This Spigen case helped a phone survive the ultimate drop test: falling from 16,000 feet

Spigen Cryo Armor case for iPhone
(Image credit: Spigen)

What you need to know

  • iPhone survives a 16,000-foot free fall from an Alaska Airlines plane. 
  • The owner, reunited with his phone, recounts his harrowing experience on the plane and his astonishment to see his phone intact.
  • Spigen has put the speculations to rest and claimed that their case saved the iPhone.

In an astonishing turn of events, an iPhone plunged 16,000 feet from an Alaska Airlines plane, only to be found fully operational on the side of the road.

We've all heard of the terrifying story of Alaska Airlines flight 1282 when a door plug on a Boeing 737 Max 9 suddenly flew open minutes after the flight took off on  January 5. Everyone on board was safe, but several objects were sucked out of the aircraft and fell roughly 16,000 feet – including an iPhone.

Sean Bates, a Washington resident, took to X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday, January 14, revealing that he had found a fully intact phone and that it was still in "airplane mode and with half battery."

In another video on TikTok, Bates narrated how he went for a walk and found this phone that he was skeptical to pick up.

"It was still pretty clean, no scratches on it, sitting under a bush," he said. 

"And it didn't have a screen lock on it, so I opened it up and it was in airplane mode with travel confirmation and baggage claim for Alaska 1282," Bates explained. 

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As several media outlets scrambled to unveil the mystery behind this airborne iPhone's survival, renowned phone accessory company Spigen swooped in with a revelation.

In a tweet, they declared, "Mystery solved, it was us." The Spigen Cryo armor case emerged as the unsung hero that shielded the phone during its free fall. 

In a video Spigen posted on Instagram with the caption, "16,000 feet is a new record for us too," they connected with the owner of the phone, Cuong Tran.

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An email from Tran's friend, who was on the same Alaska flight, confirmed Tran's use of the Spigen case. Tran and his friend, Huy, recounted the harrowing experience of the door plug mishap. 

"At 10,000 feet, I heard a 'Swoosh' sound on the left of me," Tran recalled on the call with Spigen.

"My whole body was lifted, and my legs got pulled into the hole."

When asked about the phone's survival, Huy admitted they "didn't even think we would find it, let alone find it intact."

Tran said he saw a Reddit post with pictures of his phone on it, and that's when he figured that his phone had survived the plunge.

Tran's phone arrived yesterday (Jan. 15), and he proudly displayed his unscathed phone, giving credit to the hard-core Spigen Cryo case. Despite the high-altitude ordeal, the case only had a bit of dirt, claimed Tran.

Spigen survives 16K fall

Phone that survived 16,000 feet fall (via Spigen) (Image credit: Spigen Twitter/X)

Unfazed by the incident, Tran embraced the saga as an opportunity to upgrade to the iPhone 15. And in what case did he choose to safeguard his new device?

"You know it, it's going to be the same one," Tran said.

"The same exact case," he declared, affirming that he's a Spigen customer for life.

Spigen's Cryo Armor is deemed one of the best thin cases for the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which is no surprise given recent events.

A spokesperson from Spigen told Android Central in an email, "the entire office was trying to figure out if it was one of our cases. Although we couldn't tell just from the photos, we all hoped that by some miracle, it would be ours."

"When we got the message, we almost couldn't believe it, so we immediately dropped everything to get in contact and verify the story. Once we got that confirmation, everyone was so excited and happy that it was Cryo Armor. It was an opportunity that fell from the sky (literally)!" he added.

Nandika Ravi
News Editor

Nandika Ravi is an Editor for Android Central. Based in Toronto, after rocking the news scene as a Multimedia Reporter and Editor at Rogers Sports and Media, she now brings her expertise into the Tech ecosystem. When not breaking tech news, you can catch her sipping coffee at cosy cafes, exploring new trails with her boxer dog or leveling up in the gaming universe.

  • Mooncatt
    I don't blame Spigen for trying to take credit for this, but the phone's survival was probably 0.0001% attributed to that specific case. From 16k ft, the phone would've been at terminal velocity for a good while, so probably little difference between that and a not so impressive sounding 200ft fall (or whatever is needed to reach terminal velocity). Judging by the photos, there were trees and a grassy area beside the road, with the NTSB investigator paying particular attention to the trees. That suggests the phone may have fallen through them, slowing it down, and landing in the grass. The road and phone are also wet, along with dirt/mud pressed into the case (shown in a photo), which suggests recent rain that would have softened the dirt and further cushioned the impact.

    That phone would've survived with any sort of case on it in that situation, maybe even without any case at all. It was pure luck that it did, and Spigen is just using the sensationalism as a PR event.

    Though if Spigen wants to drop a covered phone from thousands of feet onto something that matters, like pavement, then I would be impressed if the case protected enough to survive it.
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  • fuzzylumpkin
    Mooncatt said:
    I don't blame Spigen for trying to take credit for this, but the phone's survival was probably 0.0001% attributed to that specific case. From 16k ft, the phone would've been at terminal velocity for a good while, so probably little difference between that and a not so impressive sounding 200ft fall (or whatever is needed to reach terminal velocity). Judging by the photos, there were trees and a grassy area beside the road, with the NTSB investigator paying particular attention to the trees. That suggests the phone may have fallen through them, slowing it down, and landing in the grass. The road and phone are also wet, along with dirt/mud pressed into the case (shown in a photo), which suggests recent rain that would have softened the dirt and further cushioned the impact.

    That phone would've survived with any sort of case on it in that situation, maybe even without any case at all. It was pure luck that it did, and Spigen is just using the sensationalism as a PR event.

    Though if Spigen wants to drop a covered phone from thousands of feet onto something that matters, like pavement, then I would be impressed if the case protected enough to survive it.
    Couldn't agree more. You can't blame them for taking the credit, but the real reason it survived is a whole lot of luck with a little bit of physics thrown in .

    Mous actually do ridiculously high drop tests for their adverts, though. So unless you believe their cases are really that special, it may not actually be that surprising that it survived.
    Reply