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The most breakable iPhones? How the iPhone 14 fared in drop tests

Maybe don't drop your iPhone 14, or at least try not to.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
iPhone 14 Pro Max Shattered
Screenshot from Allstate Protection Plans

Allstate Protection Plans, formerly known as SquareTrade, performed a series of robotic drop tests on the Apple's largest series 14 models: the iPhone 14 Plus and iPhone 14 Pro Max. The company doesn't do it for the heck of it; Allstate offers phone protection plans to cover accidents, electrical and battery issues, and other product breakdowns and defects. 

Also: The case for keeping your old iPhone

I wasn't planning on buying a new iPhone this year; I was still sporting my iPhone XS Max until my toddler dropped it in the kitchen sink about a month ago. Once that phone died, I decided to go for the new iPhone 14 Pro Max model, and I'm hoping it lasts me as long as my previous one did. So when I got the results from the latest drop tests on the iPhone 14, I was quite interested as a new owner. 

How the iPhone 14 did in drop tests

Over the years, Apple has been looking to balance a sleek design with durability for its phones. The company has gone back and forth from metal-backed iPhones to glass backs in 2010, then switching back to metal backs until another switch to glass in 2017.

Apple upgraded to covering its phones with a ceramic shield and an aluminum or steel chassis a couple years ago with the iPhone 12, in an attempt to make them a bit more crack and scratch-resistant.

Also: Will my iPhone 13 case fit on the new iPhone 14?

With its newest models, Apple has tried to find the best of both worlds: all models feature ceramic shield panels on the front and back, but the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus have a flat aluminum side, which is made of stainless steel on the 14 Pro and Pro Max.

iPhone 14 Plus

iPhone 14 Plus - Cracked
Allstate Protection Plans

The iPhone 14 Plus was dropped down from six feet, face-down on a sidewalk, and ended up with loose, shattered glass from the front screen, with some bullseye cracks along one side and through a corner. This made it difficult for the phone to be handled in any way, as the loose glass was enough to potentially nick fingers.

Dropping it on its back on a sidewalk resulted in raised glass on the back panel, with some bullseye cracks along one side, as well as damage to the camera housing.

Also: Is your iPhone 'Charging On Hold'? Here's what it means and what you should do

The iPhone 14 Plus had one shining moment, however: when dropped on its side down an outdoor paved staircase, it only suffered minor scuff marks on the corners, leaving the front and back glass panels intact.

iPhone 14 Pro Max

iPhone 14 Pro Max - Cracked
Allstate Protection Plans

I hate to say that the iPhone 14 Pro Max didn't fare nearly as well in drop tests as the iPhone 14 Plus. 

When the iPhone 14 Pro Max was dropped face-down on a sidewalk from six feet, it had bullseye cracks that appeared along the side and through a corner. However, dropping it on its back resulted in a completely shattered back panel, with missing chunks of glass, though the camera still worked. 

Review: iPhone 14 Pro packs a lot more innovation for the same price as last year

I'd avoid dropping the 14 Pro Max on a staircase, though. When dropped on its side on the same paved staircase, this model ended up with a cracked back panel, scuffed corners, dented buttons, and damage to the camera housing. The phone and camera continued to function as normal, however. 

The biggest takeaway is that both the iPhone 14 Plus and 14 Pro Max were severely cracked or shattered after the first drop, where the iPhones 12 and 13 proved to be some of Apple's most durable phones and didn't have severe damage until the second or third drop

If you're prone to accidents and have broken an iPhone or two in the past, you can learn more about protection plans on Allstate's website.

Does this mean that you need a case?

Before my new iPhone 14 Pro Max arrived, I already had a case and screen protector waiting on my kitchen counter. Some users prefer to skip cases altogether, but I'm not one of them. A brand new iPhone isn't something I buy every year, so I feel like I have to protect my investment, especially since my hectic life makes it seem like I'm running a perpetual drop test on my iPhone.

Also: I made a huge Apple Watch mistake

Allstate Protection Plans recommends using both a case and screen protector because, as you can see from previous drop tests, cases have proven to be effective at protecting the back glass of an iPhone. I've seen the damage an iPhone can incur from dropping it without a case both from this video and from my own experience, so I'll stay married to my case and screen protector for now and forever.

Can you repair broken glass on the iPhone 14?

Though both the iPhone 14 Plus and 14 Pro Max suffered severe damage to the back glass during drop tests, the former feature removable back panels, making them easier to repair. The latter falls in line with Apple's previous repairability firewalls: Replacing the back glass on an iPhone 14 Pro Max will leave you about $549 poorer.

This is because the iPhone 14 Pro Max continues to have a nearly identical internal structure to preceding models, making it far from a repairable breakthrough, but the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus may be.

The 14 and 14 Plus line feature a completely different internal architecture than the Pro and Pro Max models, which makes it easy to open the phone from the front and back to access what you need to repair -- namely, the shattered back or front panel. The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max only open from the front by removing the screen.

Also: Want to fix your iPhone? This is the gadget repair kit to get

The iPhone 14's removable panels hold the front screen and back glass, while the aluminum frame holds pretty much the entire internal structure of the phone, meaning that Apple completely redesigned the internal construction of just one line of its new phones.

This makes the iPhone 14 leaps and bounds more repairable than both previous iPhone models and the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, which is something to consider if you're looking to upgrade to one of these new models.

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