Smartphone durability awards: 2020's winners and losers

Which handsets were the most durable, and which the most fragile? What was the best-looking smartphone of 2020? Let's find out.

Readers are very curious about smartphones. I get asked all sorts of probing questions, ranging from best/worst or most/least durable, to more esoteric questions such as which is the easiest to repair.

ZDNet Recommends

The 10 best smartphones

5G support is one reason to buy a phone and be confident keeping it for two or three years.

Read More

I can offer some guidance on this, but I don't have the time needed to be stripping down and analyzing dozens of new smartphones every year.

But some do.

Must read: iPhone privacy checklist (2021 edition)

Zach Nelson, best known for his YouTube channel JerryRigEverything, has made quite a name for himself over the past few years testing smartphones, and for the past few years has published his own smartphone durability awards videos.

Rather than just focusing on durability, these videos also pick out the best/least repairable smartphone, the most innovative smartphone, which smartphone looks the best inside, and also which is the most "delusive."

I've watched the video and it does a good job of covering mainstream handsets. Outside of teardowns carried out by the fine folks at iFixit, this channel is one of the best for no-nonsense destructive smartphone testing.

As for durability, I find that handsets from the likes of Ulefone or Blackview are the better choice for engineers, first responders, and people who spend time in the outdoors, but they're quite niche so I understand why they've not been included in the lineup.

What's important to you when buying a new smartphone? Let me know in the comments below!