While the Samsung (SSNLF) Galaxy S8 is expected to comfortably outsell its predecessor, the S7, following its release this past Friday, a new study shows that the positively reviewed phones don't stand up to the S7 in terms of breakability.
Protection plan company SquareTrade found that the Galaxy S8 and S8+ performed significantly worse than the S7 and S7 Edge on tests that involved robots dropping, sliding, tumbling and dunking devices to see how much they could withstand. The tests are meant to mimic everyday scenarios and showed that the S8's much hyped OLED "infinity" display and all-glass body make it more prone to cracking than the screens of its predecessor -- although consumers don't seem to care.
"While the nearly all-glass design of the S8 makes it a beautiful phone, it's extremely susceptible to cracking when dropped from any angle," said Jason Siciliano, vice president global creative director at SquareTrade. "However, we have no doubt it's going to be a hit. We found that 89% of Samsung owners reported having a positive view of the brand despite recent controversies, and 36% plan on buying an S8 in the next six months. Just don't drop it."
SquareTrade's tests performed on the S8 included:
1) Face Down Drop: The first test involved one face-down drop on the sidewalk, which left both S8 devices with cracks and small chunks of glass missing from their corners.
2) Back Down Drop: The back down drop also resulted in cracks on the devices. The S8 phones were particularly susceptible to breakage from being dropped on their back because of their all-glass bodies.
3) Water Test: The phones did perform well in the water test, which involved dunking the phones in five feet of water for 30 minutes. The only damage done to the phones was slight audio muffling that disappeared after 30 minutes out of the water.
4) Repairability: This test is meant to show how easy or hard it is to fix the phones if something does break. While the inner components look relatively easy to repair, the strong adhesive attaching front and back glass panels and difficult-to-reach battery make other repairs more difficult.
The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge received a 5 and 6, respectively, on SquareTrade's ratings last year, which ran from 1-10. On this year's 1-100 scale, that would translate to a 50 and 60. Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, which launched last September, also scored a 5 and 6, respectively, on the old scale. This year's iPhone 8 is widely expected to also contain larger curved glass screens, which might make them more susceptible to breaking as well.
The Samsung Galaxy S8's glass panels make it particularly susceptible to cracks.
The less-than-stellar results on the breakability test are coming on the heels of complaints from customers over the last week that their S8 devices are showing an annoying red tint on their displays and are experiencing spotty Wi-Fi connections. Samsung said that it would roll out two software updates this week to fix the separate issues with the new smartphones.
The S8 is Samsung's first phone release since the disastrous Note 7 launch this past fall, which cost the company a total of $5 billion, although the company said just 330 of the three million Note 7 devices it sold were affected by the notorious overheating batteries.
"Samsung has had a tough year, making global headlines with major product defects and other scandals, so they had to knock it out of the park with the Galaxy S8," Siciliano said.
Despite the concerns about the new phone, it seems on track to generating strong sales for Samsung. The pre-orders for the S8 were higher than the S7, which came out last March. The company sees the Galaxy S8 selling a total of 60 million units this year, vs. about 48 million S7 units sold in 2016. HMC Investment Securities analyst Greg Roh has a more conservative outlook, predicting Samsung will sell 50 million S8 units this year, which would translate to about $28.3 billion in sales.
Jackdaw Research chief analyst Jan Dawson also sees the S8 outselling the S7 because sales that would have gone to the Note 7 will go to the S8 and because of the extensive update the S8 got in terms of design and features. "The S8 is a much bigger jump [than the S7] in terms of design and has some really cool new features that buyers will really go for," he explained.
For more on the S8's performance on the breakability test from SquareTrade, see the video below.