Apple's durability testing is way more than a YouTuber can manage

Posted:
in iPhone

Apple has revealed how iPhone and iPad drop tests should really be done -- and are being done, thousands of times, in its durability testing labs.

A smartphone mid-air against a plain background, captured just before it makes contact with a surface.
Apple will drop-test thousands of iPhones like this (Source: MKBHD)



YouTubers will buy one Apple device and smash it to pieces as pathetic clickbait. They always justify it, though, by saying these devices must be tested -- and now Apple has politely suggested that they hold its beer.

Marques Brownlee, MKBHD -- who doesn't smash up the devices that his YouTube channel covers -- has been shown around Apple's testing labs for the iPhone. Every test any YouTuber ever makes on a device has been done by Apple first.

I recently got to visit some Apple labs where they durability test new iPhones before they come out, and learned a few things (THREAD)

#1: Have you actually seen how they water test phones for IP ratings? (video) pic.twitter.com/Qh3hfmlmdn

-- Marques Brownlee (@MKBHD)



In a thread on Twitter, MKBHD shows how in Apple's labs "there's an entire room of machines for water and ingress testing." They range from a simulation of light rain to "high pressure spray from a literal firehose."

Then there's the drop test, so beloved of YouTubers. Except in Apple's case, industrial robots perform hundreds of drops, and each drop is monitored in slow motion.

Add to this a shake test that can mimic an iPhone being in the pocket of someone on a motorbike, and overall Apple tests to a degree that inconceivable for any individual YouTuber. Then if any one did manage to match Apple's own testing, they'd also have to buy over 10,000 devices.

That's how many of a new iPhone model will go through preposterous levels of durability testing. At retail, that's a minimum of just under half a million dollars of iPhone -- if you chose the lowest-cost iPhone SE.

Apple's head of hardware engineering, John Ternus, says that the company does pay attention to durability issues once a device is on sale, but that this all helps improve the in-house testing.

"We've found when we'll pull units back from the field and we'll find things and figure out how do we build a test that represents maybe this new use case that somebody's doing in the field," said Ternus, "and then that becomes a part of our test suite."

Ternus also argued that durability is the best option for the customer and the planet, even if to achieve that, Apple has to make it harder to repair devices.

"It's objectively better for the customer to have that reliability," he said, "and it's ultimately better for the planet because the failure rate since we got to that point have just dropped, it's plummeted."

"So you can actually do the math and figure out there's a threshold at which if I can make it this durable," continued Ternus, "then it's better to have it a little bit harder to repair because it's going to net out ahead."

That's a debatable point, at least according to Right to Repair advocates such as iFixit. That firm dissembles one of most Apple devices in order to assess its long-term repairability.



Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    mikethemartianmikethemartian Posts: 1,408member
    Referring to YouTuber videos as “pathetic clickbait” just allows them to say the same thing about your articles.
    williamlondonVictorMortimerbeowulfschmidtmichelb76grandact73spheric
  • Reply 2 of 17
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,799member
    "Ternus also argued that durability is the best option for the customer and the planet, even if to achieve that, Apple has to make it harder to repair devices"

    I wonder if he can explain how the move to glass backs helped in durability?

    Apple does not have to make devices harder to repair to achieve optimum durability. 

    Unfortunately, in some cases the point is basically moot because a repair can be so expensive that a user is 'encouraged' into getting a new device (or AppleCare of course). 

    Actually designing for repair would be a better option and is what that EU is edging towards. Apple has seemingly already made some minor concessions on that front. Maybe more to come? 

    I have long argued against waterproofing with seals if the waterproofing isn't covered by the warranty. 

    All the major manufacturers perform similar testing anyway and those making 'rugged' phones obviously do more. 

    The YouTubers do serve a purpose when it comes to comparing devices out in the real world. No matter the absurdity of some tests. Internal testing has to be conducted of course and there are very likely legal requirements on minimum levels but internal testing is inherently a non-public affair so no amount of screen scratch resistance marketing claims will ever be a substitute for a guy on YouTube trying to scratch a screen to death. 


    VictorMortimermuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 3 of 17
    10,000 iPhones at retail would cost a minimum of $5M not $0.5M.  
    williamlondonbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 17
    kmareikmarei Posts: 193member
    if you drop an iphone 4 on the ground, it breaks
    if you drop an iphone 15 on the ground, it breaks

    not belittling the hard work that goes into each gen of gorrila glass
    but whats the benefit?
    it still breaks when you drop it
    and having a glass back now means i have the 2 largest surfaces that are delicate now

    williamlondonVictorMortimer
  • Reply 5 of 17

    Not sure why Apple makes any products or Appleinsider bothers to write any articles as everyone on these forums appears to be way more knowledgeable than anyone that actually does something.

    JamesAstrowilliamlondonbaconstangronnmichelb76grandact73watto_cobrapascal007gilly33TRAG
  • Reply 6 of 17
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,675member
    One thing about all of this testing, not matter what it is:  It only proves that the device in question passes that exact test as it was performed and doesn't indicate any other specific result or condition that may vary from those methods.  

    Sure, it's a start, but it's impossible to test for all possible ways to drop a phone, wet a phone, etc.   Obviously, passing a barrage of tests is better than not passing the same exact tests.


    beowulfschmidtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 17
    mretondomretondo Posts: 94member
    kmarei said:
    if you drop an iphone 4 on the ground, it breaks
    if you drop an iphone 15 on the ground, it breaks

    not belittling the hard work that goes into each gen of gorrila glass
    but whats the benefit?
    it still breaks when you drop it
    and having a glass back now means i have the 2 largest surfaces that are delicate now

    My wife, daughter and myself have owned iPhones 4s, 6s, 8, 10 sx, 12 mini, and a 14. No cases on any of them and only 1 cracked back glass on my 10 sx when I knocked it off a 5 foot counter onto ceramic tile. I'd say that's very durable.
    MplsPwilliamlondonbaconstangronnwatto_cobragilly33
  • Reply 8 of 17

    Not sure why Apple makes any products or Appleinsider bothers to write any articles as everyone on these forums appears to be way more knowledgeable than anyone that actually does something.

    Yup. It's always easier to critique than it is to create.
    williamlondondewmeronngrandact73watto_cobrapascal007gilly33
  • Reply 9 of 17
    williamlondonwilliamlondon Posts: 1,353member

    Not sure why Apple makes any products or Appleinsider bothers to write any articles as everyone on these forums appears to be way more knowledgeable than anyone that actually does something.

    This forum has been chasing MacRumors for years now and they're about there, trolls galore, no technical discussions just negative nellies spewing shit, the big race to be the first to post a negative comment, resident corporate shills and a shift in the editorial a few years ago to lure more of that type here.
    ronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 17
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,963member
    mretondo said:
    kmarei said:
    if you drop an iphone 4 on the ground, it breaks
    if you drop an iphone 15 on the ground, it breaks

    not belittling the hard work that goes into each gen of gorrila glass
    but whats the benefit?
    it still breaks when you drop it
    and having a glass back now means i have the 2 largest surfaces that are delicate now

    My wife, daughter and myself have owned iPhones 4s, 6s, 8, 10 sx, 12 mini, and a 14. No cases on any of them and only 1 cracked back glass on my 10 sx when I knocked it off a 5 foot counter onto ceramic tile. I'd say that's very durable.
    Same here - in all the iPhones I and my family have owned I’ve broken one - dropping it on concrete without a case. 
    ronnwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 17
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,476member
    There’s plenty of questionable content on YouTube but the good and very useful content far outweighs the not so great stuff by a huge margin. I’ve found YouTube to be an excellent source of how-to videos that describe how to put things together and take things apart when it comes to a lot of tech gear, automotive, audio components, etc. I’m also very fond of things like music videos and concert recordings from the 1960s to the present day. 

    I trust Apple to test its products thoroughly, both as required for certification and to ensure the quality of their products. I generally don’t find anything terribly interesting in some of the ad hoc and zoo monkey “testing” videos outside of the possible entertainment value. But whatever floats your boat …
    muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondongilly33
  • Reply 12 of 17
    beowulfschmidtbeowulfschmidt Posts: 2,206member

    Apple's durability testing is way more than a YouTuber can manage


    Of course it is.  But they don't show it in the graphic way the YouTuber did.  Did I personally believe that Apple's durability testing was more rigorous than anything a YouTuber could do?  Yes.  Does absolutely everyone trust Apple the way I do?  Absolutely not.


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 17
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,902member
    avon b7 said:
    "The YouTubers do serve a purpose when it comes to comparing devices out in the real world."


    Youtube comparison tests are of no value unless they somehow manage to test the two phones in a scientifically repeatble manner. I've watched videos where they drop an iPhone from some distance out of their hands. Then they do the same thing with a Android phone. Since they are taking no measures to insure that each phone impacts the pavement in a measurably identical way, the results are meaningless. Only machines can perform tests identially and repeatably. Each phone the Youtuber drops hits the pavement in a differnt way - the angle, position, chassis location, orientation etc. are not the same for each phone so the results cannot be compared. Some dude dropping phones from his hands is click bait.
    edited June 2 williamlondonMplsP
  • Reply 14 of 17
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,799member
    welshdog said:
    avon b7 said:
    "The YouTubers do serve a purpose when it comes to comparing devices out in the real world."

    Youtube comparison tests are of no value unless they somehow manage to test the two phones in a scientifically repeatble manner. I've watched videos where they drop an iPhone from some distance out of their hands. Then they do the same thing with a Android phone. Since they are taking no measures to insure that each phone impacts the pavement in a measurably identical way, the results are meaningless. Only machines can perform tests identially and repeatably. Each phone the Youtuber drops hits the pavement in a differnt way - the angle, position, chassis location, orientation etc. are not the same for each phone so the results cannot be compared. Some dude dropping phones from his hands is click bait.
    The value to some is seeing how phones stand up to real world drops and precisely not the controlled type of repeated, controlled testing. 

    However, drop tests are only one of stress tests and the public nature of these videos will always have appeal over lab testing where the results stay behind closed doors?

    If you saw a video where the front or back glass broke on every drop for one phone and not another, you might brush it off as chance, e or you might dig a little deeper into the specs before considering it as a candidate. 
    ronn
  • Reply 15 of 17
    This forum has been chasing MacRumors for years now and they're about there, trolls galore, no technical discussions just negative nellies spewing shit, the big race to be the first to post a negative comment, resident corporate shills and a shift in the editorial a few years ago to lure more of that type here.
    How DARE you dishonor the reputation of these very very brave manly men who have the courage to dare say anything negative about the extremely evil Apple!
    williamlondon
  • Reply 16 of 17
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,963member
    The point that every YouTuber and most other people miss is that every phone will break when impacted in the right fashion. Since there's an infinite number of ways in which a phone can be impacted, dropping a phone in some random manner is really of no scientific value and comparing how an iPhone and a [samsung/google/LG.,,,] phone handle a fall is equally worthless. 

    Case in point - several years ago my brother in law dropped his case-protected iPhone about 3 feet onto a carpeted floor and shattered the screen. You could repeat that 1000 times and never have a problem but it hit just right and cased the damage. 

    It's clear that Apple puts quite a bit of effort into testing and improving their designs to minimize the risk of damage. My experience with iPhones over the last 15 years bears that out.
    ronn
  • Reply 17 of 17
    thttht Posts: 5,530member
    avon b7 said:
    "Ternus also argued that durability is the best option for the customer and the planet, even if to achieve that, Apple has to make it harder to repair devices"

    I wonder if he can explain how the move to glass backs helped in durability?

    Apple does not have to make devices harder to repair to achieve optimum durability. 

    Unfortunately, in some cases the point is basically moot because a repair can be so expensive that a user is 'encouraged' into getting a new device (or AppleCare of course). 

    Actually designing for repair would be a better option and is what that EU is edging towards. Apple has seemingly already made some minor concessions on that front. Maybe more to come? 

    I have long argued against waterproofing with seals if the waterproofing isn't covered by the warranty. 

    All the major manufacturers perform similar testing anyway and those making 'rugged' phones obviously do more. 

    The YouTubers do serve a purpose when it comes to comparing devices out in the real world. No matter the absurdity of some tests. Internal testing has to be conducted of course and there are very likely legal requirements on minimum levels but internal testing is inherently a non-public affair so no amount of screen scratch resistance marketing claims will ever be a substitute for a guy on YouTube trying to scratch a screen to death. 
    Strange language on the quote. The "..., event to achieve that ..." part of the sentence.

    Apple has a lot of axes to consider. I can see durability being more important for the environment than repairability. It's all going to be in the yield rate for manufacturing the product, how durable a product is, how many people repair devices, how many devices they sell, and how long people keep devices.

    If the manufacturing process has low yield, then they could be wasting a lot more material than what is saved from repair, assuming they have designed their manufacturing process for optimal yield already. If it is durable, they could be saving a lot more energy than the effort to make it more repairable. The number of people who keep their phones for a long time and need repair has to big enough to worth the effort to design it for repair. If they don't sell as many devices with a device that is easier to repair, then there is no point. So on and so forth.

    I'd like to see the numbers if they can actually be produced. What's the energy cost of producing another whole set of AirPods versus the cost of an AirPods design with easily replaceable battery? If Apple is making 10s of millions, the energy cost, the CO2 cost of another pair of AirPods may be cheaper than a replaceable battery?
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