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Does the iPhone 15 break easily? What you really need to know

An iPhone 15 Pro Max on a table.
Bryan M. Wolfe / Digital Trends

Just days after the iPhone 15 series arrived in stores and people’s homes, the list of controversies about the new phones has continued to grow. First, there were concerns the iPhone 15 had an overheating problem. Now, an alarming online test suggests that at least one of the four new iPhone 15 models can break easily.

Has Apple released inferior iPhones? Should you be worried? There are a few things to keep in mind.

How did this iPhone 15 controversy get started?

A screenshot of JerryRigEverything's stress test on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Zack Nelson of the popular YouTube channel JerryRigEverthing likes to put new smartphones through a battery of durability tests. As noted, in his video about the iPhone 15 Pro Max, Nelson calls the device’s brushed titanium and the etched back glass “super cool.”

Unfortunately, it went downhill from there.

Let’s start with the good news – Nelson tried to scratch the phone’s selfie camera using a box cutter. Thanks to the Ceramic Shield of the phone, no problems were detected, and the iPhone held up well.

After that, he used the box cutter to drag down the phone’s side. In this test, he removed the PVD coating, revealing the phone’s titanium frame. Nelson then put the iPhone 15 Pro Max through his always thrilling fire test using a lighter. Once again, the phone held up just fine.

Here’s where things go terribly for Apple’s most expensive iPhone. Nelson used his fingers and thumbs to bend the device for the next test. The result? The back glass shattered.

As Nelson notes: “Yeah, I’m going to be honest, I did not see that one coming … [as] iPhones especially do not break, like ever.”

It should be noted the same test was performed on the smaller iPhone 15 Pro and the aluminum iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. Those three phones didn’t break with Nelson’s fingers and thumbs test.

Naturally, this led to meltdowns across the internet, including on Reddit, Twitter, Apple discussion boards, and elsewhere.

Does the iPhone 15 have a durability problem?

And iPhone 15 Pro Max in white with a hammer head sitting on top.
Bryan M. Wolfe / Digital Trends

If you search online for “iPhone 15 Pro Max durability test,” several articles discuss the phone’s alleged fragility. However, all of these articles refer to JerryRigEverthing’s test. I couldn’t find videos where another fingers and thumbs test is performed on the handset. Given that the iPhone 15 Pro Max starts at $1,199, I’m not surprised.

That being said, Nelson’s findings are still valid, and it’s not a good look for Apple, notably when the other three iPhone 15 models passed the test.

It’s worth noting that I’m a new owner of an iPhone 15 Pro Max. I also do not intend to attempt to break it with my hands and thumbs, by throwing it on the floor, or in any other way. Sorry, folks.

Why you shouldn’t be worried about this

The back of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, being held in someone's hand.
Bryan M. Wolfe / Digital Trends

Nelson’s JerryRigEverything YouTube channel is known for testing the durability of various devices, and his recent iPhone 15 Pro Max test has raised concerns among those who own or plan to buy the expensive handset. However, there are two simple reasons why you shouldn’t worry about these results.

Firstly, in everyday life, no one in their right mind would intentionally try to damage their iPhone to test its durability as Nelson did. Secondly, using a case on your handset (sorry, Andy) is recommended to protect against accidental drops, scratches, and other potential damages, including those tested by Nelson.

In summary, while the test results may be disturbing, they aren’t a cause for concern for regular users who take routine care of their devices and use a protective case.

With all this being said, I have an easy prediction. The iPhone 16 Pro Max (or whatever Apple calls its next most giant iPhone) will pass Nelson’s tests next year with flying colors, as Apple almost certainly doesn’t want to be embarrassed like this again.

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