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Here's how we cracked the back of the new Galaxy S8

After putting Samsung's latest Galaxy through three different torture tests, the results were better than we expected.


If you've just splurged on the new Galaxy S8, the last thing you want to do is drop it. So we did it for you...

We learned from Samsung's previous "Edge" designs that while the curved glass may look great, it leaves more of the surface exposed to everyday bumps, cracks and scratches.

And this year, the edges on Samsung's flagship phones come on both models. Both the S8 and the S8 Plus have Corning's curved Gorilla Glass 5 on either side of the phone, outlined by a slender metal frame.

Now playing: Watch this: The Galaxy S8 takes a hit in our drop tests

Corning says its Gorilla Glass 5 can withstand shoulder-height drops (1.6 meters, or 5.2 feet) onto rough surfaces 80 percent of the time. Corning's claim applies to flat glass, so the S8's curves may alter the outcome, but in theory, the S8 should be tougher to crack than last year's S7 Edge, which was covered in Gorilla Glass 4. But is it tough enough to to survive our tests? Well, yes -- until it wasn't.

The glass back cracked on the very first drop, while the screen held up to our full gamut of tests. Here's what we subjected our brand new Galaxy S8 to...

Hip-height drop

Whether you're pulling your phone out of your pocket or slipping it back into your purse, it's likely you're going to drop it from this height at some point. While a drop onto a hardwood floor might be relatively safe, tile and concrete could spell disaster if you don't have a case on the phone.

For our test, we dropped the S8 (sans case, of course) onto a concrete sidewalk with the phone held vertically from about 3 feet (1m).

A slow-motion replay showed the bottom metal frame hit the ground first, bounced back and landed screen side up.

The three foot drop on sidewalk that caused the first crack on the back.

Vanessa Hand Orellana / CNET

The damage

The first hit made two small dents on the metal border, and the glass on the back had a small crack on the top-right corner. This damage was minor, though, and the screen was still intact, so we continued with our next test.

Eye-level drop

Most of us take our pics at around eye-level, and for a phone as slick and smooth as the Galaxy S8, maintaining an assured grip can be tough.

We set our next drop at 5 feet, slightly lower than the 1.6 meter claim Corning claims Gorilla Glass 5 can withstand. The S8 was dropped horizontally (edge down) onto a stone tile floor.

The edge hit first, slightly angled towards the screen side of the phone, then hit screen side down once before bouncing once more to its final screen-side-up landing.

The second drop from eye-level.

Vanessa Hand Orellana / CNET

The damage

The metal border had a few more dings and bruises, but most of the damage was on the back. The small crack from the previous drop grew into a web that extended across the entire backside of the phone. But the screen was surprisingly still in good shape. Despite the damage, we decided to put the S8 through one final test to see if we could break the screen.

SUV height drop

This scenario is hopefully less likely, but it has happened to a CNET editor or two who shall remain nameless. If you're carrying groceries, car seats or coffee, the roof of the car seems like a perfectly acceptable place to set your phone down while you open the door. Until you forget to bring the phone back in with you before you drive off...

Car heights vary, but we erred on the tall side with and measured our next drop at 5 feet, 10 inches. At this point we wanted to see if the screen could survive once again, so we dropped it face down onto uneven asphalt.

The top of the screen landed first, then bounced off the bottom edge of the screen causing the phone to flip completely landing on its back again sliding about a foot out before coming to a stop.

The phone took a big fall from car-height to asphalt and the screen still didn't break.

Vanessa Hand Orellana / CNET

The damage

The back continued to crack, but didn't completely shatter and the bottom edge of the metal frame had a few more dents from that second bounce.

There was a tiny scrape on the glass on the on the top-right corner of the screen where the phone first hit the asphalt along with a matching dent to the frame, but it clearly wasn't enough to break it.


The back of the phone continued to crack after our first drop, but the screen held up.

Chris Parker / CNET

The final verdict

The rear backing of our Galaxy S8 cracked on our first test. But after everything we put it through, it looks a lot better than I had expected, and it's still very much in working condition. The spiderwebs on the back don't paint a pretty picture, but the glass isn't coming off the phone, and most of the damage could probably be masked with a good case. (This happened to our Galaxy S7 last year as well.)

It should also be noted that our colleague Luke Lancaster in Sydney conducted an unintentional drop test on his new S8 when it slipped from his pants pocket a few days after taking delivery. The screen and back survived, but the frame had a bad dent.

So be extra careful with your shiny, new Galaxy S8, or put a case on it before you leave the store. And definitely don't try this at home.