Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G has a serious weakness

It's hard to call any modern smartphone "robust," but Samsung's new flagship Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G has a particularly novel weakness.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

I'm not sure there are many people that expect a modern smartphone to survive something like a drop from six-foot face down onto concrete without suffering some damage. Modern smartphones are built with aesthetics in mind, not durability.

Must read: Galaxy S20 vs. Galaxy S20 Ultra drop test: Which one broke first? CNET

SquareTrade, the protection plan provider, has produced Breakability Scores based on standardized robotic tests that represent the most common damage scenarios for mobile phones for the Samsung Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+, and Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G.

So, how did they fare?

About as well, if not better, than you'd expect slabs of glass to survive harsh abuse.

Must read: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G review: 2020's most capable smartphone is good for business

  • Face-down drop test from 6 feet: The S20's screen shattered and was totally usable, while the S20+ shattered in one corner and was rendered barely usable, with the S20 Ultra 5G suffering hairline fractures and loose glass, but remained usable (sort of)
  • Back-down drop tests from 6 feet: The S20's back panel cracked and the camera housing shattered with loose glass, rendering it unusable, while the S20+ shattered but the camera housing survived, with the S20 Ultra 5G shattering completely, including the camera housing, leaving it completely unusable.
  • Bend test: The S20 bent and suffered a terminal cracked screen with 184.6 lbs. of pressure, with the S20+ bending at 170.8 lbs. of pressure, but was still usable, with the S20 Ultra bending at 200.7 lbs. of pressure, but was still usable.
  • Tumble test: After 60 seconds of tumbling, the S20 shattered front and back, leaving it dead in the water, while the S20+ cracked front and back but was still sort of usable, with the S20 Ultra cracking front and back, leaving it with a malfunctioning display.
  • Dunk test: All three S20 models survived a 30-minute dunk in five feet of water.

"The quality of the cameras in Samsung Galaxy phones has always been exceptional and the photo capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G are next-level," said Jason Siciliano, SquareTrade's vice president of marketing and creative director. "However, our tests revealed the new enormous camera housing 'bump' design is susceptible to damage when dropped. Given the cost of the Galaxy S20 phones, and the cost to repair them, it should probably be handled with the care of a high-end camera rather than a phone -- and getting a case is a must."

So, if you're planning to get a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, take care of that camera bump, because it seems particularly susceptible to shattering, and leaving the camera system completely unusable.

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