An insurance company once again implies that your phone is ready to fold in half at any time. So why do we all keep falling for this same tired story?
When someone says something stupid about you for the purpose of getting attention, you have two choices. You can either take the high road and ignore it, or you can answer the accusation and risk dignifying what was flung in the first place. Samsung has taken the second route — rightfully, I believe — and fired back at warranty peddler SquareTrade, which last week released a video basically folding the Samsung Galaxy S6 in half. You know, just like the iPhone.
Only not really. At all. It's just more bullshit from a company that's been spewing it for years. (That'd be SquareTrade. Not Samsung. Though the latter isn't exactly innocent in the mud-slinging.)
Drop tests have long been a popular way of getting attention, but that's really all they're worth.
SquareTrade has been dunking and destroying devices for quite some time, coming up with "breakability" scores. Oh, and by the way, they're happy to sell you a warranty plan if you're worried that your device — which they conveniently just destroyed on video — could suffer the same fate. And you'd hate for your phone to break or drown or spontaneously combust or something, right?
It's ambulance chasing. It's smartphone snuff films. And it's exactly the sort of shit YouTube was made for.
Plus there's the follow-up PR campaign. From the release that hit my inbox on April 3:
Bendgate 2? Samsung S6 Edge cracks under pressure and is just as Bendable as iPhone 6 Plus
April 3, 2015 - SAN FRANCISCO, CA – As smartphones becoming increasingly thin, their latest danger lies in the propensity for them to bend and snap under pressure. To help assess this risk, SquareTrade®, the highly rated protection plan trusted by millions of happy customers, today introduced the BendBot – the world's first robot designed specifically to test the bendability of today's most popular smartphones.
Developed in response to the Apple iPhone® 6 Plus Bendgate, the SquareTrade BendBot simulates the forces produced in the average person's back pocket and shows exactly what happens when up to 350 pounds of force is placed on a phone. It joins a suite of bots in the SquareTrade Labs arsenal that drop, dunk, slide and now bend smartphones and tablets to determine a device's overall Breakability Score™.
Let's make a couple things perfectly clear: There's a pretty big difference between phones bending in a pocket (and seriously, folks, don't keep your phone in your back pocket) and bending in the middle when subjected to the sort of force SquareTrade is projecting here. Direct that much pressure at a single point like that, and things are going to bend eventually. Is that realistic, though? I'm a pretty unremarkable white dude, but even my ass isn't that pointy. But whatever. It's good video. Oh, and buy a warranty.
Samsung just gave SquareTrade's 'test' a huge boost of credibility.
But moreover is that while iPhones bending in pockets definitely are a thing — it's certainly happened, and that's not good — it's not been a widespread problem in the scheme of things. That is, millions and millions of iPhones sold. Context tends to get lost amid the shattered glass and twisted frames. But whatever. Warranty plans are cheap!
Samsung calls out SquareTrade's "test" for a couple of reasons. One is that the 110 pounds of force that ultimately broke the Galaxy S6 "rarely occurs under normal circumstances." Instead, Samsung says, your butt's more likely to subject a phone to about half that, and neither the GS6 nor the edge bent at 79 pounds. And secondly is that the test only showed the force being applied on one side of the phone, and that the back is stronger. (Though while we agree that an unscientific test is unscientific — and do note that SquareTrade only bothered with the thinner GS6 edge in this initial video — you're probably more likely to have your phone face-in in your back pocket.)
First, the video assumes a very specific condition – 110lbf (50kgf), which rarely occurs under normal circumstances. The normal force that generated when a person presses the back pocket is approximately 66lbf (30kgf). Our internal test results indicate that the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge are not bendable even under 79lbf (32kgf), which is equivalent to putting pressure to snap a bundle of five pencils at once.
Secondly, even though both front and back sides are exposed under the same level of pressure in normal circumstances, this test does not show the strength of the back side. Some smartphones have different durability in each the front and back sides respectively. SquareTrade has only tested the front side, which may mislead consumers about the entire durability of smartphones.
And here's where Samsung should have taken the high road: They're going to "ask [SquareTrade] to conduct the stress test again which targets both front and back sides, and open the test result to the public." And you'd better believe SquareTrade will do exactly that. It's now got the full attention of one of the biggest companies in the world. And you'd also better believe the SquareTrade logo will be front and center again in each and every one of those new tests.
(And I'm willing to bet the tests will still show that phones bend in unrealistic ways when subjected to unrealistic amounts of force. But whatever. Better buy a warranty, just in case!)
Buy insurance for the peace of mind, not because some idiot did a drop test.
That's not to say that insurance in and of itself is evil. It's an important business. There's a reason why it's required for a vehicle, and why it's so important to have in the health care industry. And if you think it's worth it for your phone, buy all means buy it and go back to what really matters — using and enjoying your phone or tablet. Just do it for the right reasons. Don't do it for drop test videos. Don't do it for BendBots.
Really, all this back and forth means only one thing: Even more free advertising for a company that's been playing on our emotions for years. Everybody loves a good crash video. But until we all ignore it like we should have been doing all along — yes, in writing this we've also become part of the problem — they'll just continue to do it, creating the illusion of a systemic problem where none exists.