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Tests: New iPhones less durable than iPhone 5

By Anne D'Innocenzio

AP Retail Writer

LAST UPDATED: 02:32 p.m. HST, Sep 22, 2013

NEW YORK >> As Apple pitches its newest smartphones, users may find something lacking compared with last year's model: They could break more easily.

SquareTrade, a provider of protection plans for gadgets, tested five smartphones, including Apple's new iPhones, to see if they could withstand drops, dunks and other common hazards. Its finding: The latest models aren't as durable as last year's iPhone 5.

The biggest loser, however, was Samsung's Galaxy S4, which failed to work after being submerged in water and being dropped 5 feet off the ground, according to San Francisco-based SquareTrade.

The phone that withstood SquareTrade's torture test best was Google Inc.'s Moto X. The Moto X is the first phone designed with the Internet company as Motorola's new owner. Released in August, the Moto X is also the first smartphone assembled in the U.S.

"We were expecting that at least one of the new iPhone models would up its game, but surprisingly, it was the Moto X that proved most forgiving of accidents," said Ty Shay, chief marketing officer at SquareTrade.

Officials from Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. and Google Inc. didn't immediately return email messages for comment.

Apple started selling two new iPhones on Friday. The iPhone 5S sports a fingerprint sensor, a better camera and a faster processor. A less expensive version, the iPhone 5C, offers consumers a wider choice of colors and has a better front-facing camera than the iPhone 5.

With every upgrade Apple has made, the latest model has usually been more durable than the previous one, based on drop tests SquareTrade has done over the past few years, Shay said. But that wasn't the case this time.

SquareTrade reviewed each device based on eight factors, including the materials of the device's front and back panels, its size and its weight. It also tested the device's ability to withstand drops from 5 feet and being dunked in water for 10 seconds. SquareTrade says it uses robots to do the testing to ensure consistency.

SquareTrade rates phones on a scale of 1 to 10, with a higher number reflecting a higher risk of the device breaking. All five phones tested were considered to have a medium risk of breakage, but where they fell on the scale differed.

The Galaxy S4 scored 7, the worst of the five tested. The S4 ended up not functioning, with its screen coming half off, according to a video released by SquareTrade.

The iPhone 5S, made of aluminum and glass, scored 5.5, while the 5C, with a plastic housing, had a 6 rating. Both were worse than the 5 rating scored by iPhone 5.

In particular, Shay noted that the iPhone 5C was more damaged when it was dropped than the iPhone 5. And the iPhone 5S also failed a slide test. It slid off of a table when it was pushed, unlike the other devices tested. By comparison, the iPhone 5C slid a little over 3 feet, while the iPhone 5 slid just over 2 feet.

The Moto X had a rating of 4.5, surviving the tests with only the slightest dent. Shay noted that the phone's innovative rounded back molded to the shape of a user's hand makes it easier for the consumer to grip.

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MizuInOz wrote:
"They could break more easily." and they "could" also use the parts to build a new energy efficient car or "could" make an exact replica of the Titanic - just from the boxes that the new iPhone ships in. FUD factor alive and well. It's a delicate technological device. If you are going to intentionally drop it to see if it breaks, you need to have your mental capacity checked first. I also hear that if you drop an 80" flat panel tv from a three story building that is "may" harm a passer-by who happens to be walking by. This is one of those stupid is as stupid does articles. The tall poppy syndrome is alive and well.
on September 22,2013 | 10:13AM
IAmSane wrote:
lol wut
on September 22,2013 | 03:12PM
mikethenovice wrote:
What's with the drop test on a smartphone? You would not drop test your baby?
on September 22,2013 | 10:57AM
Kohelele wrote:
Because people drop phones? Comparing a cellphone to a baby is quite the stretch there...
on September 22,2013 | 01:04PM
mikethenovice wrote:
Lasting twenty four months with due care is enough for the contract.
on September 22,2013 | 10:58AM
OldDiver wrote:
Everyone I know who owns an iPhone uses a case.
on September 22,2013 | 12:03PM
hornswoggler wrote:
Duh, this is why you buy a case for your phone. Also on the galaxy, if these guys wanted to go swimming with the phone, they should have got the S4 active, it's waterproof. ....idiots.
on September 22,2013 | 08:13PM
busterb wrote:
Gee aluminum is more durable then plastic? I can't imagine! These test guys really earn their bucks the hard way.
on September 23,2013 | 08:17AM
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