When a phone is advertised with military-grade impact resistance as one of its selling points, there’s little else to do but put those claims to the test. So it is with the new LG V20. With a MIL-STD-810G transit drop compliance rating, we set out to see just what it would take to break the LG V20, so you don’t have to.

You know the test: three drops, each from chest height. First on the device’s back, then on its edge and finally on its screen, where most damage usually occurs. The tests are not perfect, as each drop has a degree of uniqueness to it that is hard to recreate (something lab tests typically try to reduce). But this is real life and you never know what’s going to happen.

LG V20 drop test cracked display

In our first batch of tests, conducted by Joshua Vergara at his chest height (conservatively 5 feet off the ground), we discovered a pattern. The LG V20’s metal battery cover popped off every time. The battery popped out in our first two tests (landing on its back and side) but stayed in place when dropping onto the device’s face, which isn’t surprising.

DSC05162

Other than some very minor scratches, the V20 came out unscathed. No cracks, no severe body damage, no operational problems once the battery was reinserted. We were actually quite surprised by how well this phone, which is made of metal – a material not typically great at absorbing shock – managed to handle fairly standard drop heights.

So we decided to ramp things up a little.

I’m a little taller than Josh but when I lift my arms above my head we’re talking a drop height well in excess of seven feet. This is clearly in the not-likely-to-happen-to-you category. There’s no universal standard to drop tests, but anything above seven feet onto the display glass has got to be considered pretty extreme.

LG V20 drop test camera

We repeated the first two tests and found much the same result: the V20’s battery cover popped off and the battery fell out. But everything was perfectly fine once it was put back together again. A few more scuffs but nothing like you’d expect from multiple seven-foot impacts. Again, we were very impressed.

But when the final test came, glass-first from a height of at least seven feet, the V20 finally gave up the ghost. Or rather, the Gorilla Glass coating the display gave up. The phone itself still worked perfectly fine even after the entire front glass shattered. The good part of that is that it means all you need to do is replace the glass, not the digitizer (assuming one can be replaced on theV20 without replacing the other).

LG V20 drop test survivor

The display may generally be the most expensive thing to break on a smartphone, but if you can get away with only replacing just the glass and not the whole display, you’re in much better shape. We can’t guarantee that you’ll see similar results if you drop your V20 from such an unlikely height, but it’s reassuring to know that in our test at least, the V20 held up to its claims of impact resistance.

Do you think your phone could survive a seven-foot face-first drop? For more details on the V20, be sure to check out our LG V20 announcement post.

Kris Carlon
Kris Carlon is a Senior Editor at Android Authority. He is a half-British Australian who lives in Berlin, travels a lot and is always connected to a laptop, phone, smartwatch or tablet (and occasionally a book).
  • Hoggles

    Thanks for the first drop test. Aside from the back cover and battery blowing off each drop…it was pretty tough. Especially the screen. It took about a 7 foot drop to do the trick. Not too shabby.

    • Fifth313ment

      But one drop into a puddle and ur phone is gone and it doesmt matter if the body and screen withstand the fall. What a fail by LG, again mind you!

      • inspectorgadget

        I live on the coast and I worked a couple of years on a boat I was jumping from boat to boat 100 times a day, I still havent seen or met a person that droped their phone in any kind of water. How can someone drop their phone in lake,river, sea , pool , toilet ecc I still dont get it???

        • Joe

          They can’t unless they’re stupid.

          Not that long ago waterproofing was considered a gimmick, but nowadays its considered a must or the phone is garbage. Needless to say that’s a ridiculous way of looking at it.

          Guess a lot of people tend to ferociously defend their phones and justify their purchases, and since Samsung is the industry leader it makes sense that more people attack non-waterproofed phones.

          • Fifth313ment

            I don’t think waterproofing WAS EVER considered a gimmick. Waterproofing has so many positives like rain, wet hands, phone cleaning, and underwater camera. But most will see the benefits for the rain feature as many phones will have issues after getting wet in the rain. The side panels screens on the Samsung edge devices and the second screen on the V10/20 are also gimmicks.

          • Boston Farmacy

            I decided to get the v20 for my note 7 replacement (which had a cracked back ) but yesterday I had my phone on my hood of my vette while I was grabbing some stuff out my car and someone back into my car and my v20 slid down my hood and went right into a puddle and I was freaking out thinking the phone was junk and it ended up being perfectly fine no case at all I was very surprised and amazed that it didnt even have a scratch on it mean while I thought my note 7 was one of greatest devices besides the glass scratching very easily but the v20 has changed my view on lg they are wicked underrated OEM this phone is a true beast

        • Juan A C

          My mom dropped her Sony Ericsson W200 on a pot of boiling potatoes hahaha. Other than that, never heard of anyone dropping their phone into the water

        • Fifth313ment

          I have never dropped mine into water but I do HVAC for a living and my phone gets wet a little here, a little there. Being stuck working on a roof package unit when a storm rolls up and you’re stuck and you have to get it going and your phone is going to get soaked. Rain is probably the biggest factor. But a few months ago I was working on a freezer which was a frozen block and I had my phone on a box listening to music. I had a hose defrosting the unit and i turned and sprayed my Note 3 by accident. Note 7 is made for productivity, as is the LG V20 so waterproofing should be a necessity.

          I bought a fieldpiece electric voltage meter and I had it in a freezer and it stopped working and it had just been subject top cold and then warm. So waterproofing is a great feature to have, as is the pen to jot down specs and other info. Also all of the drop tests show the battery compartment flies open on drps and eh batter flies out. This is not good at all. LG is going to have a rough time pushing v20 units IMO. I think they are going to have a little better time now that the Note 7 has had a recall though.

          Also I thought I wasn’t going to use the IRIS scanner but that thing is fast and actually kicks in before the fingerprint scanner a lot of the time. It also works in full darkness! The Note 7 camera can take amazing shots in full darkness as well and you can almost use the viewfinder like night vision, it’s THAT GOOD! The great reviews for the Note 7 were well founded.

      • Jose C Guillen Q

        and…. When is raining, how many people actually stay outside getting poured with water? and… i agree with many. why is someone using a phone in front of a toilet (and with butter hands apparently drop it)? i dare to say that about 90% of the times people drop the phone in the street (talking about facts because i live in miami and most of the time a bus full of tourist pass by the bridge, most of the time there is a clumsy one who drop the phone and …. Tadaaaa, Completely shattered and unusable. My dad rides the bike from the house up to miami beach and that is a 7.5 miles trip. He has left the LG G3 without cover several times under a heavy rain and the phone in his pocket (which is where phones spend about 60% of its life). And the LG G3 still working like a charm! not a single fault by rain, so, that thing about waterproof does not qualify for lets say (light rain , sweat, etc), also you are skipping something. Sure, lets say you drop your waterproof phone under in the water, like,,, an ocean, river, lake, etc… based on what it says on most of the waterproof phones, it can only last about 30 minutes under water, leaving it more than that will cause a leakage of water inside and it will die for good, not to mention if it falls in a river, the current will take it away hitting it with rocks or objects which will certainly break it causing water to come in split of a second. So, would you rather focus on waterproofing? or would you focus on Shatter and shock proofing? I don’t know you but i have never drop my phone in the toilet, water, puddle, lake, river, or anything. In fact, i have the galaxy s5 (which is waterproof) and even it being waterproof, i bought an actual waterproof cover because you never know whether your phone will be the one among many with flaws/defects.

  • patstar5

    It’s ridiculous manufacturers don’t make phones durable. People are clumsy and accidents happen, it’s inevitable that a phone is going to get dropped. Also someone will use it by water and it’ll fall into the H2O and if it isn’t waterproof it’s ruined. I appreciate the water resistance on my Galaxy S7 edge but I’m afraid that edge screen is going to crack all the time… This lg v20 would probably be good with a nice case and tempered glass screen protector but sadly it isn’t waterproof….
    It’s time that a manufacturer makes a waterproof, shatterproof, and drop proof phone. Who cares about 2k and 4k screens when it’s shattered into pieces or a removable battery when the phone gets liquid in it and $800 goes down the drain? Phones need to get practical.

    • n0th1ng_r3al

      They don’t make them durable because you wouldn’t spend an additional $20-$30 for a case. Motorolas shatter proof screens are one of the best innovations out.

      • ggg

        Motorola’s shatter proof screens are made of plastic not glass. I don’t think you can compare it to anything that’s made of glass.

    • nksms

      There’s a limit in the technology used in these phone. You want a phone with a 4k Super AMOLED screen and you dont want it to crack or shutter if it falls, you want it to be waterproof and at the same time not to cost 8-9 hundred $.
      If you want a durable phone go buy a CAT phone or that Kyocera. These are made specifically for that purpose.

      • mary

        I get paid roughly $6k-$8k a month from working on the internet at home. If you are eager to work simple online tasks for some h /day from ease of your home and gain solid income in the same time… Test this invitation UR1.CA/pm79t

    • inspectorgadget

      They don’t make them durable because you wouldn’t spend 800$ any year or max any 2 years on a new device

      • violet.lamay

        I currently make around $6,000-$8,000 /month for freelancing at home. Those who are prepared to do basic at home tasks for 2-5 hrs daily from your house and gain solid checks in the same time… This is a task for you… UR1.CA/pm79t

    • Andrés

      I mean, no news here. They all break.
      So, a silicone bumper case, from the day 1.

    • This is why I have a Galaxy “Active” phone. Dropped, dunked. Still going.

    • Besides added cost at the manufacturing level there is another reason manufactures don’t make their phones more durable (especially the display). The consumers who purchase the phones are the reason. The look and feel of the phone is very much a high priority item when the consumer is shopping for a new phone. Very small bezels or even bezel-less phones are the hot thing with consumers these days. I certainly understand that…the smaller the bezels, the sexier the phone looks. Unfortunately those larger bezels played an important part when it came to absorbing the shock when a phone hits the pavement. It is that shock-wave that ripples out from the point of impact that tends to crack displays. With smaller bezels there is less phone body to help dissipate the shock-wave before it reaches the display.

      • SamsaraGuru

        Well put.

      • quadrplax

        Yes, but just because some people prioritize looks above all doesn’t mean that every single phone manufacturer should cater to that market.

        • It is the premium look and feel of a phone that initially attracts the consumer (the majority of them). Because the consumer places a higher priority on the look and feel of the phone and not form, fit and function, the manufacturers are also going to place their priority on the look and feel. After all. what the consumer finds most attractive in a device is what is going to sell that device. If that happens to be a slick outer wrapping and sexy look at the cost of durability or function, then so be it. The manufacturer is simply out to make phones that sell. They will go in whatever direction the consumer seems to be driving the market at that point in time.

          • quadrplax

            That’s why manufacturers like HTC hardly sell anything. You can’t just copy everyone else, you have to do something to stand out.

    • vampyren

      There is something called cases. There is no magical glass that dont crack. I think people are spoiled and dont respect technology. I never drop my phone and never cracked a screen ever. I see people throwing around their phone at the office like its a toy.
      Same goes when people hand over their 800$ phone to their kids, i always get amazed.Its not a toy.

    • SamsaraGuru

      Those features will appear in the upcoming “new and improved and even better than before” LG V30, whatcha wanna bet?

      I agree it would be nice to have durability but every time a new feature is added it can’t help but add cost and at the lower end especially, cost is a major motivating factor and selling point.

  • n0th1ng_r3al

    Do tempered glass protectors hekp?

    • HitokiriX

      Very much so.

  • Xtopher

    A drop test already.. thanks for that though

  • utvic

    The phone has just been announced, maybe LG will fix durability issues later on when it gets launched worldwide (I heard it’s not coming to Europe which is very disappointing, considering the population they ditch).

  • Awesome Bryner

    No what is ridiculous is people drop testing a perfectly not broken phone to break it. All that money wasted for nothing. Just to be destructive. I can’t even afford a $50 phone and to see this makes me sick. If people are this careless to their phones in the first place, then they should never own one at all.

    • reticentrahul

      Agreed! These are not just phones anymore, nowadays smartphones are like mini-computers costing $700-$800. Someone spending that kind of money ought to be ultra careful with their phones.

    • pseudo

      that being said, would you rather the companies be able to say whatever and have it be untrue?

      Nobody would have believed how tough the motorola force turbo was until all those extreme tests came out proving it’s durability.

      P.S. I also have a cheapy phone so I do get where you are coming from. XD

  • Twelk

    I’m still waiting for a manufacturer to annodize a phone with a similar coating to Armytek flashlights or Extreme Ratio knives. An ultra-grippy not slick surface.

    • noh1bvisas

      the v10 was kinda like that.

  • Arc Naut

    LG always a step behind. Where’s the waterproofing? You can’t do it? But Samsung S5 had some waterproofing.

    Also LG’s battery always so behind compared to others. I consistently get 3 hrs of battery only when power-using (mobile, wifi, surfing/video chat, games). Top phones do at least 4 to 6 hrs.

    That’s why LG will always play 2nd fiddle. Come on, Samsung S7 edge gave you a clear blue print. Not only do you lose in design, you lose in functionality. Stop the stupid gimmicks nobody cares about. 2nd screen? Are you kidding me? Make the battery bigger, last longer, even if you have to change screen technology. The phone looks just ordinary compared to Apple and Samsung flagships. You can’t even attract those who buy phones on looks. What do you offer instead? And charge almost similar prices to top flagships? You don’t even have the most powerful processor. You have ‘nice’ camera, but so do others Now Samsung and iPhone has waterproofing, what do you have? Able to exchange battery (that needs to be changed frequently because it is so weak and inefficient) and ‘better’ sound quality? Are you serious? As if anyone can tell difference between 32kbits and 48kbits. What a joke. Stop beating around the bush LG. You can do better than that. Beat Samsung and Apple at their own game, stop playing catch-up and sell phones 90% of their rate while really not standing out in looks or functionality.

    • Andrés

      only few people REALLY need waterproofing.
      while EVERYONE needs the removable battery.

      (even those that claim they don’t, but let’s wait some 12 months and see what happens, they will sing differently.)

      • Danny

        Nobody wants a removable battery until the company recalls their entire phone because their batteries are melting due to battery issues.

        • Rowlin

          Plus Note 7 batteries are not replaceable, even by the service center, so when it dies your phone is dead. There’s some great functionality

          • noh1bvisas

            great for phone sellers. not so great for phone owners.

        • I disagree with that. Most people I knoiw (including myself) would love to see removable batteries in all phones. This really isn’t because many of the current phones cannot make it through a full days usage on a single charge. The fast charging, turbo charging (whatever certain manufacturers are calling it), has gone a long ways towards making that a thing of the past. On the other hand, this has everything to do with forced obsolescence on the part of the manufacturers. When you pay $600 plus dollars for a new flagship level phone, you would like that investment to last awhile before you are once again shelling out that amount of money for a new device. Unfortunately with a battery that is not replaceable you are only going to get about 2 years of use out of that device before the battery will no longer hold enough of a charge to make the phone usable beyond a few hours. I would prefer not spending $600 plus dollars every 2 years on a new device. The SOC’s that come in flagship phones these days are more than powerful enough to still deal with pretty much anything an Android based app can throw at it even 2 years down the road. With flagship phones now coming with 4gb to 6gb of RAM for the system, it is also highly unlikely that 2 years down the road you would be running into system RAM limitations. Sure, it is nice to have a new phone with the latest and greatest in the way of hardware in it but it is also nice not to automatically spend that amount of money every few years when your two year old device is perfectly able and capable of dealing with whatever you throw at it. If these devices still had replaceable batteries, then you would only have to purchase a new battery instead of a whole new device. It is obvious why the device manufacturers would prefer their devices had non-removable batteries though. I doubt we will see them making a comeback. As I am typing this out on my desktop PC I am reminded of a good example of what I am talking about. My desktop PC is about 10 years old. It’s processor is a second generation Intel I5 quad core processor. The PC also has 16gb of RAM. When I purchased it, it came with Windows Vista which was the current version of Windows at that time. Over the years the OS had been upgraded to Windows 7 and then Windows 10 last year. Even though the PC is about 10 years old, that Intel I5 quad core processor and the 16gb of RAM still handle any software I install on it and I have never felt that I will need to upgrade the CPU soon. Since this is a desktop PC I am referring to, it runs strictly off of A/C electrical power and not batteries so there has not been any other issue forcing me to replace it. Imagine if it ran off of batteries that needed to be recharged everyday and those batteries could not be replaced. I would have had to purchase a new CPU unit several times over by now. That just doesn’t seem right considering that the PC is more than capable in every other way. So why are we putting up with forced obsolescence in our mobile devices?

    • DDD

      Shall I introduce you to the plethora of flagship phones that aren’t waterproof?

  • Dropping is one thing.
    I’ll take my waterproof Samsung “Active” phone over this solely because it’s also my everyday camera as well.
    Raining? I still take photos.
    Kids playing at the splash park? I still take photos.
    Underwater in our pool? I still take photos.

    Falls in a puddle? Doesn’t matter.
    Gets dirty? I literally wash it off.

    And I’ve dropped and dinged it a few times already. You’d hardly know, though, cause it will works and looks fine.

    My only complaints are the slippery surface and non expandability.
    If Samsung can put a grippy “leather” like surface on a phone, why not put it on the rugged phone so it doesn’t slip out of your hand in the first place? And my S6 is not expandable with a big-ass MicroSD card. Yes, I know the S7 solves that. But I’m reluctant to upgrade for one feature alone. Although 16 GB is killing me with all the 4K video I shoot.

  • Tanja Tapiiri

    No IP67 (=iPhone 7) or IP 68 (=Galaxy S7). Of course IP67 and IP68 are practically the same as Samsung’s version of it is almost the same as IP67. For a phone this expensive one would expect some water and dust proofing, so I will skip LG.

  • Sapiderman ✓ᶰᵒᵗ ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    can you at least write a review about this phone before break it? :P

  • i really love LG phones. i think the problem for them is that their marketing isn’t really sexy (well the modularity thing was interesting) or eye-catching enough. but as a power user i always love that they have removable storage and batteries. making them more damage resistant is another plus for me. i don’t know if that’ll make the phone the big seller they want though.

  • Just FYI – because there are people who’ll freak out about it – the phone comes apart on impact to dissipate the impact energy into kinetic energy of the separated parts so that said energy doesn’t go into the screen and break it.

  • Muhammad Haqqi Al Farizi

    You should try to drop the phone onto the ladder

  • Jose C Guillen Q

    For those of you who want both IP68 (waterproof phone) and MIL-STD-810G (Shockproof phone) in your phone, this is what you need. Other wise, stop complaining about LG LOL! By the way, Thanks for the video, i know it hurts to spend all that money to in the end destroy it, on the other hand, to test the hardness of a phone is to proof whether what the Manufacturer says about it is right or wrong.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0be4e447e887bb5e2d8460cfe50a3cd2766c06518cb3f727351d02ac532044c4.png

  • Joms

    Love the FP notification pull-down feature on my Nexus 5X with Beta 7.1 =D
    Now if we can only make that FP scanner work for scrolling/navigation, it will be awesome!

  • Pam Hstadt

    well, 3 days in, standing in front of the phone store to get a case for it, my son dropped his 3 day old V20. 150 to replace with insurance. Grr. Anyhow, get a case for it. it only fell a few feet out of his pocket while he was doing a good deed.