iPhone Survives 16,000-Foot Drop From Plane That Blew Apart Mid-Air

iPhone Survives 16,000-Foot Drop From Plane That Blew Apart Mid-Air

In recent years, “drop tests” have become a popular way to test the durability of new iPhones and their cases. As you might expect, these “tests” typically involve dropping the item from a pre-established height—whether that’s a bridge, a helicopter, or the roof of the world’s tallest building. Whether these tests are actually a useful barometer of durability or just an excuse to chuck expensive hardware from great heights is a hanging question, but the undeniable point is to see whether the device survives or not.

Well, the ultimate drop test occurred this weekend when an Alaska Airlines flight suffered a malfunction that caused part of its fuselage to rupture. The flight was traveling to California from Portland, Oregon when one section of its hull was suddenly blown out. Thankfully, nobody was seriously injured as a result of the terrifying episode, but a number of carry-on items did get sucked out of the plane while the cabin was depressurizing. Among those items was an iPhone, which subsequently plunged some 16,000 feet and landed on the side of the road, miraculously unharmed.


Alaska Air’s Boeing 737 Max 9 Loses Fuselage Section

We know all of this because of a post made to X over the weekend by a Portland local, Sean Bates. The National Transportation Safety Board recently put out a call for locals to help with the search for plane debris, and Bates says he wanted to help out. Going for a walk, Bates stumbled upon an iPhone on the side of the road, which was apparently undamaged except for a broken-off charger cord still plugged into the device.


In a follow-up TikTok video, Bates explains that, while he was initially skeptical that the phone had actually come from the plane, his skepticism vanished after he managed to take a look at its contents. “It didn’t have a screen lock on it, so I opened it up and it was in Airplane Mode with a travel confirmation and baggage claim for Alaska 1282,” Bates says in the video. He subsequently called the NTSB and turned the device over to the government. ABC News previously confirmed Bates’ story with the NTSB.

In short: I’d really like to know what kind of case that iPhone was packing. I’m currently in the market for a new screen protector, and whatever product can survive a nosedive out of an airplane is going straight to the top of my list.