iPhone X vs. Galaxy S9 Drop Test: Which Flagship Is Tougher?

We've compared their cameras. We've compared their battery lives. We've compared their design, screens, performance and just about everything else. But we haven't measured how tough the iPhone X is compared with the Samsung Galaxy S9 —  until now.

While both phones have some measure of water resistance — both will survive a dunking in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes — neither has any other claims on durability. So what happens if one of them slips out of your hand and lands on the floor or the street?

To test their toughness, we dropped each phone on its edge and face onto wood and concrete. We did this from both 4 feet and 6 feet. Finally, we dropped two undamaged phones from 100 feet using a drone, just to see what would happen.

These drop tests were done as part of our larger first annual smartphone drop test, which involved a dozen devices from all the major brands. But we wanted to see how the two leading flagships fared against each other. As it turns out, both are fairly tough, but the iPhone X proved tougher.

Round 1: Face drop from 4 feet onto wood

In this round, we dropped both phones so that they landed on their faces from a height of 4 feet onto a piece of plywood. Both phones survived unscathed.

Round 2: Drop from 6 feet onto wood

For our second test, we dropped both phones, again on their faces, from a height of 6 feet onto plywood. Again, both phones were undamaged.

Round 3: Edge drop from 4 feet onto concrete

The next test was a bit more challenging. We dropped both the iPhone X and Galaxy S9 from 4 feet onto their bottom edges, but instead of landing on wood, they landed on a concrete pad. Both phones survived this test fairly well, as each sustained minor scratches on its bottom edge, but no more damage was apparent.

Round 4: Face drop from 4 feet onto concrete

This is where we saw the first significant damage. The screens of both phones cracked, but both devices were still usable. However, there was more damage done to the S9's screen than the iPhone's; the former had a few spots of concentrated spider-web-like cracks, while the latter had longer cracks that extended across the entire display.

Round 5: Edge drop from 6 feet onto concrete

Next, we raised the height to 6 feet and dropped the phones onto the concrete pad, so they landed on their bottom edges. The S9 sustained even more damage to its display, but the screen still worked, and we were able to interact with it. The iPhone X also showed a little more cracking on its bottom, but it still worked as before.

Round 6: Face drop from 6 feet onto concrete

At this point, we tested only the Galaxy S9; a face drop from 6 feet onto concrete resulted in more damage to the display. The top left corner of the display blacked out.

MORE: We Dropped $18,000 Worth of Phones, and These Are the Toughest (and Weakest)

You'd also probably end up with some nasty cuts to your finger if you tried to swipe, but at least you'd be able to see who was calling. The iPhone's display also cracked some more — but the damage was not as severe as the Samsung, and the touch screen still worked.

Round 7: 4-foot drop into toilet

Finally, a 4-foot drop into a water-filled toilet caused no further damage to the S9. The iPhone X's screen cracked a bit more along the top of the display, which obscured the front camera lens. However, the rest of the phone functioned as normal, and the screen as a whole was more intact than the S9's.

Bonus Round: 100-foot drone drop

As a sort of worst-case-scenario test, we took an un-dropped iPhone X and Galaxy S9 up 100 feet into the air using a DJI Mavic Pro drone and dropped them onto a sheet of plywood that was sitting on an asphalt parking lot.

MORE: How Can a Smartphone Survive a 100-Foot Drop But Crack on Your Floor?

Amazingly, the Galaxy S9 survived with no visible damage; the phone worked every bit as well after the drop as it did before. The iPhone X, on the other hand, was completely destroyed; the screen shattered, and the phone wouldn't even turn on.

Winner: iPhone X

Based on our testing, the iPhone X earned a toughness score of 6.2 (out of 10), a bit higher than the Samsung Galaxy S9's score of 6. Both phones made it equally far in our lab testing, surviving multiple falls from 6 feet onto concrete and even a dunk in the toilet.

At the end, though, the S9's screen shattered more than the iPhone's, which is why Apple's smartphone received a higher rating. That said, you should still get a case and a screen protector if you're worried about your phone breaking or cracking.

Credit: Tom's Guide

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.