It would be a shame--after waiting hours in line and spending $500 to $600 on an iPhone--to lose it to a minor mishap. To see how well Apple's phone can stand up to abuse, we stressed it with increasingly rigorous scratch and drop tests, which we informally conducted in the PC World kitchen, hallway, and back alley.
To see how it did, check out our video.
First, to simulate how it will hold up when parked in a pocket or purse alongside house keys and car keys, we stuffed the iPhone into a plastic bag containing several key chains. We then gave the bag a few good shakes to see if the activity would scratch the iPhone's screen. It didn't.
Then we rubbed keys against the screen with a fair amount of force, to see what might happen if the phone and keys were in your jeans pocket and you leaned against a counter. When the iPhone emerged with its screen just as pristine as when it went in, we tried to gouge the screen with one of the keys. We were very impressed that even this deliberate attempt to scratch the screen completely failed.
Next, we conducted three drop tests, increasing their severity in each round. In each instance we conducted the test several times.
First, we released it from waist height onto a carpeted floor. Then we let it fall from chest height onto a hard linoleum floor. Lastly, we let it slip from our fingers and bounce onto a concrete sidewalk from head height--as if we had been talking on the phone.
The iPhone not only continued to work after each drop test, impressively it still looked good, too. The only obvious damage it suffered was a few gouges along its metal edge from the drops onto concrete. But its glass screen came through without a scratch, despite our best efforts to mar it in repeated tests of both types.
PC World's conclusion: There's no need to coddle this sexy little device.