Samsung’s new Galaxy S21 lineup introduces a new look for its rear camera array, but the change is about more than aesthetics. The contour-cut design also helps better protect the phone’s cameras from damage should you drop your handset.
That’s the conclusion of Allstate Protection Plans, the electronics insurer formerly known as SquareTrade. As it does with many new flagships, AllState conducted a series of drop tests on the Galaxy S21, finding improved protection for the new phones’ cameras. That’s good because the front of Samsung’s latest phones are as vulnerable to damage as before.
The news about the damage to the front of the phones might be a surprise, considering that the Galaxy S21 family boasts Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus. Samsung’s website describes Gorilla Glass Victus as “the toughest glass on a Samsung smartphone,” with the promise of scratch and damage protection.
That claim didn’t stand up to a 6-foot-drop onto a sidewalk in the Allstate Protection Plans test. All three Galaxy S21 models suffered cracked screens after one drop, with the Galaxy S21 Ultra sustaining the most damage. The 6.8-inch phone, which is the priciest of the three models, was unusable after one drop that left it with a cracked screen and loose glass.
The Galaxy S21 Plus also suffered loose glass and a malfunctioning screen when dropped face first, while the Galaxy S21 emerged as the least damaged model. It had a cracked screen with raised glass, but the 6.2-inch phone was still functional.
The Galaxy S21 fared even better in a second Allstate drop test, where the phones were dropped with their backs down, also from a 6-foot-height. In this instance, the Galaxy S21 sustained some scuffs and scratches, but no camera damage.
The cameras on the Galaxy S21 Plus and Galaxy S21 Ultra also emerged unscathed in this test, though both phones suffered other damage. The glass panels on the back of the S21 Plus and S21 Ultra both shattered on impact.
There’s a reason that the Galaxy S21 emerged relatively unscathed from this particular test than its more expensive siblings. Samsung equipped the S21 with a plastic back that’s less likely to shatter the way that glass does. That makes the $799 S21 the most durable of Samsung’s new phones while the S21 Ultra seems to be the most prone to damage — at least based on Allstate’s testing.
Allstate concludes that while camera durability has been improved, the durability on the front of the Galaxy S21 phones is unchanged from previous models. There’s no comparison drawn with the iPhone, but when Allstate tested the iPhone 12 last fall, it called Apple’s latest devices the most durable smartphone it tested.
Regardless of which Galaxy S21 model you get, you’ll want to invest in a case. We’ve got a look at the best Galaxy S21 cases as well the best Galaxy S21 Ultra cases.