iPhone Passed the Ultimate Drop Test After Falling From a Plane

An iPhone survived a fall of 16,000 feet after it was thrown from the cabin of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 when a door plug blew out mid-flight. The phone was miraculously found in near-perfect working condition. The incident brings a whole new meaning to the term AirDrop. The device was found by local resident Sean Bates by the side of a road in Portland, Ore. According to Bates, the phone was still in airplane mode with 50% battery life. Amazingly, there wasn’t a scratch on the display. Apple devices have been known to survive extraordinary tribulations. In 2021, an iPhone was found at the bottom of a lake in British Columbia, Canada, after having been there for 6 months. Remarkably, it was later able to be turned on. You might be wondering how an iPhone could possibly survive a fall of 16,000 feet. After all, it’s hardly a common occurrence, and not something Apple has designed its phones to come away from unscathed. It all comes down to physics. According to Duncan Watts of the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Oslo, the basic answer is air resistance. After a period of time falling, the iPhone reaches terminal velocity, which means it can’t accelerate any faster due to the effect of air resistance. For an iPhone, terminal velocity is about 30 mph if it’s falling face-down, or around 100 mph if it falls perpendicular to the ground. In reality, it would be tumbling, so we don’t know the exact speed it was going when it hit the ground, but it’s not unreasonable to think it was potentially closer to 30 mph than 100 mph. Of course, landing on a concrete road would have caused much more damage to the phone, but it seems to have been found either on a grass bank or in foliage, which would have cushioned its fall. “If it fell on some damp ground, I could see it having about an inch of cushion,” said Watts. “That’s maybe what plopping down on a chair would feel like. Whatever you do, please don’t try launching your own iPhone out of a plane – it might not end so well."
Alaska Airlines door ripped open