Stress tests reveal structural weakness in Google Pixel 4

Pixel 4 bend test
Pixel 4 bend test (Image credit: JerryRigEverything)

What you need to know

  • YouTuber JerryRigEverything stress-tested the Google Pixel 4.
  • The phone cracked in multiple places.
  • The structural weakness is in the frame near the antennae.

Professional phone destroyer JerryRigEverything has conducted his durability test on the Google Pixel 4, and the device did not impress the handheld demolition expert.

After chipping away a distressing amount of paint, Zack bends the phone and hears a snap, a sound he says he hasn't heard on a flagship phone in a long time. The Google Pixel 4 is shown with a crack running the width of the side of the phone.

Further bending produces three more cracks, laterally on each side, about a fifth of the way from each end of the device. By scraping away more of the flaky paint, Zack shows that the cracking coincides with antenna lines on the device. Because of the nature of the metal frame of a smartphone, device makers need to leave room to expose the antenna past the edge of the metal box. The lines you see on older iPhones and many smartphones today are often design treatments that hide these antenna breaks.

As Zack points out, most phone makers reinforce the frame at these break points so that bending the phone won't actually crack the frame. While the phone in Zack's video still has an active screen and OS, it is doubtful the radios would function properly after such damage.

Philip Berne
  • Why would you want to bend a phone like that?!
  • ... because that's how you make your living?
  • That's how it bends in back pocket when u sit with phone inside. Looks like it's not a good idea to that with Pixel
  • Probably not a good idea to sit on your phone whatever it is. If I pay $1000 for something, I tend to take care of it. I don't sit on it, I don't throw it when I get mad, I don't put it in a bag with a ton of other crap and drop the bag on concrete.
  • Phones break when they bend? That's crazy talk!
  • You're missing the point. It's not about just bending your phone it's about Google didn't make a structural sounds device.
  • phones bend, this isnt news. put a case on it or dont put it in your back pocket. there, fixed!
  • When was the last time you heard of a phone bending since the iPhone 6?
  • That's the thing though... These days phones usually DON'T break when you bend them.
  • Yeah it's crazy, most dont bend like that
  • A stress test revealed structural weaknesses? That is news.
  • A structural weakness that other devices don't have specifically because their manufacturers KNEW they were weak points and took measures to make them stronger. Google didn't.
  • This was inevitable. Zach's video says it all.
  • Not inevitable, considering he specifically says other manufacturers reinforce those areas on their devices to prevent this from happening.
  • It's almost as if the pixel 4 isn't actually "premium", it's just expensive. Who would've thought?
  • This phone should be recalled like that Note that was blowing up :)
  • Loved my Pixel 2xl. Would never buy this phone.
  • As an owner of almost every Nexus, Pixel 1, 2, and 3... my current Pixel 3 is my last Pixel phone. If it were not my need for a small phone... I would not even had bought Pixel 3. As horrible as Pixel 3 is... I have gotten over my need for a small phone!!
    Instead of getting better over time... they are getting worse and less impressive. Batter life is horrible... apps crash or close because of memory limitations ... I cannot run more than couple of memory intensive apps (if that) ... Though I do not bend my phones ... it's one more thing - on a growing list - that makes this phone less desirable. Pixels are not cheap and even if it were few hundred more ... I would gladly pay it ... if the phone was better. I cannot wait until Surface Duo!!
  • Love my 4XL, I keep it case free as I do every phone I've owned...and I've owned pretty much all current flagships...One Plus 7T, Note 10, Mate 30, iphone 11 pro...and more...Pixel 4XL is my keeper until next years crop of new phones. it is not about is just about the experience and feel. So much smoother and seeming faster than other phones, yes even one plus 7T. I know is is not actually faster from speed tests, but even my wife says it feels faster than her iPhone 11 Pro. I don't have any problem with all the people trying to make such a big deal about little things on this phone. It is best pixel yet and my fav phone at the moment.
  • Some of you are missing the point. This is newsworthy because these days almost all phones (not just flagships) pass the bend test from JerryRigEverything. Zack even says it himself in the video: "Honestly, I haven't had a phone break in so long, it kinda scared me so I stopped." This shouldn't be happening to any phone, let alone an expensive flagship.
  • didnt miss it at all. his tests are not realistic for what happens in the real world, hes specifically trying to break things. i know that accidents happen, but accidents arent the norm, they are the exception. this is a non news item.
  • Just like Government regulators INTENTIONALLY try to crash cars. They are testing for their safety.
  • Exactly. You test worst case scenarios to see how your product holds up. Most phones pass the worst case scenario bend but the Pixel 4 failed. I'm surprised at the number of comments from people who either don't get why this is news, don't want to get it or simply brush it off. I haven't seen a phone break and crack in a bend test in a long time, especially an expensive phone.
  • His tests are perfectly realistic. Or did you miss when Apple didn't address similar structural flaws with the iPhone 6 and it was bending because people were putting them in their back pocket and accidentally sitting on them? Stuff happens, and its clear that the Pixel 4 wasn't engineered particularly well.
  • I might be going off topic a bit here but has anyone been in a cafe with those all metal teapots where the handle gets hot and when you pour the tea it goes everywhere except in the cup? Or used scissors that don't cut anything just end up bending the paper? My point is how do these things get passed as fit for purpose? Whos the person who tests the teapots, pours it all over the table and then says yep that's fine get them in production? Is there an institute of crap design that trains people how to test things and when they don't work to pass them off as fit for purpose??? If this Jerry rig can destroy Google's, yes GOOGLES the multi billion pound/dollar company's best effort just by putting a bit of pressure on it, who do they employ in there product testing department?
  • The mental gymnastics people go through to support and excuse Google for making a structurally deficient phone is mind boggling.
  • Lol $899..... 
  • The pixel 4 XL is why iPhone users laugh at Android. Google should just stop trying to make phones cause they are terrible at hardware. I really wish the pixel was like the iPhone of Android, but Apple stepped up it's camera game and the pixel took a step back this year. Pixels are just cheaply made mid range devices trying to fit in with Samsung and Apple's flagships.
  • I am not familiar with JerryRigEverything. Are his methods scientific? Is he able to measure the force everytime and are they consistent? Are all the variables controlled? I'm pretty sure that I can snap every cell phone in half if I tried. I have seen a lot of reviewers making unusual comparisons with the Pixel 4. This is my first Pixel phone, before that I had 3 generations of Galaxy phones (S7, S9 S10) and before that every iPhone until they got rid of the headphone jack. In everyday use, as an avid photographer, the Pixel 4 works fantastic. I have no issues with battery, I find it responds better than any phone I have ever owned. It takes the best pictures of any phone I have ever had. My user experience is fantastic. Here is what I found out, sometimes a phone just feels right, and even though on paper it's not the greatest, it makes me happy. The best way I can put it, the Pixel feels like what an Android iPhone would be.
  • Clearly you didn't even watch the video. He says specifically that he's tried this on every phone he's tested and the Pixel 4 is the first one to break in a very long time.
  • Could not watch the video and you didn't answer the question. Are his methods scientific or is he just some guy that tries to break phones?
  • I can't answer your question about how scientific his tests are but I feel kinda 50/50 on this issue. When I was looking through endless reviews of the Moto X 2014 the one thing that kept consistently coming up (apart from battery life which I personally didn't have a problem with) was that the screen broke very easily. I've owned my Moto X now for bout 3-4 years and still use it daily and haven't had a single problem with the screen but my point is the reviews came close to putting me off buying what I consider the best phone I've owned which I'm glad they didn't in the end. I do admit I'm careful with phones but I only ever use a clear tpu case and cheap plastic screen guard but the phone still looks like it did when I took it out the box. I do think phones shouldn't break easily but also the way some people think they should be indestructible and throw them around and put in pockets with keys and money it's no wonder they scratch and break. If it's a genuine design flaw then it needs fixing and possibly a recall but it's hard to say when someone who genuinely does this kind of thing for a living and on all the top phones says it breaks easily?
    Sorry bit long winded way not to answer your question though.
  • His methods are scientific.
  • Watched the video and this is definitely not a scientific test. In fact one of the least scientific methods for testing stress on an object I have ever seen. First of all he damages the phone before even doing the stress test. His method does not replicate any real world use. His hand placement can be different for every phone he tests and therefore stress is on different parts on different phones. He starts the video with an obvious bias against the Pixel 4, based on his comments about how the phone was reviewed and not his own user experience. This is not a valid test of the phone.
  • Forgot to mention that there was no way to measure the force that was exerted on the phone, therefore not able to accurately compare one phone to the next. Technical publications, like @AndroidCentral, should not be making any claims based on this person's so-called tests. At the very least a disclaimer should be provided.
  • I think the bottom line is that anybody can break a phone if they try hard enough
  • Good lord. Stop being such a fanboy. The Pixel 4 has an obvious structural defect. Get over it.
  • I'm no fanboy I've never owned a pixel, just commenting on the subject. From what I've read it does look like there's a design flaw similar to the iPhone 6
  • I've been following Zach for a while, subscribed years ago, watched hundreds of his videos, cheered for him and Cambry when they got married. He's a great guy and I'm a fan. Most phones with metal frames are segmented, but he Pixel 4 failed in a way that most phones don't. When will your Pixel 4 fail like this? Probably never. Zach's methods leave a lot to be desired in terms of scientific consistency. How the bend test affects a device has variables depending on placement and pressure and grip and if he ate his Cheerios that day. Scientific testing requires accuracy, and you can't do that with your bare hands and no measurements. He needs a jig with urethane radiused supports for each end that contact the phone a specific distance from the edge, and a press with a rounded contact pad applying pressure that is measured. Same pressure points for each and every phone, and a number to go with the failure pressure instead of "I'm feelin' strong today!" Is his bend test relevant? A little, in some cases. Unlike NHTSA crash tests that are designed to simulate real life scenarios, and are done with hundreds of sensors, Zach's bend test simulates a strong guy bending a phone with no resulting data other than "it bent". Can you imagine a crash test where the published results were "it bent"? Lol. Case in point is a phone I don't have anymore: The U11. Zach failed the device, but in real life the U11 can take a 200lb hit, right in the middle, and be fine. Do a search on "bent HTC U11" and you will find dozens of references to his intentional bend. What you DON'T find is real people with it getting bent in real life, so the phone is safe in that hands of normal people... just not YouTubers, apparently ;)
    And actually, that "200lb hit" I experienced myself. I fell off a stage I was working on during setup, landed on the edge of a wall, striking with my full weight on my right thigh... where the U11 was in my front pocket. The U11 took the full impact, left a rectangular bruise on my leg, and the phone was unaffected. So Pixel 4 owners: Most of you are probably safe.
  • Appreciate your comment. My biggest concern is videos like this affect the reputation of a product. And while most people can probably determine that this is just a person bending a phone, if an online tech publication posts these results without a disclaimer to the validity of these "tests", they give the appearance that this is some sort of scientific result.
  • The U11 did not fail in this way. The U11 failed the same way the iPhone 6 did, which was a weakness around the buttons. The reason you didn't see any is because a phone has to actually sell for there to be real world examples. The Pixel 4 failed because of poor engineering around the antenna cutouts. If a person put this phone in their back pocket and sat down (which is how the iPhone 6 failed) I guarantee you'd see it fail as well.
  • JHBThree, you might have been in the Android Central vacuum a bit too long. The HTC U11 was a sales hit, outselling both their previous phones in a matter of weeks. It was sold out after three weeks, and it took HTC months to catch up with demand. Some called it the beginning of their comeback, but that was killed when the U12 Plus was savagely bashed for a calibration issue. Other reviewers followed like lemmings, and put to death the sales of a phone that was a performance beast that's still competitive right now.
  • Could Google give me any more reasons not to buy this overpriced crap?
  • When it was on the iPhone 6, it was bendgate and everyone making headlines. With the pixel, nobody cared... anyway those videos are quite stupid