Apple iPhone 3G Dies Hard

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Apple's new 3G iPhone doesn't just look good. It's one resilient little bulldog.

We put this faster version of the iPhone, released today in the United States, through dropping, scratching, and dunking tests, and the device performed like a champ. In fact, it wouldn't knuckle under until we ran it over with a motorcycle.

Take a look at our iPhone 3G torture tests.

In PC World's second annual battery of iPhone Stress Tests--also view our famous Original iPhone Stress Test video--our 3G iPhone test unit withstood a serious beating from keys, breakfast cereal, water, dish soap, and the pavement.

Only a renegade videographer on a motorcycle was able to render it fully nonoperational--and even then, its battery kept on ticking. In fact, several hours after these events, its splintered screen was still glowing.

(You can read more of PC World's iPhone coverage here.)

Testing Methodology

As you can see in our 2008 iPhone 3G video, the first test involved placing the iPhone in a plastic bag with two sets of keys and jostling it around like 3G Shake 'N' Bake. This test is designed to simulate the rough life of a cell phone rattling around in a pocket or purse. The iPhone's screen, plastic backing, and ridges emerged relatively pristine from this test.

Next, we turned up the heat a bit, applying pressure to rub the keys on the iPhone's screen and backing. Again, the iPhone looked as good as new after the more rigorous key-scratch test. It wasn't until we removed the plastic bag completely from the equation and took a key to the screen and backing of the phone that we inflicted any discernible damage--and that was only to the foil-like Apple logo on the back of the handset.

Liquids Attack

Froot Loops and milk are also no match for this handset. After we dropped the iPhone into a bowl of delicious, quasi-nutritious cereal--not once, but twice--the phone remained fully operational, even before we toweled it off. And when we washed it in a sink with lukewarm water and generic hand soap, the iPhone came out unscathed and smelling great--no frooty after-odor.

Alas, chinks developed in the 3G iPhone's armor with the onset of our drop tests. The first drop produced a small nick in the beautiful 3.5-inch touch screen (as well as evidence of internal condensation, presumably incurred during the cereal/water tests), along with scuffing and dents on the treated plastic backing.

iPhone 3G Finally Cracks

Subsequent drops chipped away at the screen, producing a spiderweb matrix of cracks by about the fifth drop. The touch screen, iPhone's 480-by-320-pixel trademark visage, no longer responded to human touch. And then came that unfortunate motorcycle event.

2007 PC World iPhone Stress Test Video

Of course, this video takes its inspiration from last year's masterpiece, starring the first version of the iPhone and Senior Associate Editor Eric Butterfield.

In those earlier tests, we were unable to render the iPhone inoperable--but then again, we didn't stoop to (literally) driving it into the ground as we did in today's sequel. The iPhone has gotten tougher--and so have we.

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