We all know the feeling of watching our phones fall to the ground after slipping out of our hands. There is a moment of alarm before you reach down to pick it up. Many of us immediately begin examining the device for signs of damage.
Sometimes, the destruction is obvious, and other times the phone is relatively unscathed. Either way, the drop made your heart sink, and you realize you need to learn ways to avoid breaking your iPhone. After all, these devices are an investment, and we use them for nearly everything in our lives.
Learn more about how you can protect your phone and avoid breaking its screen.
Why Do Phones Break So Easily?
One quick movement, and your phone could slip out of your pocket and its screen could shatter on the floor in seconds. Wondering why these devices are so fragile? In short, it is their design.
While most mobile phones before the iPhone had plastic displays, Apple implemented a glass screen because of its scratch and wear resistance. However, using glass posed a new set of challenges — shattering. To make things more complicated, many iPhone models have glass on both the front and back of the device.
Additionally, the front screens on newer devices have a bezel-less design, meaning the display has a very little rim holding it in place. Because of this design, the screen has barely any protection around the phone’s perimeter, making it even easier for the screen to break. In addition to the bezel-less screen, the design of the iPhone makes it delicate. Apple aims to create thin, sleek-looking electronics, but this makes them more susceptible to breaking if you drop them or hit them on something accidentally.
While newer iPhone models are more water-resistant than ever, they are not waterproof and their screens can easily acquire water damage and black spots if they drop into a pool or get wet in the rain.
Another reason why our phones break so easily is that we use them for nearly all aspects of our lives. This daily use creates wear and tear and means our devices are constantly in situations where they could break.
Cracked Glass vs. LCD Damage
Since a broken iPhone screen is a common occurrence, it is beneficial to know the difference between cracked glass and damage to the liquid crystal display (LCD).
Say you dropped your phone on the sidewalk outside your house. You take a deep breath and pick it up to see that the front glass cracked, but your display lights up like normal. This means you’ve broken the glass, but not the LCD. You could take your cracked iPhone screen to the Apple store or an iPhone repair shop and replace the glass.
Now let’s say you dropped your phone, but this time when you pick it back up, you notice black spots on its display. This is LCD damage and can be a little more complicated to repair. iPhones with LCD problems may show the following signs:
- Black spots
- Colorful stripes
- Pixel anomalies
When dealing with a broken screen, it is necessary to know the differences between glass and LCD damage.
Our Phone-Drop Experiment
To learn more and better understand how to prevent iPhone screens from breaking, our analysts at Gazelle Labs conducted a phone-drop experiment. The experiment’s purpose was to determine the probability of the device becoming damaged after dropping from various heights.
The experiment consisted of dropping nearly 50 different iPhones and observing whether or not their screens cracked as a result of the fall. Again, dropping our devices is the most common way that we break our cell phones, so our labs designed an experiment to see what height was the most detrimental to the phone.
We decided to drop each device from three different heights. Our analysts dropped each phone from 5 feet, 3 feet and 1 foot. These heights mimic the three different places we are likely to hold our phones, including:
- Ear level
- Pocket level
- Picking it up off the ground
For this experiment, we decided to have every device land on the same laminate wooden floor. Doing so helped to ensure each drop was standardized. Laminate floors are one of the most popular flooring choices making it a common surface for a dropped phone to land on.
We focused our evaluation after the drop on the areas of the phone that were most likely to make contact with the ground after our analyst dropped it:
- Front glass
After each drop, we examined the phones and ruled those with the slightest crack on the front screen as broken.
The Lessons We Learned From Our Phone-Drop Experiment
After completing our phone drop experiment, our analysts came to some key conclusions about the final results. Our findings were surprising and insightful about the design of the iPhone and its ability to endure the impact after a drop. The following are the two major lessons we learned:
1. It’s All in the Hands
During this experiment, we learned that the greatest chance you have of saving your screen while your phone is falling is to nudge it so that it lands on its base. When you let your device land flat on its front or its back, it is more likely to damage the screen. Perhaps this is because of the fragility of the glass on those sides of the phone and the nearly bezel-less design.
While dropping your phone is never ideal, it is best if the device lands on the base where the charger port and speakers are.
This part of most iPhone models has a metal casing. This material is more durable than plastic or glass, so it can absorb the collision shock much better than the front or back of your phone can. Because the metal base can handle a drop better, your phone has the best chance of surviving the fall if it lands on the base rather than on the glass on the front or back.
In the end, our analysts found that 7% of the phones that landed on the base of the device ended up with a cracked screen while 27% of the phones that landed either on their front or back glass resulted in damage. Again, this indicates how dropping a phone on its base is generally less destructive to the device’s display.
2. Height Matters
There were some unexpected findings when we conducted this experiment. While we largely anticipated there being more damage to the phones when they fell from greater heights, this was not the case. Instead, significantly fewer phones broke after falling from 5 feet compared to those dropped from 3 feet.
Though the results were not what we thought they’d be, we learned some important lessons about what causes our phones’ screens to crack.
When we dropped the devices from 1 foot off the ground, it did not cause any of the phone screens to break. Approximately 20% of the phones that fell from a height of 3 feet ended up with shattered glass. However, only 13% of the devices dropped from the highest height of 5 feet broke on impact. We were interested in why dropping the phones from 3 feet seemed to be the most destructive.
As we observed the falling phones, we noticed the devices we dropped from the highest height were less likely to land on their front and back glass.
The air resistance and the unsteadiness in our hands caused the phones to tilt slightly as they traveled to the floor. This tilt made it much more likely that the phone’s base would contact the ground instead of its screen or back. This metal base on the phone absorbed some of the shock, resulting in less damage.
How to Prevent a Broken iPhone Screen
We all dread the idea of a broken smartphone screen. It can be financially stressful and inconvenient, especially if the glass is shattered. You never want to cut yourself on a damaged screen or have sections of your screen that you cannot see. We put together some helpful tips to help you protect your phone.
Here are easy things you can do to prevent a broken iPhone screen.
1. Use a Protective Case
A case is one of the simplest solutions for avoiding a broken iPhone screen. You’ll want to find one with a protective design so the case will absorb some of the shock if your phone crashes to the floor.
Phone cases come in many different styles and colors. Finding a supportive option is easy. You can also opt for a bumper case that fits snugly around the outer edge of the device to give the front and back glass some cushion while protecting the sides. Other cases have a built-in screen protector. This option fully encloses the phone, giving it nearly 360-degrees of protection.
Phone cases are available for every style and budget, and investing in one can save you hundreds of dollars in screen repairs.
2. Add a Screen Protector
As the name implies, screen protectors add an extra layer of protection to the front screen of your phone. These handy little products reinforce the glass on your device and give it a little more durability if the phone falls on the ground or hits something accidentally.
Two main types of screen protectors are available on the market today. Most of them are made of hard plastic and apply to your phone like a sticker or decal. Others are made of tempered glass and feel more like your actual phone screen against your fingertip.
Screen protectors adhere to your phone and primarily prevent scratches, but they can also help protect your device’s screen against cracking.
3. Attach a Hand Strap
Hand straps are a popular phone accessory and offer extra protection for your phone. You can attach one of these to your device’s case and slip the strap over your wrist while holding or using your phone.
That way, if you happen to lose your grip or someone knocks into you, your phone doesn’t go flying. Instead, it is securely attached to your arm, and there is no need to panic about a dropped phone or worry about a broken screen.
You can choose from many different kinds of hand straps. Whether you want a stylish beaded strap or an adjustable utilitarian option, there is something to match every lifestyle.
4. Use a Grip
If you want similar support to what a hand strap has to offer, a phone grip may be a good choice for you as well.
A phone grip goes on the back of your device and allows you to get a better hold. They come in different shapes and designs. Some are small straps that you can loop your fingers through for extra support. Others pop out, and you can hold them as a grip. There are also rings that adhere to the back of your phone for you to hook your fingers through.
Phone grips are a great option for protecting your phone. They can stick to your phone or its case, and you can have peace of mind knowing you have extra support in your hands.
5. Disrupt the Fall
Another way to avoid a broken iPhone screen that is not an accessory is to disrupt the device’s fall. We touched on these previously, but interfering with a phone when it is dropping to the ground can help prevent the glass from shattering.
An iPhone is more likely to survive a fall if it lands on its base rather than the glass on its front or back. The base is made of metal and is more durable. While you never want your phone to fall at all, if it does, try to give it a small nudge in the air so it lands on its end.
6. Be Mindful
It is no secret that we are attached to our cell phones — 76% of people say that they’d be lost without their phones. Whether your phone falls off your lap as you stand up, or you accidentally bump it off a counter, mishaps occur all the time. That’s why it is important to be mindful and proactive about our devices.
We suggest never setting your phone on your lap or balancing it on any surface. It is best to keep it away from any water sources like a sink or toilet. And consider your phone’s safety wherever you put it, whether it’s in your handbag or on your nightstand.
Browse Gazelle’s Selection of Smartphones
Protecting your phone is important. If you’ve recently broken your screen or you are just in the market for a new phone, consider Gazelle. You know you are getting a quality-checked device with no hidden costs when you shop with Gazelle. Additionally, all of our refurbished phones have a 30-day warranty.
Gazelle makes buying a used device easy and safe. Interested in learning more? Browse our selection of used phones today!