Skip to main content

I dropped my Galaxy Note 9 without a case and it actually survived

I typically recommend that people who have a glass-backed phone consider picking up a case to keep their phone looking fresh over months and even years. I often do the same for my own phones, though I don't typically use them long enough to warrant the "long-term protection" argument. Unfortunately, with the Note 9, I didn't get anywhere near the "long-term" testing phase before I really wish I had a case on it.

While pulling bags out of the trunk of my car, I dropped my completely unprotected Note 9 from about four feet onto a jagged concrete floor, hitting the concrete wall next to it on the way down. Expletives were uttered as I reached down to pick up what was sure to be the phone equivalent of a crime scene. Though I haven't shattered one of my own phones before, I've seen many people do so and countless others tell me about their experiences.

To my extreme surprise, the Note 9 survived. Yes, there's damage — that much is to be expected from any phone, especially one made out of curved panes of glass. But the damage wasn't critical; it was barely beyond cosmetic.

The extent of the damage is this: a couple small scuffs on the metal edges near the corners, and two portions of cracked glass about an inch in length on the top-left and bottom-right corners. Really, that's it — from a four-foot drop onto concrete without any protection.

The cracks look bad, but you actually can't even feel them.

The cracks themselves aren't even as bad as they look at first glance. For whatever reason, the glass cracked in a way that it didn't make it all the way through the pane. Of course the cracks spidered out from the metal edge where the impact occurred, but the cracks are underneath the surface of the glass, not all the way through — so you can't actually feel them from the top, meaning there's no chance of cutting my hand or snagging the glass on fabrics as I use the phone. With how many glass-backed phones I've seen that look like they were run over by a truck, this gives me confidence that Samsung (and Corning, maker of the glass) have done some work on this durability testing.

The glass probably wouldn't have cracked without the pressure from the metal frame flexing.

The small scuffs in the metal were to be expected. Most of my metal phones have such damage without any major drops. Aluminum is a pretty soft material as far as metals go (stainless steel is much harder, for example), and it's no match for hitting concrete from this height. Knowing this also gives us insight into what likely caused the glass cracks here. You can see that a vast majority of the glass is undamaged, despite the massive drop. The only actual damage points on the glass come from the glass impacting the metal frame, not the concrete. As the phone hits the concrete, the metal and glass flex; and because the metal is softer, it bends more and hits the less-flexible glass, which causes it to give way and crack at that point.

If the phone were all aluminum, the flexibility of the metal would actually be useful because it has more room to dissipate that movement. But holding onto a glass pane, it was likely a major factor in the damage that did occur. This shows you just how seriously strong this glass is — if you were to drop an object the same size and weight of this phone, but with just glass on the back supported by perhaps plastic or rubber instead of metal framing, I don't think it would've cracked at all. And even though it did, the damage was primarily cosmetic and not critical.

I dropped my Galaxy Note 9

The Note 9 isn't a rugged phone, but it can take more of a beating than I ever expected.

The purpose of this story isn't to solicit a mixture of grimaces and empathy from Android Central readers. No, the moral of the story here is that the Galaxy Note 9 is surprisingly robust. I would never have done a purposeful drop test on this phone, or any other phone, because that really isn't my sort of thing. But I found it so surprising how well the Note 9 took this type of typical drop onto concrete that I had to share. Not only was there no internal damage nor issues with the display or cameras, the only rear panel damage was effectively just cosmetic. All this from a glass-laden Samsung phone, which is typically mired online for being too fragile and too easy to irreparably damage.

Best Galaxy Note 9 cases

The Note 9, at least in my experience, was able to take a serious amount of punishment from a drop that nobody should expect a phone to take unless it is purposefully built to be rugged. But that doesn't mean you should subject your shiny new Note 9 to such an amount of damage on purpose. To keep the damage you see here from even happening, pick from one of the dozens of awesome Note 9 cases out there. (The one shown above is the Samsung Rugged Protective Cover (opens in new tab) The results of my drop only show you that there's more of safety net here than you think — if it were to be dropped or roughed up without a case, there's a good chance it'll survive at least once.

Whether you go with something thick or thin, covering the screen or not, your $1000 phone deserves a little extra protection. Just look at the photos above, and you'll feel the same way.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

112 Comments
  • But... there is damage... AND... cracks to the phone!
  • And as such, the phone did not survive.
  • Yes, cracks and fissures are très chic in place of mere scratches.
  • It did survive if you consider its main purpose is to function as a mobile phone.
  • In that case I've seen phones survive with a lot more external damage too. I am curious how common it is for people to have their phones stop working on the first fall.
  • Break an arm and tell me you won't survive. I'll call bull$hit.
  • When I began to read the story I was expecting to read that it didn't get cracked or scuffed as I've seen in a few drop tests already......but it did. It got scuffed AND cracked. I wouldn't call that surviving. Personally the damage it got would be enough for me to get it repaired, sold, or handed down. I wish these flagship smartphones were actually built to last and survive like Nokias of old. Tech should be advancing not regressing. Glass begone!
  • Glass is not going away. Why ? Because it is the most scratch resistant.
  • It's more the number of antennas and glass being the best for allowing radio waves passing through.
  • Out of curiosity - why is it better than Plastic or Kevlar ? I don't know, but to me, it seems that they all opted for glass because of the aesthetics. My old Moto phones have equally strong signal if not better than the glass back ones - 2013 Moto X, X Pure Edition vs Z Play). Same can be said for Z2 Play (aluminium) vs Z Play.
  • Remember they started with plastic, and people wanted something more aesthetically pleasing.
  • It only takes one grain of sand in your pocket to invalidate this statement
  • I totally agree, that's why I like the Nokia 8, none of that glass back nonsense.
  • Must be a slow day in the news to make an entire article about this...
  • Find it hard to believe that you think all Android Central writes is "news"
  • He's right! It is a slow news day! The only articles posted to Android Central today include one (ad) about Sony's PlayStation, an (ad) about a VPN service, two about Samsung phone related accessories with a bunch of revenue generating links to Amazon and this opinion piece with a misleading, click bait, title that also includes many links to Samsung accessory articles.
    Did I miss anything?
  • I think more phone makers should use the titanium/ceramic combo of the essential, that thing can take a lickin.
  • I dropped all Samsung phones and flourished with the Pixel.
  • Sorry for your loss
  • That's a gain, not a loss. Pixel > Samsung
  • Lol now that's fanboy BS, not a fact.
  • No head phone jack.
    No removable storage.
    No telephoto camera.
    No S Pen. Seems like a loss to me.
  • I'll give you the first one, the second one isn't that much of an issue as most phones have no removable storage anyway, the third and fourth are niche anyway.
  • There's an adapter so I wouldn't give the first either
  • That's why my brother can't charge his Moto Z while playing music in his car. Thank god for that adaptor! But, with my Note8, if the need ever exists, I can charge my device while playing music in my car.
  • No need
  • Says you. If I never had the 3.5mm jack I would be without music for a lot of my last road trip. If you drive exclusively in the city for short periods no, but if you are like us taking multiple day back country trips it’s very welcome.
  • I went two days without a case on my S9+, had a few scary moments mainly taking the phone out of my pocket because of how slippery the phone is. Now I rock a supcase by Unicorn Beetle, with my line of work there is nothing else I would trust. Wish I was rich to where I didn't care if I used a case or not.
  • I dropped my Pixel 2 XL three times without a case resulting in no visible damage except for scratches to the finish. All the drops were in the 3-4 range. Fourth time, I dropped the phone eighteen inches and the screen cracked. Angle of impact makes a difference too . . .
  • And there being a crack means the phone survived?
  • The phone is still perfectly functional with nothing more than visual damage. You can't even feel the glass cracks. I'd obviously classify that as surviving. The phone isn't perfect, but it isn't dead.
  • Not trying to poo pop on the article...but in my opinion...the phone is dead! (and if it isn't dead...it will be) Now that it is cracked (and given the location) that crack will start to spread. Holding the phone, the change of temperature and day to day will slowly increase it. Also, now you no longer are guaranteed your IP rating. Nor would I at this point want to try that out. So while I understand your phone is not dead, it is now considerably more hindered than you might have thought.
  • Good points.
  • Warranty is now also Voided!
  • A crack that looks like that won't get any larger.
  • You are never guaranteed the IP rating. Read the fine print. It clearly states that water damage is not covered under warranty.
  • I have a Note 5 that cracked at the corner over a year ago, and nothing has progressed.
  • My all metal Huawei P10 Plus actually looks worse then this and that's because of the case. It's an original Huawei cover but the top broke resulting in a less then perfect fit. Some sand got in and has done quite a bit of damage. Up top it looks as if I have dropped it. One reason I really don't like cases, but they are good to have if/when you drop your phone
  • Glass smartphones are stupid
  • With exception to the screen, I agree. The back should be polycarbonate, carbon fiber, or something other than glass.
  • The moral of this story is: Manufacturers, WAKE UP AND STOP BUILDING THESE GLASS & METAL SANDWICHES!
  • Morel of the story is, Quit buying them!
  • How did it survive when it cracked? And you are just waiting for the inevitable to happen if you don't put a case on a glass phone. Probably review phone and no one cares if it cracks?
  • Heerz ta goin' nekkid.
  • Can someone tell me why phones use glass instead of something akin to bulletproof glass, sapphire, shatter and scratch proof plastic, or some other transparent, durable coating?
  • It all comes down to weight really. Bullet proof glass is usually fairly thick (an inch or more in the places I've seen it). To get the same level of strength with a plastic back would again, require a thicker piece of plastic most likely adding more weight. Sapphire glass, as best I recall, is very scratch resistant but shatters easily. The properties that make something scratch proof (hardness) tend to make it more prone to breaking. The properties that make something shatterproof (flexibility) tend to make it more susceptible to scratches.
  • Bingo. Manufacturers use glass like this because it's currently the best middle ground between having something that doesn't scratch easily and something that doesn't crack/shatter easily. Also, things like synthetic sapphire and "bulletproof" glass are very expensive.
  • But, there is absolutely no logical reason to use glass on the back of a phone unless all of the OEM's are getting kick backs from the case manufacturers which is unlikely. Hopefully someone will have the balls to build a top spec phone with a grippy rubber back and sides. It would cut costs and make the phone much more durable and practical to use and reduce the need to slap an ugly, bulky and heavy case on an already large & heavy phone.
  • Nokia’s polycarbonate bodies were the best. I loved my 1020.
  • Sapphire coated glass is expensive.
    And bulletproof glass is not just straight glass it's glass, plastic glass Plastic. In layers. And it's more expensive to make than just regular Gorilla Glass And for wireless charging to work it either has to be plastic or glass.
    And their excuse for having an all glass back is it looks premium which I guess it does compared to plastic.
  • But on a side note I wish you could just upgrade chipset in phones. I would keep my V10 I love that phone.
    Plastic back I could remove the back I had 2 batteries. Never had to worry about plugging up my phone.
  • I don't like not being able to change batteries either, however, I think the manufacturers are doing this as planned obsolescence.
  • You've hit on something there. I still very much admire the V10's form factor and powerful but quirky nature. I selected the LG V10 after Samsung emasculated the Note 5. The removal of that Note's micro SD card slot felt like a betrayal of the entire Note 'ethic'. I conveniently received the V20 on the day I sent my second Note7 to the collection depot in Texas in October of 2016.
  • First, there is no such thing as scratch proof plastic. Even glass can be scratched, which is why I always use a plastic film screen protector. When it gets scratched, you can easily replace it. As pointed out above, the more scratch resistant a material is, the more it is likely it is to break. Future screens may be made from "transparent aluminum" (yes, that is the material from the Star Trek 4 movie) but it does exist today.
  • There had to be some kind of poly-compound that is scratch resistant. I can assume the factors are weight, like the above posters said, and price. In any case, I wish all phones that should glass-back phones came with a clear case. You know, some sort of thin protection until, if and when, i decide to get one. That transparent aluminum looks very interesting though.
  • Accidents happen but at least it's still working. I buy cases for each of the phones I've bought. With the high cost of phones the cases provide a limited insurance against severe damage.
  • I mean it just depends, I have dropped my Note 8 which is basically the same Gorilla Glass from my truck which is a semi (T-680 kenworth) I was sitting down I had the door open took my phone out of case and was cleaning it. My husband walked up to the driver's door and asked me what I was doing the phone just slipped out of my hand dropped about 8ft. Only thing wrong with it and had a little Nick in the corner nothing cracked thank goodness. My husband he has a S9 well the 2nd S9. The first one he dropped it maybe was foot and a half and the whole back glass shattered... It just depends how it lands.
  • You were very lucky.
  • I hate putting a case on my phones but now that I am in 6 month cycles to upgrade to the latest Samsung, I put a thin clear care on to protect for scratches since I resell frequently.
  • To each his own, but, I would never use a phone without a case. All of them are way too fragile.
  • I've dropped my U11 without a case onto steel and hardwood several times. No damage at all, not even a scuff or scratch. But, it did not survive the Mr. Mobile review...
  • That is why the Active line is a must have! Make these phones more indestructible. 1k phone and it's basically destroyed. Don't down play how bad it is. It is bad. I have an S8 Active and LOVE this phone. I still have a crappy little case on it but only to prevent slippage. 4k battery all day life. Great device.
  • Yeah cracks means it really didn't survive I'm afraid. That's the ip rating gone right there so it NEEDS to be repaired. 3 of my last 4 Galaxies (s7 edge, s8 Plus and Note 8) all shattered on their first minor drop and 2 of those were in Spigen Rugged Armor cases. Great phones that are way too fragile and also vulnerable thanks to those curved edges
  • You guys drop your phones a lot
  • Apparently 'drown' a lot of 'em too which is why we no longer have user replaceable batteries. Now we have slippery little lozenges with glass 'jaws'.
  • Never , never use a phone without a case.
  • I've never used a case. But then, I've never dropped one either! If you spend $1k (or close to it) on a phone, take good care of it! We wanted those fragile, skinny but beautiful devices just to stick them in a monster plastic thing - how ridiculous! A leather pouch for carrying is all one needs.
  • That's just one drop. Every drop will be different. If someone drops their Note 9 from the same height but it hits at a slightly different angle, then the whole thing could shatter.
  • If it had a case on it, the survival rate goes way up. There were cases made for it by the time it came out. If you buy a new car, you get protection for it(good wax, bra, etc.. , not talking about warranties, and such). Spending upwards for a $1000 phone, then not protecting it is absurd.
  • Bra? Lol. This isn't the 80's. Haven't seen one on a car in years. How's your 8 track holding up.
  • You can get a clear 3m bra wrap.
  • I bet THAT would look good instead of a regular bra! I just have to convince my wife to wear it ;)
  • Honestly I expect all phones should be able to fall four feet and be functional. The fact that it fell four feet and the Corning Gorilla Glass 5 didn't survive... any chip or crack at all... is a fail. You have Corning showing videos demonstrating dropping a phone from 5 feet and survive. Look where your glass cracked... that's why I am not a fan of these curved edges. That being said, I love my Note 8. But just too fragile.
  • I find glass pretty funny at times My iPad Pro’s screen protector has a small hairline crack. Not from a big drop. Just from putting it down too hard.
  • Right on. Breaking the water seal is a big bad ugly oh no.
  • It still cracked, and thus, it hasn’t gone unscathed. Personally, I’ve dropped my Note8 twice in its entire year of service. One was because I tripped over the power cord and the other was when I carelessly had the phone slip out of my hand. The latter was particularly interesting because it fell onto a concrete floor from a relatively low height (waist height for a 6 ft+). Instead of landing with a thud, it landed with a soft bounce. I picked it up and the phone didn’t have any damage, and the reason is because throughout its entire life with the exception of its first 2 days, I kept it in a case (Spigen Rugged Armor until December, where I swapped to the Tough Armor, which was the case the phone was in when it fell). The case also didn’t have much damage. I find it a little sad though that I find that I need to get a case of some kind to protect these glass slabs. I remembered my old LG G4 that didn’t need much in terms of cases to protect its back. With all that said, doesn’t the Note9 come with a rubberized case in the box? I just find it ironic that despite the craze over slim bezels and glass backs that shine nicely in the light, it’s become more and more of a necessity to get a good case, which not only covers up the back (unless it’s a clear one) but also adds bezel.
  • Here is the video by Corning showing how a phone with GG5 should fare. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9FRgZdtvIY
  • It's didn't survive! It's cracked . What's the point of this article? Every phone that I dropped and cracked was fully functional. That's expected
  • I guess if the back glass cracks bad enough, you could put a skin over it.
  • Yeah, a duct tape skin.
  • RIP IP68 rating
  • It's another example of Samsung and really all the rest of the android OEM's stupidity making phones with all glass. That phone is cracked and ruined despite not exploding into pieces like a bottle of good gin falling off the bar. The old Samsung design philosophy using lightweight polymer AKA plastic construction up to the note 4 was far more logical and useful but they caved to the sheep mentality that bling and fluff matters more for a device used in your hands daily. Function and durability over cosmetics should be the primary goal. Why does anyone want or need a trailer queen phone in the first place? We used to only have to worry about one sheet of glass and it was far easier to protect or replace. I'm still using another note 3 because it actually continues to provide far more useful hardware features despite having a bit slower hardware five years later. It's light in hand like a phone should be and I never run out of power with a three battery rotation and have the best universal IR remote I've ever had. The waterproof stuff is the least important thing ever needed for a phablet...just get a special case or gopro for that. The masses have been suckered into accepting planned obsolescence and terrible durability with generally less useful hardware features. it's been disappointing that most android OEMs have gone the route of status symbol Apple. It'd be nice to see a Note Active with a single flat glass screen and all the old design philosophy and features that made the note 3/4 the last of the good ones.
  • It’s likely because it’s easier to sell something that shines and looks great in a store than trying to explain the practical benefits of a particular material. Not to mention that plastic still has that “cheap” sentiment about it, despite the fact that the soft-touch variety has been used for years in upper-end automobiles and nobody really cared, with many auto journalists even referring it as a high-quality material. I’d love for a rubber back to be frank, That’s the material of the case my cases have always been and it not only feels nice but adds so much needed grip.
  • Carbon fiber. The BlackBerry devices have it. Just wanting for a flagship non keyboard device. Then I might just leave my active.
  • Made me recall my three Droid RAZRs. Those batteries were locked-in for freshness too but then, before Motorola dropped the micro SD card slot (briefly) in 2013, I was a Droid enthusiast. I discovered the Samsung S4 that year and the Note 3 in the latter months of 2013 getting a Note 3 for my girlfriend as well. I still admire the Droid's Kevlar backing for the implication of rugged durability. I still have the first three Droid RAZRs which I view as artifacts from a vastly different era.
  • Cracking does not equal surviving. Really AC?
  • I heard Samsung is working on a different material with all the benefits of glass but the durability of plastic. Apparently it's supposed to be on the S10.
  • Lucky, at least it still works. A couple of years ago, I dropped my S6 WITH a case on and it died. It's sad, because I was really starting to love that phone too. Rest in peace 😞
  • You are a frickin idiot. IT IS DAMAGED! I can throw sh*t too and claim it survived according to your bs!
  • Wow. I've had my S9+ for 6 months now and never dropped it even in it's case.
  • As Del would say, 'You plonker!'
  • For all of those with comprehension issues. Superficial damage ≠ functional damage. For example, if someone slightly dents my car, My car survived. It is still functional on every metric. It just has an unpleasing aesthetic damage. That is what the author is saying. The screen has cracks in it that cannot be felt. All other functions of the phone are normal and is still perfectly usable as a phone. The issue is the cracks in the screen near the top and bottom of the device. That may be enough for you guys to trade it in, or pay for a repair. That's your right. But his point is that the phone survived. And by every metric of common sense definition of the word "survive", the author is accurate.
  • It doesn't cost 50% of the car value to repair it if you crack your windshield. That's the real problem with Samsung phones
  • It wasn’t the display that’s cracked. It’s the back glass. Not as bad but it’s still damaged. It’s still usable but many wouldn’t say it survived mostly due to that little crack I still yearn for the polycarbonate days but alas, every phone is like this now.
  • Click bait.....your phone didn't survive
  • Hey ill give you $150 for it. But only if you pay shipping.
  • I'd love a Lumia 920-type polycarbonate to make a return instead of this glassy madness
  • I think the best of all time phone Samsung made was the note 4 hand's down...
  • The real problem is trying to get it repaired. My wife had an S7 edge, and dropped it which caused cracks. After an extensive search to have it repaired ( which took an entire year before anyone would touch it, including Samsung) I found the cheapest I could get it fixed was $350. That was the last Samsung phone I have purchased. Having the screen replaced on a phone should not cost half of the phones cost. I have since researched screen repair costs on phones that I purchase. I currently have a pixel 2, and it has a reasonable $129 screen repair. Samsung lost several customers in the process, we had bought them exclusively prior to this .
  • The phone cracked. I really wouldn't qualify that as surviving. Usually when you drop a phone that is made of a glass sandwich you're hoping the glass did not crack at all. If it didn't crack then you can rejoice that your $1,000 glass sculpture survived but that wasn't the "case" no pun intended.
  • I drop mine too. Only a Lil scratch on the metal. No crack at all. Pretty good
  • You a lyi
  • I had mine on the charger just after getting it and the doorbell rang so I rushed to the door. As I did, my foot got caught up in the charging cable (it's 10' long) and I ended up flinging it into the air. It hit the ceramic tile from about 5' high (and with some extra downward force) and slid across the kitchen floor about 6-8'. I feared the worse but it didn't have a single scratch, crack, or even blemish. I checked it extensively for several minutes. I can attest to it's durability.
  • All the comments criticising Samsung for making their phones with glass backs are cracking me up. I don't know how many Android Central readers are over 25, but I'm old enough to clearly recall a few years ago when all the comments were exactly the opposite. Every Samsung article was followed with dozens of comments trashing the phones for NOT having a glass back like the iPhone.
  • That's the shortsightedness which brought us to the quandary in which we now find ourselves. Samsung was roundly criticized for having such seemingly 'cheap' construction for the perceived tawdry nature of their plastic phones; the online drumbeat only began in earnest three or four years ago. It's a case of being careful or thoughtful in what one wishes for.
  • Here is what is sad. Praise for a phone surviving a 4 foot drop.
  • Buy quality phones, SONY or NOKIA!
  • It did fine considering a 4 foot dive onto concrete. My only question is regarding Gorilla Glass. They're up to version 5. I've read their announcements and statements about the improvements of this version over the previous version since they first started making glass. In real life, is their any difference between Gorilla Glass version 1 vs Gorilla Glass version 5? Or Gorilla Glass vs non-Gorilla Glass? Their videos look identical every year.
  • you dropped and cracked your phone so samsung have now voided any warranty on the handset
  • So sorry to hear this happened!
    I absolutely hate using a case (and am actually morally opposed to / offended by them), but it unfortunately is pretty much required, until they find a way to make them out of metal or at least make the back glass as strong/durable as the front.
  • First thing I do right after I order any phone is to go to YouTube and type in "[phone model] drop test"... Then I watch videos of the phone being abused. Why?...Gives me an idea how durable it is, which helps me decide what level of protection/coverage I should search for in a case. (Note: I hate big/bulky cases.)
  • Can you please post some more pics of the Samsung Rugged Case? The Samsung product page for it has only the rear view. Thanks!