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We’ve already covered plenty of stories about all kinds of apparently invincible iPhone models surviving the harshest of accidental drop tests, or extreme environment survival tests. Well, here’s another one, this one perhaps a little more extreme than most.
That fateful day, David happened to be flying home to Atlanta, from a trip to Colorado Springs. He had stopped to refuel in Branson, Massachusetts, before continuing on the last leg of his journey.
It was around 6:30pm, and David was flying more than 11,000 feet above an endless expanse of farm fields below. He noticed some unique billowing cloud formations off to his right, and decided it was worth taking a photo. As he clicked open the window, David realized that the fact that he was moving at 175mph meant that the outside slipstream would whip the phone straight out of his hand, if he got too close.
David’s incredulity gradually turned to curiosity, as he made up his mind to make the two-and-a-half flight back to Arkansas and see if he could find the phone. He felt sure it would be smashed to pieces, with little possibility of the battery surviving the impact of falling from 11,000 feet.
Once he landed in Arkansas, the soy bean field where his phone happened to have fallen proved a difficult off-road trek to reach. He had to cross nearly a mile of soggy, chest-high rice fields, ankle-deep mud, and irrigation ditches. The destination farm field was planted with waist-high soy bean plants that were difficult to get through.
The Play Sound feature on Find My iPhone didn’t help, since the battery had lost power the night before—most likely pulverized, David felt sure. After a grueling hour of searching, he was starting to give up hope, until he finally noticed the shiny gleam of glass on the ground. When he knew he’d laid eyes on his long-lost phone, David said, he let out a victorious scream.
The battery was dead when he tried to power it on in the middle of that soy field, but that had been expected. A victory was still a victory, and David was triumphant as he began the difficult trek back to his loaner car. Once there, he connected the newfound iPhone to a USB port in the car, and waited with bated breath. It took no more than a few seconds for the phone to respond, displaying the charging logo on the screen.
David was incredulous as he made the nearly-three-hour flight back to Atlanta, and in even greater disbelief when the phone continued to work fine over the next few days. There was no damage whatsoever on that iPhone X, which had survived a fall from over 11,000 feet.
“It wasn’t about the $1500 I would spend for a new iPhone,” writes David. “It was really about the adventure and the intellectual curiosity about whether we could find it and what it would look like after falling out of an airplane.”
Whether David’s story is a bigger endorsement of the endurance capabilities of OtterBox cases, or of the iPhone itself, is a difficult question in itself.
The iPhone X had landed on hard, dry soybean dirt, he says, after reaching at least 200mph in terminal velocity during its freefall, as David estimates. The iPhone model in question has both a glass front and glass back, held together by a stainless steel frame, which—reinforced by its apparently unbreakable OtterBox case—was miraculously sturdy enough to avoid even a dent after a fall from the sky.