If our fall tests have taught us anything, it is that glbad-backed phones do NOT hold up well when dropped on concrete sidewalks. We did not expect that to change with Samsung's new Galaxy S9. It uses the same Gorilla Glbad 5 material as the previous Galaxy S8, both on the front and back of the phone, and has the same curved edges on both sides.
The back of the Galaxy S8 broke in the first fall from the hip height in our previous fall test, but the screen remained intact despite falling from 5 feet on a path of gravel. When entering our test, I did not expect the Samsung Galaxy S9 to have the same fate as its predecessor, considering that it is approximately 8 grams heavier and 0.5 mm thicker. In addition, there is no way for the curved screen to emerge unscathed from another round of falls. Law?!
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The Galaxy S9 gave a good fight in our drop test
Fall test 1
We brought our new Purple Galaxy S9 Lilac to the sidewalk near the CNET office in San Francisco, the same sidewalk where the iPhone X had been broken in his first fall in our test just a few months before. As in previous tests, the height of fall for our first round was 3 feet (0.9 meters), simulating what would happen if it fell out of your pocket.
This test only approaches a real-world scenario, with no way to have total control of how the Galaxy S9 will land. I dropped the screen up first to badess the hardness of the back. In fact, the back hit first, but it was not completely flat when it hit. The right side touched the ground initially, and then the phone swiveled around the corners until it settled on the ground.
The screen, as expected, survived without a scratch, but the back was very broken. The left side had broken just at the point where the glbad curved. There were small fragments of glbad coming out of the phone while I ran my finger over it. There was also a large fracture that ran from the damaged edge to the bottom of the phone, with small dents in the metal frame. The phone survived, but it was definitely blown to the point that it would require a case to continue using it.
Fall test 2
We set our next test at the same height of 3 feet, but this time I wanted to see if it could really break the screen. So leave it face down on the cement sidewalk.
He fell flat on his face with almost no bounce and a strong thump that sent chills down my spine. Even before turning it over, he could say that the damage to his back had worsened. Upon further examination I noticed that the fractures extended outward from the point of initial impact. Now I had a big fracture in the middle of the phone, the Samsung logo and the power button. He had also lost some more fragments of glbad that had been left loose in his side.
But to my surprise, the obverse looked pristine. If it were not for the video footage and a small scratch near the top right corner of the screen, I would not have believed that this was the side on which I had landed. This was the same crash that broke the screen of our iPhone X in our previous test.
The break down
The Galaxy S9 may have cracked in the first fall, but it remains where it belongs. The screen withstood the hard surface of the sidewalk where many phones have failed. I am beginning to think that it is not chance, although it is still a mystery why it is happening.
When examining the damage in the Galaxy S8 that we dropped last year, I noticed some similarities with the S9 in the type of fractures suffered in the back and the absence of damage in the front. This should not be a surprise, since they are made of the same crystal and the design is almost identical. This is the second time that the screen of a Galaxy has survived our fall tests.
We contacted Samsung to find out why the glbad on their screens appears to be better at resisting falls, and while they did not offer an explanation, they did mention that the S9 chbadis has been upgraded to 7000 series aluminum.  But because our tests are not scientific, this could also be just another coincidence. Either way, you should definitely protect your new Galaxy S9 with some kind of cash or insurance plan. Do not expect your screen to survive the same type of falls.