The 3rd generation Apple iPhone SE hit stores last week with claims of improved drop durability (“cool with stumbles”) and water resistance (“cool with spills”) thanks to “a durable design and the toughest glass in a smartphone.” After putting the new iPhone SE through Breakability Drop and Dunk Tests, we found these claims to be true. Despite coming in at a much lower price point, the latest iPhone SE proved to be almost as durable as the flagship iPhone 13—with one exception.
Face-down Drop Tests
iPhone SE survived one face-down drop from six feet onto a sidewalk with only minor scuffing, same as the base iPhone 13 and 12 models. This is impressive considering both iPhone 13 and 12 feature ceramic shield front panels while iPhone SE is hardened glass.
Back-down Drop Tests
Unlike iPhone 13, iPhone SE cracked on its first back-down drop from six feet. Structurally, it lacks the protective flat aluminum siding of iPhone 13, which may be part of the reason its glass back panel is more vulnerable.
Side-down Drop Tests
iPhone SE survived one side-down drop from six feet on its curved aluminum siding with only minor scuffing, same as iPhone 13.
30-minute Dunk Test
The new iPhone SE has an iP67 rating, meaning it should survive being submerged in one meter of water for 30 minutes. (iPhone 13 has an IP68 rating, meaning it can survive 30 minutes in six meters of water.) In our test, it did survive one meter of water for 30 minutes without issue. Initially, it did suffer some audio muffling after being pulled out of our dunk test, but was back to its original volume after one hour.
The New iPhone SE Is Both Durable & Affordable
With the 3rd generation iPhone SE, Apple has created a truly durable phone that doesn’t break the bank. It survived one drop from six feet on its front and side, which is impressive. While it didn’t survive a back-down drop from six feet, putting it in a case should help.
While its $429 price point makes the new iPhone SE a more affordable option, it can cost up to $299 to repair. That’s why a case, screen protector, and protection plan are always good ideas.