iPhone 8 Drop-Tested: Here's How Tough It Really Is

Apple claims that the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have "the most durable glass in a smartphone ever - front and back." That's a pretty hefty claim, but both new phones do boast a 50 percent deeper strengthening layer, according to the company, along with a new steel substructure.

But how much abuse can Apple's flagship take before it finally breaks? We put the iPhone 8 to the test, dropping it from varying heights on plywood and concrete. We also dropped the handset down a set of stairs, and the results were mixed.

Here's how tough the iPhone 8 really is.

Test 1: Drop from 4 feet

For our first test, we used our Dropbot 5000, a machine we built specifically for drop-testing gadgets. We can adjust the height of the platform, and the base onto which gadgets land is made of plywood, which is similar to MIL-SPEC testing standards. We dropped the iPhone 8 twice from 4 feet, and both times, it emerged unscathed.

Test 2: Drop from 6 feet

We then raised the Dropbot 5000's platform to 6 feet, again dropping the iPhone 8 twice from this height. As with the 4-foot test, the phone remained undamaged.

Test 3: Drop from 3 feet onto sidewalk

Plywood's one thing; unforgiving concrete is another. To simulate more of a real-world test, we then took the iPhone 8 outside and dropped it twice from waist height (about 3.5 feet) onto a New York City sidewalk.

On the first drop, the iPhone 8's lens cracked, and on the second drop, the corner of the phone chipped. However, both the front and back cases didn't crack, the phone remained on and the camera still worked, though there was a lens flare in photos taken with the camera, as a result of the lens being cracked.

Test 4: Drop from four flights in a stairwell

For the final test, we dropped the same iPhone 8 down a four-flight concrete stairwell — 32 feet, to be exact. Not surprisingly, it didn't survive. Both the front and back of the phone were smashed — there was glass everywhere — the camera lens popped out, and the phone wouldn't turn on.

Bottom Line

The iPhone 8 (and, presumably, the iPhone 8 Plus) should be able to survive short drops onto certain surfaces, such as carpet and wood. We were especially impressed that the phone survived a 6-foot drop in our Dropbot without any real damage. However, the iPhone 8 is not tough enough to stand up to concrete and certainly not durable enough to survive a 30-foot drop.

If you're concerned about keeping your handset protected, we recommend getting a good iPhone 8 case. If you don't want to bother with a case and would prefer a phone that can really take a beating, you're better off with a handset with a shatterproof screen, like the Moto Z2 Force or the Galaxy S8 Active. But, overall, the iPhone 8 is more durable than we expected.

Mike Prospero
U.S. Editor-in-Chief, Tom's Guide

Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.