Eight months ago we brought you the world’s first Galaxy S3 versus iPhone 5 drop test. As much as we hated to admit it at the time, the iPhone proved superior to the Galaxy S3 when it comes to build quality and sturdiness. The S3’s plastic cover popped open upon impact with the ground, and its front glass, lacking the protection of a sturdy metal case, shattered. Meanwhile, the iPhone escaped with just some minor bruising.
Samsung has long been criticized for using plastic on its flagship Galaxy S series. Some have hoped that the Galaxy S4 would change that perception, but Samsung stuck with polycarbonate. Predictably, early reviews (and the results of our Versus poll) have criticized the “plasticky” look and feel of the Galaxy S4 more often than not.
But is the criticism warranted? Is the Galaxy S4 better built than its predecessor? Can it hold a candle to the aluminum iPhone 5? Darcy LaCouvee, our international man of gadget destruction, is back to Hong Kong to bring you the answers. Yes, it’s drop test time!
As always, we tried to simulate accidents that are likely to happen to your smartphone in every day use. This means there’s a certain degree of randomness in our testing, but nevertheless, the difference in build quality between the two devices is visible. Here’s the video.
There you have it. History repeats itself. The Galaxy S4 may be better than the S3 in most ways, but the build quality and resistance to damage appear to have remained unchanged. In fact, we will go out on a limb to say that the smaller bezels have actually diminished the robustness of the Galaxy S4.
The iPhone 5 passed another drop test with flying colors, emerging with only cosmetic damage. For what it’s worth, the screen of the Apple device did shatter when we tested it against the HTC One, but that’s another story.
Almost every device is likely to break when dropped face down on hard pavement, no one can deny it. But Samsung’s devices appear to be more vulnerable to shocks than the HTC One or the iPhone 5. Is it due to the plastic build? That’s probably one reason, but don’t forget that the Galaxy S4’s plastic back cover offers access to a removable battery and a microSD slot, two features that are very important for many users. So it’s all about tradeoffs.
In addition, plastic provides many benefits over other materials. It’s lighter, won’t scratch as easily as anodized aluminum or crack as glass does, and when it’s damaged, you can replace a plastic case on the cheap.
With that said, we can’t help being disappointed that we have to give the laurels, once again, to the competitor. The Galaxy S4 is the flagship of the Android armada, and we simply want it to be better than the iPhone in every way.
Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 drop test image gallery
Bottom line, case it up. Fateful events will happen, regardless of how careful you are. Buy a good case for your device, be it a plastic Galaxy S4, aluminum HTC One, or glass-backed Nexus 4.
How important is the build material to you? Are you disappointed that the Galaxy S4 is still made of plastic? What’s it going to be folks? My goodness!