iPhone 5s vs 5c drop test: is Apple’s plastic better?

September 20, 2013
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We pit the iPhone 5s versus the iPhone 5c in our trademark drop test. Will metal prevail again? Will the 5c’s steel-reinforced polycarbonate unibody help it survive the drops?

iphone5c-vs-iphone5s

It’s that time of the year again, folks.

Longtime readers know that we have a penchant for sending brand new phones to their demise. We did it to Android flagships like the Galaxy Note 2, the Nexus 7, or the HTC One, and to Apple devices like the iPhone or the iPad Mini. We admit that sometimes we went overboard with the “testing”, but that’s another story.

If there’s one conclusion we have drawn from our drop tests over the time is that metal, unsurprisingly, trumps plastic. As much as we hated to admit it a year ago, the iPhone 5, with its aluminum unibody, proved superior to the plastic Galaxy S3, which ended up with a broken screen and a popped battery.

But are all plastic phones that flimsy? Apple gave us the perfect opportunity to test this with the dual release of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, two very similar devices that differ through their build material. The 5s is the same aluminum you probably know already, while the 5c is, in the words of Jony Ive, “beautifully, unapologetically plastic”.

Our Joshua Vergara took to Hong Kong to pit the iPhone 5s versus the iPhone 5c in our trademark drop test. Will metal prevail again? Will the 5c’s steel-reinforced polycarbonate unibody help it survive the drops?

To simulate the accidents that occur in real life, we dropped the two iPhones from chest level, on their backs and on their sides, while in the final drop we went for the dreaded frontal impact. These are the results.

So, there you have it. Apple’s tooling and manufacturing processes for their high-end iPhone 5s continue to impress. We have further evidence to support the “metal is more durable and therefore superior” belief. With the iPhone 5C, you’ve got a phone that simply will not hold up in the same way as its higher end sibling.

And for you – would you like to see more manufacturers adopt higher quality build materials like those found in the HTC One or the iPhone 5S? Let us know, down below.

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