All smartphones are fragile, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max is absolutely no exception. But just how durable is Apple’s newest maxed out phone? YouTuber PhoneBuff (opens in new tab) decided to find out, pitting the iPhone 14 Pro Max in a drop test against one of its main rivals — the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
When you have two devices with dual-glass faceplates, neither one is going to come out of a drop test without taking some damage. Especially when you’re dropping both devices onto concrete, from a height of almost 5 feet. The question is whether the iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra drop test will see Apple’s uniquely durable materials come out on top.
On paper the iPhone 14 Pro Max has the edge on the S22 Ultra. It uses stainless steel, as opposed to Samsung’s ‘Armor Aluminum’, and has a flat display instead of the curved edge screen Samsung is so fond of.
On top of that, the front of the iPhone 14 Pro Max features the Ceramic Shield, an exclusive version of Gorilla Glass that Apple claims is the toughest glass on any smartphone. It’s been around since the iPhone 12, and seems to have gotten better. Of course, the Galaxy S22 Ultra doesn’t cheap out on materials, with Gorilla Glass Victus Plus on the front and back of the device.
Drop Test 1: Back-facing drop
The very first test, with a back-facing drop, did not bode well for the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Rather than having a Ceramic Shield on the back, Apple has been using dual-ion glass that doesn’t appear to be nearly as strong. While the S22 Ultra didn’t come out unscathed, the damage is a lot less severe than the back of the iPhone.
The drop even managed to crack the sapphire glass covering the rear camera, though it didn’t have any visible effect on the quality of images produced. PhoneBuff speculates that this is down to the 14 Pro Max’s camera protruding slightly more than the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s did.
Drop Test 2: Corner drop
The corner test comes in Apple’s favor. While both phones suffered damage to the corners, the S22 Ultra appeared to have much deeper dents and chips on its corner. However, the corner drop didn’t do the iPhone’s back glass any more favors, with glass cracking and coming away on the affected corner.
Drop Test 3: Face drop
The face drop managed to give Ceramic Shield time to shine. Both the 14 Pro Max and S22 Ultra suffered from shattered screens. However, Samsung came out much worse for wear, with a lot more cracks covering more of the screen — while the iPhone’s damage was contained to the top right corner.
Meanwhile, FaceID continued to work as expected, and the S22 Ultra’s in-display fingerprint scanner stopped being able to read PhoneBuff’s thumbprint. None of this will change the fact you need an expensive screen replacement, but at least the iPhone seems to be in better condition for the interim.
Final drop: Front on steel
The final drop, going straight onto steel, was pretty brutal. The damage to both displays is worse, particularly on the S22 Ultra, which now has some dead pixels and considerably more cracks. The 14 Pro Max’s cracks are still contained to a single corner, but they are more numerous and widespread.
The rear glass was in even worse shape, as was the camera’s sapphire glass. That caused some flaring in the camera, which was particularly bad with the front-facing selfie cam.
Galaxy S22 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro Max: Which is tougher?
PhoneBuff declared the contest a tie, though it’s clear that the Ceramic Shield was doing a much better job than Gorilla Glass Victus Plus. Not that it’ll matter too much, in the grand scheme of things.
The important point to note is that PhoneBuff also put a second iPhone 14 Pro Max through the testing, sporting a protective case. That phone suffered no damage, and the case itself only seemed to suffer some minor scuffs. The lesson here is that no matter how durable your phone is, it’ll never be as good as protecting it with a case.
So be sure to check out the best iPhone 14 Pro Max cases and the best Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultras cases to keep your phone safe. After all, if you're spending over a thousand dollars on a device you want to keep it all in perfect condition. AppleCare Plus and insurance can only handle so much.