Shiny glass might look good, but it just doesn't bounce as well!
You may remember my lengthy editorial about smartphone design, robustness and reliability? If evidence were needed that (ahem) more of the latter two are a good thing, I thought you'd appreciate a link of interest over to a tale of plastic and modular heroics over at CoolSmartphone. Think phones flying out of fairground rides high above the ground and landing on tarmac. And surviving. Amazing.
Yes, I know this linked article is about a two year old Samsung Android phone, but it could equally well be about any smartphone with plastic construction, removeable back and replaceable battery. It's a really interesting data point, anyway!
From the article:
My wife has a Samsung Galaxy S5. It was the last “plastic Galaxy” before the arrival of shiny glass and metal in the S6 and S7. Emily can upgrade, but she won’t. She stubbornly refuses to go for a newer phone. The reason?
“It bounces well, I’m forever dropping the thing.”
Plastic does have good points, and she’s never had a broken screen. You can put this down to sheer luck or a certain amount of “give” in the chassis due to the plastic construction. Perhaps it’s a combination of the two, but either way – despite a huge amount of scratches and dents in the outer casing – it survives....
I want you to be under absolutely no illusion about the sheer amount of abuse this thing has had. Waterproof it may be, but Emily dropped it into the toilet once and, even after fishing it out, the thing still worked. It’s fallen out of her pocket in the shops, out of the car door after parking up, onto the kitchen floor, the drive and has even taken a tumble down the stairs whilst hoovering. It’s got the battle-scars to prove it all as you’ll see later in this article, but it still works perfectly.
We then pick up Leigh's tale as his wife and kid rode one of the more violent rides at a local theme park(!):
When you get on a ride there’s plenty of signs to warn you about removing loose objects. Bear in mind that we’d already been on several thrill rides at this point and both of us had, like many, carried our phones and other valuables onto the ride. My wife, however (and I’m trying to be politically correct here), had chosen to place her phone in an open coat pocket instead of her jeans. The ride above, called “Air Ride”, was one of the last ones we went on and it proved to be… a problem. It may look nice and “friendly”, but this ride throws people around vertically and horizontally at the same time. Imagine sitting on the end of a baton as you’re spun and twirled around. It’s a lot like that. I’m not keen on things doing that – especially not so soon after I’d eaten – so I sat this one out and let my wife get on with one of the kids we’d taken to the park.
Then, it happened. As the ride spiralled around and reached a fair old speed, I saw a white object spin high into the air. It was a stunning pirouette really, and the force of the ride propelled it skywards like an out-of-control rocket. A friend then asked me if that was Emily’s phone. I replied in a familiar resigned tone, “Yep, without a doubt”.
It then came crashing down onto the concrete below, breaking into three pieces. Somehow it didn’t hit anyone else on the ride, and we have to thank the staff for climbing over the safety barrier to retrieve the battery and battery cover. Both of these bits ended up some distance away after springing off the ground and back into the air. The front of the phone was face-down under the ride itself.
After everything had stopped Emily retrieved the front section of the phone. Staff came over with the other bits and told us that this sort of thing was a regular occurrence, despite the signs (sorry guys). What was more amazing was the fact that the screen was still intact. The guy in charge of the ride told us that, “If that’d been an iPhone, it would definitely be broken”. It’s nothing against iPhones – I think the same could’ve been said about the newer Galaxy S7 handsets if I’m honest
But no, this is a plastic-fantastic S5 and, yet again, it had bounced and didn’t seem too badly damaged... The phone itself and the battery cover had survived. Weirdly though, the battery had suffered more damage during the impact.
We pieced it all back together and it worked absolutely perfectly, but after a short while we realised that the battery was becoming incredibly hot. It wouldn’t accept a charge either, so I ordered a new one for about £6 on eBay and it’s now working fine again.
This LOI being posted on AAS and AAWP, I think there's a fair chance that most Symbian and Windows Phone devices would have stood a chance too.
You can read the full illustrated article here (you need to see the photos!) Obviously, most of us aren't going to have our phones projected high into the air, but the tale above is a terrific reminder of the benefits of phones which come apart, either to absorb the shock of impact or for easy repair or parts replacement.
Published by Steve Litchfield at 9:57 UTC, April 5th