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Galaxy S4 torture tests include drops, water accidents, heat, electricity; Samsung reveals [video]

A new Samsung video shows us what stress tests the Galaxy S4 had to pass before being launched. Read on for more details!
June 13, 2013
Samsung Galaxy S4

In a new video, Samsung shows us some of the torture its new devices go through before becoming official, including drops and impacts, water submersion, electricity, heat, humidity and dust. The Galaxy S4 is the star of the video below, in which Samsung explains how the tests were performed on the device.

The tests

For drops, the company performs the “consecutive drop test,” during which the handset is dropped “hundreds of times” on a hard metal floor, simulating a drop from a desk. Once the test is complete, the handset “must work both externally and functionally.”

The company also performs other durability tests like the “free-fall test” that simulates a drop from a higher height. The “tumble test” tries to replicate a different accident, like dropping the handsets down a flight of stairs. In both tests, the handset must be “fully functional” to pass.

“Impact tests” measure the resistance of the glass and handset to pressure. In order to pass the test, the Galaxy S4 has to “hold up the impact of a dropped metal ball from a considerable height.”

The “sink test” is meant to tell Samsung how the handset does after accidental drops in water or water spills. Again, to pass the test the handset must work “error-free,” after being taken out of the water.

Resistance to more extreme conditions, such as increased temperature and humidity are also performed. The handset is placed inside “a controlled environment with extremely high temperature and humidity for five days,” and passes the test only if it’s functional at the end.

Electrical shocks and dust tests are also performed with the Galaxy S4.

But what are the results?

While the video is entertaining, Samsung doesn’t present any actual results for its complex stress tests – in fact it does say that it performs other tests as well, which it isn’t able to show. What kind of drops will the handset survive? At what height is that ball placed in the impact test? What about electrical shocks and dust resistance? What kind of water damage can the handset sustain? The company may as well offer more details in such a stress test video – we’ll note that other companies don’t have similar videos, so at least Samsung is trying.

The subliminal message is, of course, that the Galaxy S4 is a well-built device, given that it must have passed all these tests before launch. But the fact remains that these are controlled tests, and sometimes actual day-to-day use may show other results.

Not too long ago, we performed a drop test of our own, comparing the Galaxy S4 with the iPhone 5. While the handset was not able to beat Apple’s smartphone overall, it did not break from the first impact, and survived a second one from an increased height, which is pretty much what “consecutive drop test” and “free-fall test” seem to also indicate in Samsung’s official video. However, a drop from even higher, resulted in breaking the glass of the handset.

It would have been interesting to see how the Galaxy S3 performed in similar tests, but Samsung doesn’t say how the Galaxy S4 compares to its predecessor. After all, this is still a device made of plastic, and plastic is not that fantastic some buyers seem to think.

In other words, the device has its limits, which aren’t revealed in the video. Otherwise what would be the point of launching a rugged version of the Galaxy S4 in the first place? The recently announced Galaxy S4 Active will surely be able to better deal with drops, spills and water damage than the regular model, so in case accidents tend to happen around your gadgets, that’s one model you may want to consider.