We broke $9,000 worth of phones to find the toughest iPhone X case
We challenged 12 case makers to a live drop test at CES and dropped their cases from 20 feet. These were the last ones standing.
Vanessa Hand OrellanaCNET Senior Editor
As head of wearables at CNET, Vanessa reviews and writes about the latest smartwatches and fitness trackers. She joined the team seven years ago as an on-camera reporter for CNET's Spanish-language site and then moved on to the English side to host and produce some of CNET's videos and YouTube series. When she's not testing out smartwatches or dropping phones, you can catch her on a hike or trail run with her family.
Lexy is an on-air presenter and award-winning producer who covers consumer tech, including the latest smartphones, wearables and emerging trends like assistive robotics. She's won two Gold Telly Awards for her video series Beta Test. Prior to her career at CNET, she was a magazine editor, radio announcer and DJ. Lexy is based in San Francisco.
ExpertiseWearables, smartwatches, mobile phones, photography, health tech, assistive roboticsCredentials
Even if you've never dropped a phone in your life, putting a case on it is almost non-negotiable. Especially if it has glass on either side, like the
Galaxy Note 8
or just about every other major flagship phone from LG to Samsung.
Need convincing? Just take a look at some of our drop tests. The iPhone X cracked on the first drop, from pocket height!
But cases seem to be a dime a dozen, so how do you know which one will keep your phone from shattering? That's where we come in...
We invited the top case makers in the market to participate in a live drop test at
to find out which one could survive the highest drop.
We started off our first round testing out the claim. This is the maximum drop height that the case is designed to withstand according to the manufacturer. Bumpers, covers, massive cases and screen protectors were all fair game as long as they were included in the box.
Each case was dropped screen side down onto concrete slabs. For drops higher than 6 feet (roughly 1.8 metres) we used a scissor lift and tape measure. But since we're only human, there was no way to guarantee that each phone would land exactly the same way every time. So this is not meant to be a scientific test and more of a real-world scenario. Here are the results:
Note: Some case makers like RhinoShield decided to start higher than the maximum drop height claim on the box.
OWC's phone survived the drop without a scratch, but upon closer examination we found that the screen had a few damaged and discolored pixels. For the purpose of our competition we decided that kind of damage was enough to disqualify contestants.
That left us with 10 survivors. The two cases that made it to 16 feet (4.9 metres) automatically qualified for the second round, but we gave everyone else a chance to compete by dropping their cases from the same height. And everyone else took us up on the offer.
All of the cases that made it to our second round already proved their claim and kept the iPhone X in pristine condition. Even the lowest claim (4.5 feet or 1.4 meters) was higher than the height our naked iPhone X was able to withstand. From this point on, our drop tests were purely for the sake of our competition given both the
and the cases had already been compromised from the first drop.
We then dropped the 10 remaining contestants from 16 feet on the scissor lift.
iPhone X cases, round 2
No (cracked screen)
No (cracked screen)
No (screen did not turn on)
No (damaged pixels)
Unicorn Beetle Pro
That left us with six cases still in the running: Caseology, Rokform, Tech 21, Zizo, Supcase and Pelican. Which meant we had to take them even higher.
To say these cases had gone above and beyond their call of duty was an understatement. At this point we took the scissor lift to 20 feet (6 meters), the maximum height possible without busting through the ceiling above the CNET stage in the Las Vegas Convention Center. All six case makers took us up on the challenge to drop their cases a third time from this height.
This savage round left us with Rokform, Zizo, Supcase and Pelican.
We still had four cases in the running and nowhere else to go, so we turned to our live audience for ideas. The consensus was to drop them a fourth time from 20 feet, but this time on their side instead of face first.
All four of them survived, but the Rokform case dislodged on one of the sides upon impact leaving one of the corners of the phone exposed. This caused a small scratch on the metal border which meant they were disqualified.