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iPhone 12 drop test results are in: Ceramic shield is as tough as it sounds – CNET

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Chris Parker/CNET

Apple has covered its new iPhone 12 with a brand-new type of glass called “ceramic shield”, which it says is the toughest glass ever on a smartphone. Every year Apple makes a similar claim about its glass, but this time may be different because this is no ordinary glass. While it may look and feel exactly like glass, the ceramic shield covering the screens is, as the name suggests, a combination of glass and ceramic (which is harder than most metals). It’s a totally new cover material for the iPhone and it’s unlike anything we’ve ever tested before. 

And testing it is exactly what we did. To find out how this new material holds up to the elements, we put two brand-new iPhone 12s through a few scratch and drop tests. And as it turns out, this new glass is incredibly durable. (This rival says its screen is three times harder than Apple’s ceramic shield.)

iPhone 12: Breaking down the glass

The ceramic shield only covers the front — the screen — of the iPhone 12. The back is covered with the same glass as last year’s iPhone 11, which Apple says is the toughest in the industry. Both types of glass are made by Corning

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The glass on the iPhone 11 (left) curves up, while the glass on iPhone 12 (right) is flush with the frame. 


Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

Aside from the glass, the other factor that may play a role in how well this phone holds up to drops is the design. The glass on the iPhone 12 lies flush with the metal frame rather than curved up like in previous models which left more of the glass exposed. Apple says that design choice alone will make the back and front twice as durable as older models. 

All four models of the iPhone 12 (iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Max) have the same ceramic shield on the screen and the same type of glass on the back. The only difference in materials is the frame. The two Pros have a stainless steel frame, while the Mini and the 12 are aluminum. The performance of the frame may vary depending on the material, but the glass should offer the same type of protection across the board. For our tests we used the regular iPhone 12 in blue and green. 

Scratch 1: It survived the pocket/purse tumble 

For the first test, I put the iPhone 12 in a small makeup bag with some of the common culprits that scratch up our phones: a set of keys, a half dozen quarters and a metallic pen. I shook the bag vigorously for about 30 seconds to simulate what happens after a few weeks of bouncing around in a purse or pocket before inspecting it.

After wiping the phone down with a cloth, I couldn’t find a single scratch on the glass or the frame of the iPhone 12.  

Click on the video below to see the results from the scratch and drop tests. 


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Scratch 2: No scratches on the screen after sliding on tile

Next, I wanted to see how the screen would hold up if it came in contact with a hard surface like a marble table, kitchen counter or bathroom floor. I slid the iPhone 12 back and forth 10 times on a textured ceramic tile, first along the screen, then on the back of the phone. 

The screen had a bid of debris from the tile, but after cleaning it off I struggled to find any visible damage to the glass. Testing the back of the phone was trickier. The raised camera module doesn’t allow the phone to lay flat on its back, so I did a few slides with the phone at an angle. This didn’t damage the glass, but it caused some of the metallic paint on the frame around the bottom camera to rub off. It was barely noticeable and the lenses themselves were still in pristine condition. Then I did it again with the camera module hanging off the edge of the tile. After inspecting the back closely, I finally managed to make out two microscopic scratches, one on the silver Apple logo, and another right below it on the blue glass. Both were thinner than a strand of fine hair and about a quarter of an inch long.

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The two tiny scratches on the back of the iPhone 12 that resulted from sliding it on floor tile. The screen came out flawless. 


Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

Scratch 3: Rubbing it on sandpaper made a mark

Having passed the two scratch tests with flying colors, I decided to conduct one more (extreme) test on this iPhone 12: rubbing with 80-grit sandpaper. This is probably the real-world equivalent of sliding your phone across a driveway or sidewalk, which hopefully won’t happen too often. 

I rubbed the phone back and forth across the sandpaper 10 times on either side, applying light pressure. This time, both sides of the phone were scraped up. The screen had the most damage, with lines running horizontally through the middle of the phone. A few of them were deep enough to feel with my fingernail, but it was still in working condition. The back of the phone has significantly less damage, again because of the protection offered by the raised camera module, but it still had visible scrapes in the center and on the lower edges. The metallic finish on the lens frames had continued to peel off, but the lenses themselves were still scratchless. 

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Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

Scratching the phone compromises the glass and makes it a lot more likely to break during a fall, so my colleague, CNET Managing Producer Chris Parker, used another brand-new iPhone 12 for our drop tests onto the sidewalk. 

Drop 1: 3 feet, screen side down

One of the more common times you might drop your phone is when you’re putting it in and out of your pocket. While dropping a phone from hip height can be harmless, if it lands on the street or sidewalk, you’re likely to end up with a broken screen.

When dropped from hip height, the top of the iPhone 12 hit the ground first, then the bottom. Then it bounced in the air once more before landing flat on the sidewalk, screen side down as intended.  

The aluminum frame had a few dents around the edges of the phone, but nothing serious. 

Drop test 2: 3 feet, back side down 

Next, Chris did the same drop, but this time with the back of the phone facing the ground. 

The iPhone 12 seems to be top heavy: It landed almost in the exact same way as it did before, with the top (where the camera module is) hitting first, then the bottom. Finally it landed back side down on the sidewalk. 

The main difference on this drop was the sound when it landed, a louder thud than before. Sure enough, once we turned it over, we noticed the bottom half of the phone was broken. The edge felt a bit rough to the touch, mainly from the dents on the frame, but there weren’t any shards falling off the back of the phone, and it still felt smooth despite the cracks. 

With the back cracked, we narrowed our drops to the screen only. 

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The second drop from hip height broke the back glass of our iPhone 12. 


Chris Parker/CNET

Drop 3: 6 feet, 6 inches, screen side down

This is about as high as Chris could drop the phone without needing a ladder.

The top left hand corner of the screen, opposite the camera module, hit first, then the right side, then the left until it flipped on its back, landing screen side up. The most noticeable dent was on the top where it hit first and it almost looked like it had caused  a crack in the screen right where it met the metal frame. But after rubbing it off we realized it was just metallic residue from the frame and the glass was still in perfect shape. 

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The aluminum frame on the iPhone 12 absorbed the brunt of the fall from six feet. 


Chris Parker/CNET

Drop 4, 5 and 6: 9 feet drop, screen side down

With the screen still holding strong, we decided to go even higher, using a step ladder to reach nine feet. Again this is not a realistic drop unless you happen to slide your phone off a second floor balcony, but we wanted to see how far we could take it.

At nine feet it became even harder to control the landing. While Chris was aiming to drop it flat on the screen, the iPhone 12 had a mind of its own and landed in almost the exact same way as the previous six-foot drop. With the top right-hand corner of the screen hitting the ground first, then bouncing off the left side and landing screen side up. 

The dent on the top right-hand side of the frame got deeper, but the screen survived yet again. 

We repeated this drop two more times hoping it would at some point land flat on its face, but the weight of the camera made it hard for it to land at that angle, especially at that height. The iPhone 12 finally landed with the screen down on the last drop, but only because it bounced off the side of the porch step. The frame had a few more bumps and bruises, but the screen still looked like new after three back-to-back drops from nine feet. The only way up from there would’ve been to climb up on the roof or rent a scissor lift, which we weren’t exactly prepared to do. 

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The screen of our iPhone 12 survived without a crack after we dropped it on the sidewalk six times.


Chris Parker/CNET

Let’s break it down

Because our tests aren’t scientific, we can’t say for a fact that the screen is stronger than any other phone in the market, but we can definitely say that our iPhone 12 was incredibly tough to crack (and scratch) even on tile and sidewalk.

The back of the iPhone 12, however, doesn’t seem to have the same drop resistance superpower as the screen. And while you may feel comfortable using this phone without a screen protector, we — and Apple — recommend using the iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro with a case, as getting the screen or back replaced without AppleCare Plus coverage costs anywhere from $279 to $549 depending on the repair. 

In a statement to CNET, Apple said, “iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro represent the biggest jump in durability ever on iPhone … iPhone 12 models have gone through rigorous real-world testing and are designed to be durable, but not indestructible. If anyone is concerned about dropping their iPhone and damaging it, we suggest using one of the many beautiful cases available to protect iPhone.” 

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Xiaomi announces the Mi 11 ahead of tipped January launch; to feature the new Snapdragon 888 – Notebookcheck.net

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The Mi 11 will succeed the Mi 10. (Source: Xiaomi)
Xiaomi has now officially announced its next-gen flagship phone, Mi 11. While details of the device remain unknown, the company confirmed that it will be powered by the all-new Snapdragon 888—Qualcomm’s most powerful chipset yet. Launch is rumored for January 2021.

Xiaomi will release the Mi 11 series as the direct successors to the critically acclaimed Mi 10 series. That has been known for a while now but the company officially announced the next-generation flagship phone earlier today.

Following the unveiling of the Snapdragon 888, Qualcomm’s latest flagship mobile chipset, Xiaomi confirmed that it will release the Mi 11 in the near future and that the phone would be among the first to be powered by the new Snapdragon 888. That’s about par, of course, as Xiaomi has strong ties with Qualcomm and usually leads the race for the adoption of new Qualcomm silicon.

It’s unknown when the Mi 11 will be released but word on the grapevine currently leans towards a January launch. It appears most OEMs may launch their new devices around the same window, rather than in February as has been traditional for a while now. 

While there’s no concrete information about the details of the Mi 11 series, reports indicate that the more powerful—and, of course, more expensive—Mi 11 Pro will offer a quad-curved QHD+ AMOLED display. That would be a first for Xiaomi and would be strong evidence of the company’s plans to compete with the Samsung Galaxy S21 series.

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Amazon says 2020 holiday shopping season is its biggest yet – CNET

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Amazon says this holiday season is breaking records. 


Angela Lang/CNET

In a year that’s been anything but ordinary, Amazon on Tuesday said it still managed to have its “biggest holiday season to date,” though the company didn’t share overall numbers to demonstrate just how big it was. 

Amazon said in a blog post that independent businesses selling on the platform are “seeing record demand from customers so far this holiday season in the U.S. and around the world.” These businesses surpassed $4.8 billion in global sales from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, an increase of more than 60% compared with last year, Amazon said.

The e-commerce giant offered a slew of deals for the holiday shopping season, on everything from TVs to streaming devices to smartwatches (and some of the deals are still available). Amazon said a record number of customers have been shopping early and supporting small- and medium-size businesses. Amazon’s new Echo Dot has been a top seller, the company said, as well as its Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote and SharkNinja’s Shark IQ Robot Self-Empty Robotic Vacuum, among other items.

See also: CNET’s 2020 Holiday Gift Guide

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Best 75-inch TV for 2020: TCL, Samsung, LG and Sony compared – CNET

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While a 65-inch TV remains an ever-popular size, if you feel like you’re ready for an upgrade, the most common next step is to check out 75-inch models. It’s a size available in a lot of the best TV series we review at CNET — even those fancy OLED TVs (technically they’re 77 inches, but they’re still included on this list).

If you’re choosing between an excellent 65-inch model or a 75-inch set that performs a bit worse, but has a comparable cost — don’t be afraid to go big! More than a slight increase in color accuracy, image quality, viewing angle or any smart functionality, stepping up in TV screen size is the best use of your money. I’m not advising you to get a 75-inch TV that doesn’t perform well enough to satisfy you, however. That’s where the reviews come in: to help you decide just how much money to spend.

The list below represents the best TVs I’ve reviewed in CNET’s test lab, where I compare them side by side to see which is most worth buying. In 2020, my TV lab is my basement, and as usual, I’ve actually reviewed the 65-inch sizes in the series listed below. That said, the 75-inch versions are basically identical beyond screen size. 

Here are my latest recommendations, which I update as I review new TVs, with the following notes to keep in mind.

David Katzmaier/CNET

No TV I’ve ever tested offers this much picture quality for this little cash. The 2020 TCL 6-Series has even better image quality than its predecessor, thanks to mini-LED tech and well-implemented full-array local dimming that helps it run circles around just about any other TV at this price. It’s also a solid choice for gamers with a new THX mode that combines low input lag and high contrast. As if that’s not enough, the Roku TV operating system is our hands-down favorite.

Read our TCL 6-Series (75R635) review.


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David Katzmaier/CNET

What’s that you say? You just want the best TV in this size class, money no object? Here you go. In my side-by-side tests, the 2020 LG CX is the best TV I’ve ever reviewed, barely beating its 2019 predecessor. OLED TVs don’t come in a 75-inch size, so this 77-inch model is the closest equivalent.

Read our LG OLEDCXP series (OLED77CXPUA) review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Splitting the difference between the two models above in price and picture quality, his TCL features Mini-LED, a technology that isn’t found on any other TV currently available. The result is superb picture quality that outdoes any other LCD-based TV we’ve tested, although it doesn’t quite hit OLED levels. And just like the 6-Series above, it uses the Roku smart TV system.

Read our TCL 8-Series (75Q825) review.

David Katzmaier/CNET

Samsung sells more TVs than anyone and our favorite for 2020 is the Q80T series. Its sleek design stands out compared to the other TVs on this list — although the ultra-thin LG CX OLED is even sleeker — and it also offers excellent image quality, next-gen gaming connectivity and a great smart TV system. The TVs above are superior values but if you want a Samsung anyway, this is a great choice.

Read our Samsung Q80T series (2020) review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Roku is our favorite platform for streaming apps like Netflix, and it’s even better baked into this 75-inch TV. Image quality on this TCL can’t beat any of the models above — its 4K UHD screen resolution and HDR compatibility don’t do anything to help the picture — but it’s perfectly fine for most people, especially at this price.

Read our TCL 4-Series (75S425) review.

Other stuff to know about buying a new TV

I’m pretty sure you’d be happy with any one of the TVs above, but a new smart TV set can be a big investment, so maybe you’re looking for a bit more information. Here’s a quick and dirty list.

  • 2020 has been a strange year and many new TVs are shipping late. A few of the TVs on this list are still 2019 models, but I expect to review more 2020 TVs soon.
  • On the other hand, since TVs are generally a mature technology, the new models may not include major upgrades over the 2019 versions. Most buyers will still be perfectly happy with a 2019 TV, especially since they’re generally cheaper.
  • If you don’t like the built-in smart TV system, you can always add a media streamer for more content. They’re cheap and easy to use, and receive updates more frequently than most smart TVs. See the best media streamers here.
  • Most TVs have built-in speakers with terrible sound quality, so it’s worthwhile to pair your new set with a soundbar or other speaker system. Good ones start at around $100. See the best sound bars here.

Looking for even more info? Here’s everything to know (and more) about buying a new TV in 2020

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