Gadgets for humans

PSA: The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 scratches *really* easily

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is the best phone I’ve ever reviewed. Unfortunately, there is one problem with I didn’t notice until recently:

It scratches really easily.

YouTuber JerryRigEverything puts phones through brutal durability tests, including scratches, bending, and… fire. Though it survived on the whole, the Gorilla Glass 5 panel did not cope very well with the first test.

Pretty much all other flagships on the market – including the S7 pair – use Gorilla Glass 4. They don’t scratch until around a 6 on the Mohs hardness scale – enough to survive having keys in your pocket and most metals.  Here’s a stress test on the S7 Edge, for comparison:

But the Note 7 is the first phone to use Gorilla Glass 5, advertised for its improved shatter resistance. It should withstand 80 percent of falls onto rough surfaces from shoulder height, or ~1.6 m. Unfortunately, it seems that came with a compromise to scratch resistance; it starts to show faint scratches at a level 3 – just a notch above plastic.

You won’t want to keep keys in the same pocket.

This is particularly disappointing compared to something like the ShatterShield screen on the Droid Turbo 2 or Moto Z Force. That display takes deeper gashes at a level 3, but is completely shatter-proof, not just 80 percent. Moreover, the ShatterShield panel comes with a user-replaceable top layer should the scratches become too prominent. On the Note 7 you’re stuck with them.

I noticed a couple of (very small) nicks on my Note 7 after my review, which surprised me given I couldn’t think of any situations where it was in danger. Now I know why. I dropped it into my pocket with my keys by accident a couple of times, but always removed the keys immediately after realizing. Apparently, that wasn’t enough.

I’ll still personally take shatter resistance over scratch resistance, as I’d hate to put a case on a phone this well-designed and ergonomic. But you’ll definitely want a screen-protector.

Published August 18, 2016 — 17:47 UTC