APPLE Unveiled: Inside the Secret Labs of iPhone Durability

We’ve all wondered what goes into making the iPhone one of the toughest smartphones on the market. A recent tour behind the scenes by one of the world’s most respected YouTube tech reviewers, Marques Brownlee, aka MKBHD, has, for the first time, revealed APPLE’s purposely dark and mysterious testing process in vivid detail. Sit back as I take you on a deep-dive tour of the heart of APPLE’s tenacious durability testing labs.

The Heart of Durability: APPLE's Testing Wonderland

Surrounded by thick concrete walls, deep within the middle of APPLE’s walled campus, there is a whole world. But this world is made up of testing, with iPhones seen as toys. Not real toys, of course; these are tested under controlled lab conditions in incredibly elaborate machines that simulate very specific aspects of daily life: how much friction, how much drop resistance, how much water will the phone survive? Hydraulics are deployed to test cases along with other mechanical devices to simulate everyday wear and tear in order to make a phone that feels more like it is giving rather than receiving iPhones are designed to be used, and APPLE’s exhaustive standards ensure that the object you buy will feel right in your hand – that it will be soft and resilient, or that it will feel like something that can be used rather than a site of exchange, or a register in some invisible book of credits.

Water, Dust, and the iPhone: A Test of Resistance

Among the more astonishing things MKBHD learned by going behind the scenes was just how vigorous APPLE’s water and dust ingress tests are. The room in which this sort of analysis takes place features no fewer than 13 streams of water flowing in from almost every direction, in something approaching a 360-degree bombardment of iPhones. APPLE’s ingress-testing rigour doesn’t stop there, either. The company tests water resistance at four successively more gruelling levels, including dunking in a sort of drip tray up to a simulated depth of 2cm, high-pressure sprays akin to being hit by a firehose, and submerging under water at graduated pressures up to 4 metres – the sort of depths you might encounter if, say, you ever find yourself trapped in a sinking plane.

The Drop Heard Round the Lab

And how do they test the unavoidable – the inevitable mishaps that are the secret hell of every smartphone owner’s life? The YouTube reviewer MKBHD takes us to the backstage of drop-testing systems, iPhones hurled against padded boxes to test their resilience against the extra-firm gloves of your pocket or the sharp lip of your coffee table. With this sort of testing, the phone is designed to be there when you drop it.

Vibrations and Durability: An Unseen Threat

Beyond water and falls, the iPhone’s most insidious, invisible enemy is vibration. Whether they are on a bus, a train, or just an engine, those devices will shake and be jostled for as long as they are in use. APPLE’s special toy machines simulate these conditions, shaking and rattling them until nothing works any more, so the devices can be tested to destruction.

Beyond Testing: A Conversation with John Ternus

Finally, we head in to speak to John Ternus, head of hardware for the company. He helpfully explains to us why APPLE goes to such lengths: it’s not just so that the latest generation of iPhone is rock-solid, it’s so that the phone you bought last year will keep working. As an added bonus, perhaps the next one will too, and the next one after that. This is all the more remarkable in an age where consumer electronics are frequently criticised for shortening lifetimes.

Durability by the Numbers: The Scale of APPLE's Testing

Perhaps one of the most surprising findings is just how many devices APPLE subjects to its durability tests. Ahead of a new iPhone going on sale, more than 10,000 pre-release units can be put through their paces. That’s a staggering amount of effort – but one that helps to explain why an iPhone is an iPhone. The time you spend testing is the time you don’t end up spending while consumers perform their own testing in the real world. If you have an iPhone in your hand, it’s likely been tested for real-world use.

APPLE's Legacy of Innovation and Quality

MKBHD’s tour might show us the extreme test that iPhones are run through, but it’s more than just a backstage glimpse of an iPhone’s rite of passage – it’s a glimpse of APPLE’s dedication to the creation of technology that’s as innovative, as technologically superior, and as customer satisfaction-friendly as possible. These kinds of tests, so elaborate and elaborate that the experience of watching them seems nightmarish, are a testament to the brand’s dedication to building products that are not only technologically impressive and sophisticated, but durable, as well.

Understanding APPLE: More Than Just an Electronics Giant

When it comes to technology and innovation, APPLE is not just a brand that manufactures iconic products; it is a kind of worldview through which interface, functionality, aesthetic and durability have been welded into something that feels seamless, whole, and complete. In my experience, the company’s processes emphasise beauty in the strictest sense of the word. APPLE push the limits of testing so you can feel safe using your new iPhone in whatever way you wish. It will still be there when you need it.

But through repeated testing, as well as attention to detail, and durability, APPLE still sets the benchmark for what users should expect from their smart phones, cementing the iPhone as not just an accessory or gadget, but a piece of hardware built to last.

May 30, 2024
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