Report: Samsung Galaxy S9 is Not Durable

Posted on March 19, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 39 Comments

A new report from SquareTrade says that while the Samsung Galaxy S9 is marginally more durable than its predecessor, it is actually quite fragile.

“SquareTrade put the latest Galaxy generation through a gamut of tests and found while the Galaxy S9 is slightly more durable than the S8 and iPhone X, its all-glass design is still highly vulnerable to damage,” the firm notes. “SquareTrade Labs uses a range of scientific robots to drop, bend, tumble, and dunk devices to see how they live up to the activities of our everyday lives.”

SquareTrade promotes itself as a highly-rated protection plan provider that is trusted by millions of customers. And you can find a video overview of its Galaxy S0 breakability tests on YouTube. But the high-level results are:

Repairability. The S9 and S9+’s repairability is no better than that of their predecessors, SquareTrade saws. Low points include the difficulty in removing their back panel while preserving the display.

Face-down drop test. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ both suffered “extensive damage across their screens” in this crucial test. However, they did fare slightly better than their predecessors, which also jettisoned sharp shards of glass during last year’s tests.

Side and back drop tests. Here, SquareTrade saw a major difference year-over-year: Where the S8 shattered both its display and back panels, the S9 was only damaged on its back panel. And by “damaged,” they mean “completely shattered.”

Tumble test. The thicker glass on the S9/S9+ held up a bit better in repeated impacts in a tumble bot, but there was still “considerable damage on both the display and back panels of the S9 and S9+.”

According to SquareTrade, the move to all-glass bodies on phones like the iPhone X and Galaxy S9 is both beautiful and aids with wireless charging. But it comes with a price: The devices are just not durable.

“We’re continuing to see a trend of beautiful all-glass designs that come with a high price tag and high risk of damage from drops and mishaps,” SquareTrade’s Jason Siciliano says. “Our tests and claims data show that even when in cases, they still experience damage. So, while water resistance has improved across the board, all of that glass means that durability has actually gone backward over the past year.”

 

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Comments (39)

39 responses to “Report: Samsung Galaxy S9 is Not Durable”

  1. skane2600

    If the S9 is more durable than the iPhone X, why isn't the headline about the iPhone X not being durable? BTW, I've never owned a Samsung or Apple smartphone, so no skin in this game.

  2. Chris_Kez

    My Nokia 920 was the last phone I used without a case. People complained about the 920's heft, but unless you hit a corner just right (which did eventually happen to me), the occasional drop would just put a little scratch or dent in the polycarbonate but it still looked fine.

    • IanYates82

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      I liked the 920. It was definitely "dense" but that made it rugged.

      I still had a slim case on mine. Works perfectly still, with no scratch. Unfortunately it's been largely a paperweight for the past three years and is absolutely just that now.

  3. dontbe evil

    ROTFL ... like the iphone x

  4. curtisspendlove

    I’ll never understand why people expect things made of glass to be more durable than things made of glass would be.


    I look forward to technology advances that give us perfectly clear, unbreakable glass. But until then I treat my phone as if it were made of glass. ;)

  5. Daekar

    Wait? People are still surprised by this? They're covered in glass, front and back. It's a beautiful, completely idiotic design decision. I have no idea why they build them this way. My GS5 was plastic (good looking plastic, too) and it never had even the tiniest problem. My GS7 has a glass back and has taken less punishment through its case and STILL broke on the back.


    I'd like to find the designer that proposed glass phones and beat them with plastic ones until they admit their mistake.


    Anyone who uses one of these without a case deserves anything they get.

  6. Winner

    While glass is pretty, it's really a totally impractical material for a phone. It is a fingerprint magnet. It breaks easily. You end up protecting it with a case - a PLASTIC case.


    IMHO plastic or metal backs are better.

    Metal is good if you don't have wireless charging.

    Plastic is considered downmarket, but is in actuality the best material. Durable and can use wireless charging. If finished decently, plastics can look really high quality. And as stated above, most people put PLASTIC cases on their GLASS phones anyway.

  7. Mark Hancheroff

    Most folks think they are too ugly, but I've been happy with the S8 Active version of Samsung (and the s6 Active before that). I'm just too damn clumsy for anything else.

  8. SRLRacing

    For me, the height of phone design was probably the Samsung Note 4. A great combination of practicality, durability, and beautiful design. I have never understood the obsession with these (while gorgeous) all glass and metal designs that will be hidden away in a case so tough that it will outperform your car in a crash test yet the phone will still break if you look at it wrong.

  9. dallasnorth40

    Don't drop your expensive phone.

  10. Igor Engelen

    I truly love beautiful phones, like most people here I suppose, but I've been using cases and screen protectors for many years now to avoid breaking these expensive devices.

    It's just not worth taking the risk.

  11. Jim Lewis

    Thanks for covering the Square Trade analysis! I'll be extra careful with my Galaxy Note 8!

  12. red.radar

    Call be cynical... but a company wanting to sell you insurance saying phones are fragile.


    I like to see more independent analysis from a test house without a conflict of interest. 6 foot drop test on concrete? I don't exactly see that as realistic. That is a test to create failures


    Also suspicious... the linked video to Youtube has comments disabled.....I wonder why..


  13. FullyLoaded

    So they say the S9 did as well or a bit better than the S8 in each test but then summarize at the end that durability has gone down this year. I don't get it.

  14. ZeroPageX

    Yup. I hates cases, but I got an Otter Box for my S8 after the fall my S7 had. I really wish it didn't have curved glass or glass on the back. It looks cool, but it makes it so much more breakable.

  15. obarthelemy

    One of the reasons why I swore off flagships: their focus on looks makes them more fragile than their low/mid-range brethren, which is unconscionable. My phones go into a case anyway.


    Plus those curved screen seem iffy to me. They rise costs (initial and repair), create issues at the edges (distortion, glare, false touches), and serve no clear purpose. Like whisky, I'll have mine straight, thank you.

  16. jimchamplin

    This just in: Careless handling of fragile items causes severe damage. The Association Of People Who Aren't Careless did not immediately reply for comment, since they were busy playing games on their unbroken devices.

  17. Sarge

    How can you not think to use a case for a device like this? I wonder if my Spigen Neo Hybrid Crystal case is really enough once in a while but the other day it took a drop onto a hard tile floor and the phone was fine. Tough balancing protection and looks....

    • evox81

      In reply to Sarge:

      Everyone knows you can get a case to protect your phone. But it's not only a case of "thinking to use a case". Some people, myself included, don't like cases. Those that aren't really intended for protection are just unnecessary and those that are designed to protect your phone are large and ugly.

      • Sarge

        In reply to evox81:

        That's a pretty good generalization, only cases that provide protection are large and ugly. I am all for folks doing whatever they want. Somehow, I suspect that devices w/o cases that are dropped get damaged more often than those with cases. Where's the surprise...

    • charms55

      In reply to Sarge: Why buy that gorgeous phone, only to cover it with a case? a $400 phone that won't shatter on a sneeze makes more sense. But really, the top manufacturers (looking at you Apple and Samsung) need to step up. The days of foisting a $1000+ phone on the public that must be handled with white cotton gloves and kept in a hard case might just be numbered. How long can the buying public be satisfied with replacement, then having to completely reload your phone and increase the possibility of data loss?


  18. Brandon Mills

    I think this has been true for awhile. Had a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge get a hairline fracture for no good reason that eventually spread into a messed up screen. Swore off the curved screens and went Pixel 2 for my next phone. Smooth sailing ever since.


    The S7 Edge breaking for no good reason was a pretty stark contrast to my previous Nokia Lumia phone, which apparently was coated with adamantium.

    • cuppettcj

      In reply to BrandonMills:


      I always had my S7 Edge in a Spigen hybrid clear case with an Armorsuit screen protector from the beginning. It was dropped several times and the only damage it ever sustained was to its case. Even the screen protector was spared from scratches due to the case's raised rim.


      Just got my S9+ last Wednesday. Guess the first thing I did when I unboxed it? Put it in a Spigen hybrid clear case with an Armorsuit screen protector. The glass back looks just fine to me - viewed through the clear case.


      You're right about the Nokia Lumia phones. I only ever needed a screen protector with my 920. It's heavy, thick body was its own case.

  19. wunderbar

    headline 1) Breaking news: thing made entirely of glass is prone to breaking if dropped.


    headline 2) we dropped this all glass thing onto concrete from 6 feet high and YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT



  20. thechise

    While I do appreciate the beauty of all these devices, I use a case 100% of the time. There are too many factors that can scratch them up even if you don't drop it just from day to day use. And most importantly, these things are so slippery, I use cases to add some grip.

  21. Polycrastinator

    "Device insurance company finds device you could insure likely to break."

  22. jrickel96

    High end devices are expensive and easy to break. The cynical side of me says they are designed that way so they can sell replacements.

    • charms55

      In reply to jrickel96: Indeed. But even in a case my wife's iPhone6 fell on a corner and shattered the glass on the corner and put a crack diagonally from corner to corner. And let's think this through. Why buy a gorgeous phone, that you must immediately cover all that beauty with a sticker or military grade case? Waiting for a company to put out the equivalent of a junker car. A phone with an all metal body of plain old sheet aluminum. Designed to be slipped into a "purty" little case of your choosing.

      While I am enticed by these stunning glass wonders, at $1000 and more a pop one should expect more. Phones are to be used, not put into a glass case on your night stand to be taken out only on Sunday to go to church.


  23. scottib62

    I get it these all glass bezel less designs are what all the cool kids want. Why is it news that glass breaks?

    Doesn't make sense to be surprised.

  24. dnation70

    i can't see the video's u guys post

  25. charms55

    Sorry folks. I never never never put my Nokia 920 in a case or added screen protector. It took numerous falls and tumbles far worse than these tests. My 920 would fare far better than this. While everyone is going to thinner, lighter, all-glass affairs, it is wise to note that the polycarbonate bodies of those phones where more than a colorful, pretty face. I dropped my 930 and thought I had dislodged the screen. I freaked. A light press snapped it into place and not a scratch on the phone or body.


    I currently carry my ZTE Axon 7 in a flip case mostly for the kickstand, but used the stock rubber case. Dropped once and not a scratch or ding. Knocked out of my hand by someone passing me in the station (jerk). More damage to my heart than to the phone. I was seriously thinking of moving to the Samsung Note 8 with lower prices coming, but seeing my wife's shattered iPhone6 stops me short of trusting these glass wonders.

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