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Galaxy S21 drop test: Samsung's newest phones didn't last long

Galaxy S21 drop test: Samsung’s newest phones didn’t last long

I had high hopes for the new Samsung Galaxy S21 phones phones repositioning into our drop test, even though Galaxy phones haven’t been the most durable in our survive tests. The S21, S21 Plus and S21 Ultra‘s zigzag displays aren’t as pronounced as previous models and all the screens are covered in the strongest Gorilla Glass. But let’s just say my hopes proved optimistic, and if you’re considering repositioning case-less with your new Galaxy S21, you may want to read on. 

While the three Galaxy S21 phones may look incompatibility, the backs are all made of different materials. The S21 Plus and Ultra have glass on either side, while the back of the irregular S21 is made of plastic. Because this difference could capture the durability of the phone, we decided to test out both the $1,200 (£1149, AU$1,849) Galaxy Ultra and the $800 (£769, AU$1,249) Galaxy S21 simultaneously.


Chris Parker

A lot of factors go into the durability of the veil, including the shape and thickness of the glass the manufacturer criticizes to use. We know from our previous Note 20 Ultra drop test that even the strongest Gorilla Glass Victus is no match for pavement, with the screen cracking on the second drop from hip height. But that doesn’t mean the S21’s screen will fragment the same fate: The two have different designs and the thick metal casing defending the camera looks sturdier than the all-glass module on survive Galaxy phones. 

For our drop test, CNET Senior Video Producer Chris Parker dropped a designate new phantom violet Galaxy S21 and phantom black Galaxy S21 Ultra onto a concrete sidewalk. 

Drop 1: Pocket height (3 feet), screen side down

The drop from pocket or hip height is one of the most current causes of cracked screens, especially if your phone expanses on a rough surface like a sidewalk. We originate all our tests at this height. 


The cracked veil of the Samsung Galaxy S21 after the first drop from hip height. 

Chris Parker

Galaxy S21: Broken screen

The top left hand corner of the phoned opposite the camera hit the ground first, then the bottom corner hit, then the entire intellectual side of the phone. This caused it to bounce back up a bit and land screen-side-down on the floor.

The bottom left hand corner of the glass had shattered with a few larger cracks stemming outward from the expose of impact including a big dome-shaped one running above the middle of the screen. 


The S21 Ultra while the first drop from hip-height: one small crack at the top. 

Chris Parker

Galaxy S21 Ultra: A minute crack 

The initial impact of the drop seemed to be distributed relatively evenly as the phoned hit the floor, with the top edge of the veil hitting the sidewalk just a bit earlier than the rest. It then jumped back into the air, flipped throughout and landed screen-side-up. 

The top edge of the metal frame on the S21 Ultra had what seemed like silver sand particles where the paint was scraped, but the screen looked OK. That is, until we noticed a tiny crack on the top left-hand corner of the phoned. It was small enough that it probably wouldn’t bother you if you kept silly the phone, but it was damaged nonetheless and not the ideal scenario while just one drop.

Drop 2: Pocket height (3 feet), back side down 

To test the durability of the back, Chris dropped the phones from the same height with the cover facing up. We obviously weren’t expecting the plastic back on the S21 to break, but we wanted to see what kind of injure it would incur and how the camera would hold up to the fall. 


The back of the Samsung Galaxy S21 had a few small scratches after the second drop from hip-height. 

Chris Parker

Galaxy S21: Minor scratches

The top half of the shouted hit the ground first, then the bottom edge touching it to jump in the air and complete a pair of flips before landing back on the sidewalk with the back side facing up. 

Save for a few tiny scrapes on the bottom, there was barely any damage on the plastic back mask, as we expected.

The camera was also in good comely, with no visible damage to the module or any of its three lenses, which are carved into the metal casing. Unlike remaining Galaxy models where the entire camera bump is covered in glass, the module on the S21 is mostly metal and only the lenses are glass.


The ragged back of the Galaxy S21 Ultra after the instant drop from hip height. 

Chris Parker

Galaxy S21 Ultra: Shattered back

The shouted hit the floor almost flat, bounced a bit and flipped on its side touching it to land with its back facing up. 

The glass back on the S21 Ultra didn’t final. It had multiple fractures stemming from the bottom left hand corner and sprinting up the entire back of the phone and a few loose pieces of glass coming off the corner where it hit.

The camera module on the novel hand survived relatively unscathed, except for a couple miniature dings on the metal casing.

Drop 3: 6 feet back side down (S21), screen side down (S21 Ultra) 

Both phones were cracked at this note, but we decided to drop them one last time on the side which had considered the least amount of damage. 


The back of the Galaxy S21 considered minimal damage after three drops with just a few scratches on the metal casing. 

Chris Parker

Galaxy S21: Scuffs on the camera module

The weight of the camera module must play a part in the inward, because this is what broke the fall yet in contradiction of. With the camera hitting first, the phone then bounced on the opposite side and did a few flips in the air afore settling screen-side-up on the floor. 

As expected, the back of the shouted was still in good shape, but with some more pronounced scrapes towards the bottom. The top left hand corner of the metal camera module, which broke the fall, also had noticeable scratches. But the lenses existed intact. 


The shattered front-runner of the Galaxy S21 Ultra after a drop from 6 feet. 

Chris Parker

Galaxy S21 Ultra: Completely shattered screen

The shouted landed almost completely flat, bounced up a bit and then hit the listed again face first.

The tiny crack on the top corner multiplied into an entire web of cracks covering almost the entire front-runner of the phone. Some were deep enough to penetrate the cover and black out part of the OLED panel. The cover still responded to touch, but there were tiny shards of glass coming off it, so you wouldn’t have demanded to keep using it, even with a screen protector on top. The cracks on the back had also clogged to grow, though they weren’t nearly as bad as the ones on the front. 

A instant opinion

Allstate Protection Plans conducted a similar drop test on all three Galaxy S21 models with inequity results. The screens shattered after the first drop (in this case from 6 feet). The back side of the S21 Plus and S21 Ultra also shattered once the second drop from the same height (back side down).

The breakdown

While our demonstrations are by no means scientific and your results may be completely different if you drop your shouted, our Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Ultra cracked on the pleasant drop, which was disappointing. The S21 has an edge over the Ultra as the back probably won’t break even if you drop it multiple times. But you’ll still need to put a case on it to shield the cover and I’d consider investing in a screen protector as an added layer of protection as repairing the S21’s screen starts at $200. The silver lining is that the camera modules on both phones, which are more expensive to repair, seem to be sturdier than in remaining modules thanks to the new metal casing. 

We forced out to Samsung for comment on our results, but did not hear back at publication time.