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CES, Reporter Breaks "Unbreakable" Mobile Phone 316

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-has-been-done-cannot-be-undone dept.
ChiefMonkeyGrinder writes "Reporter Dan Simmons from the BBC's technology show Click managed to break a mobile phone marketed as 'unbreakable' (video), during a demonstration at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas." The phone can survive a 10 story fall, being submerged 20 feet for 30 mins, and you can use it to hammer a nail; but it's no match for a British journalist.

*

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CES, Reporter Breaks "Unbreakable" Mobile Phone

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  • by ATestR (1060586) on Monday January 11, 2010 @12:06PM (#30724750) Homepage

    You can destroy anything if you apply the right force. Making a bald statement that a phone (or anything else) is unbreakable will just prompt some folks to find the right force, even if it isn't something the phone would normally experience.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nightwraith (180411)

      While I agree with you generally, don't you think that bashing the screen with something sharp/pointy is a fairly common occurrence with non-flip phones?

      Keys, countertops, railings and curbs all come to mind...

    • Something very similar is how I broke my phone. it hit really hard on the edge of a desk or something when it was in my pocket. The screen was even protected by a SD to CF converter, just happened to be between the screen and what ever it hit. The SD to CF converter was trashed and so was the screen on my phone. My phone was not unbreakable.
      • by TheLink (130905)
        If the phone is cheap enough, as long as I can recover (and quickly+easily backup) data in the phone (SIM, messages, contacts, etc), I don't care so much if it breaks after a truck rolls over it, or a BBC reporter is unleashed on it.

        You could then buy two phones, and have one as a spare. I think it'll work out cheaper that way than buying a special ruggedized phone.
    • by sznupi (719324)

      It is nice though to have something sturdy. Something you don't have to care about at all. If only most rugged phones weren't hideously ugly or with very poor UI & functionality...

      Though luckily there are compromises like Nokia 3720 classic; both quite rugged and rather stylish
      http://conversations.nokia.com/2009/07/09/nokia-3720-classic-rugged-phone-video-montage-and-hands-on/ [nokia.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chris Burke (6130)

      You can destroy anything if you apply the right force.

      Of course. Even the forces binding the proton together are not so strong that one can't be blasted apart in a particle accelerator. Even the mythical and ludicrously strong material the Ringworld was made from had to succumb to this rule. It is in some ways trivial to take "unbreakable" in a way that it equals "non-existant".

      I think it's more useful to define "unbreakable" to mean "within reason", and go from there. For a phone, being able to use i

      • by brian0918 (638904)

        It is in some ways trivial to take "unbreakable" in a way that it equals "non-existant".

        The speed of light is unbreakable! :P

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by toriver (11308)

          A tachyon wants a word with you. Keep in mind it talks backwards though.

    • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@@@slashdot...org> on Monday January 11, 2010 @12:38PM (#30725306)

      Exactly. Nothing is unbreakable!

      That’s why my walls and my clothes are made out of nothing.

      But I plan to sell nothing, so others have nothing too, and so have to pay taxes for nothing.
      I only hope nobody steals nothing for me, because how will I sue him then?

    • I wager a 100 ton hydraulic press would make short work of it.

    • by l0b0 (803611)

      "No PR is bad PR." Look at all the free PR they got now, because smart-asses (got karma to burn) want to point out the blindingly obvious. I'd say it's a genius statement, if it wasn't so sad that we've fallen for this trick over and over again.

      Also, consider the blank stares if they'd said "This phone can take up to X Nm before breaking!".

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tg123 (1409503)

      You can destroy anything if you apply the right force. Making a bald statement that a phone (or anything else) is unbreakable will just prompt some folks to find the right force, even if it isn't something the phone would normally experience.

      How true.

      Did you notice that he hit the screen against the corner of the tank?

      Now if I remember correctly from high school a force applied to a small surface area means high pressure.

      http://www.school-for-champions.com/SCIENCE/pressure.htm [school-for-champions.com]

      Great to see this in practice. ;-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by freedumb2000 (966222)
      I agree, that's one hairy mess.
    • If they think it's unbreakable, all we have to do is find a four year old boy who will be happy to prove them wrong.

  • Whoops! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Nightwraith (180411)

    Uh...

    Is this live? We can edit that out right?

    Ok, reset. Ready? Take TWO!

  • by R2.0 (532027) on Monday January 11, 2010 @12:08PM (#30724782)

    Where's the "titanic" tag?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Where's the "titanic" tag?

      Somewhere in the North Atlantic?

  • Seriously? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jlp2097 (223651)

    Seriously? A story about breaking a phone which surprisingly is not unbreakable? If it's a slow news day at least put it in idle!

    Meh.

  • Spoiler: (Score:5, Informative)

    by bcmm (768152) on Monday January 11, 2010 @12:09PM (#30724822)
    He just smashes the screen against the corner of the fish tank that he just failed to drown it in. Not being covered in rubber like the rest of the phone, it breaks like any normal screen. You could probably apply the same pressure by accidentally dropping it on a jagged rock.
    • Re:Spoiler: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sockatume (732728) on Monday January 11, 2010 @12:12PM (#30724892)

      To be fair, it takes him a few solid whallops before it does break, and the rep doesn't look the least bit concerned until it actually snaps.

      • the rep doesn't look the least bit concerned until it actually snaps.

        That's because the "rep" in the video is the CEO of the company. What I'd like to see is the rant that was edited out (you can tell pretty easily that there's an edit at 1:09). I'm betting you saw the CEO's face turn a few shades of red and that a few employees were packing up their desks.

      • To be fair, it takes him a few solid whallops before it does break, and the rep doesn't look the least bit concerned until it actually snaps.

        To be fair, they have a good laugh about it after it breaks, too. The company rep doesn't act embarrassed, and has good humor about it.

        I think if I needed a rugged phone I'd probably consider one from this company anyway, it's certainly a more durable phone than a regular phone. Obviously not "indestructible" but it'd handle being in my pocket.

    • by Ksevio (865461)
      It's a bit funny just how fast he breaks it. The CEO seems a bit surprised how the guy whacks at it for a few seconds and breaks it that easily.
      • by radtea (464814)

        It's a bit funny just how fast he breaks it.

        Sounds like a case of developers testing their own code, or in this case engineers testing their own product. There is a strong tendency to create impressive tests for the product's strengths while carefully avoiding the weaknesses.

        You need independent testers who don't feel they've done their job until the product is good and truly borken.

        • And what you didn't see was the CEO signaling the techs something that translates to
          " WHY IN THE NINE RINGS OF HELL did you not test this particular failure mode??? you ring up 10,000 engineers and you get them working on this"

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      He just smashes the screen against the corner of the fish tank that he just failed to drown it in. Not being covered in rubber like the rest of the phone, it breaks like any normal screen. You could probably apply the same pressure by accidentally dropping it on a jagged rock.

      A fairly big oversight when testing for destruction - after all, you want to concentrate on the unarmored areas because they'd be an obvious weak spot. And a huge planar surface like an LCD seems especially prone to breaking from accid

    • I can't believe it took this long for someone to post just exactly what he did. I went to RTFA until i realized it was a video and it started playing a commercial at me. How much effort is it to write "he whacked the screen on a hard object"?
  • yeah (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 11, 2010 @12:10PM (#30724844)

    but is it unblendable?

  • Screens are always the weak point of a phone. I would surprised if any lcd screen can withstand a direct contact with only the screen (generally by corners or pointy objects). Thet have the drop issue solved because they assume the casing will absorb the shock on a flat surface.

    Working for a phone manufacturer it took us month of back and forth with the LCD manufacturer and reinforcing plastic to make our phone's LCD not break from a 1.5 meter drop. So 10 stories is impressive!

  • Always the screen (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ambiguous Coward (205751) on Monday January 11, 2010 @12:12PM (#30724888) Homepage

    The key to breakage here being that when they said "You can hammer a nail with it!" they didn't mean, "You can hammer a nail with the screen"

    Screens will always be the weak point until we get that transparent aluminum out there to shield it while keeping it visible. And even then, you know, that little display would still be susceptible to heat. I have a hunch a lighter would have had similar success in destroying the screen.

    • Actually... (Score:3, Informative)

      by denzacar (181829)

      From TFV... the screen still worked - it is just that he apparently cracked it.
      Not that you could actually tell from the video.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Ah, well, when the CEO-chap said "You've broken the screen" I assumed that meant he'd broken the screen. ;)

        And lots of things still work after being broken. Screens like that are one of them. It's just that as the breakage increases, the usability decreases. I'm sure that if he managed to crack it by hitting it on the corner of a fish tank, he could continue to break it further by continuing his previous actions. In the long run, the screen would break to the point of non-usability.

        I have a friend with an o

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by horza (87255)

          If you can still access your information on the phone, and it can still make and receive calls, then it's not broken. Just damaged.

          Phillip.

    • by swillden (191260)

      Screens will always be the weak point until we get that transparent aluminum out there

      You mean like this transparent aluminum [wikipedia.org] (oxide)?

      • by Shatrat (855151)
        Synthetic corundum (which a ruby is) is already used in high end watches and it's scratch proof but even more brittle than glass.
        If you want durable you need plastic. It scratches easily but a thick layer of it really is pretty unbreakable. The scratches can be polished out of an acrylic but you can't polish a crack out of corundum.
  • by King_TJ (85913) on Monday January 11, 2010 @12:20PM (#30725014) Journal

    Our Nextel rep tried to sell us on some of their rubber-encased, bulky "ruggedized" phones last year, bragging about how they met U.S. military specifications and so on. We tried out a few, and one of the maintenance guys out in the shop managed to break the "push to talk" button on his the first day he had it. A couple others developed keypad failures in a matter of months.

    The fact is, the cellphone makers come up with these claims based on very specific types of "accidents", such as the phone's ability to survive submerging in water to a certain depth, or surviving a drop from X number of feet. In the real world, people find MANY other ways to break these devices that weren't even investigated. (The guys in our shop do a lot of grinding and cutting of steel, for example. Eventually, the little metal filings find their way into the cellphone's speaker, where the magnet in the speaker causes them to collect up - until they make a big enough pile to short things out. When disassembling "dead" phones, we've found that a number of times. But I haven't seen a single cellphone maker take any steps in their design to prevent THAT mode of failure.

    • by fredjh (1602699)

      Like you said... the guy broke the "push to talk button." The rubberized casing would prevent the keys from getting pushed on a fall to a flat surface, but I'm sure pretty much ANY of these phones will break simply by pushing buttons too hard.

      And if that fails, smash the screen against the corner of a fish tank.

    • by Xtravar (725372)

      Here at work, we've gotten free devices with kevlar-coated screens on occasion for software development. One of our developers accidentally split the device's case in half from a 3 foot drop when they're supposed to have a 6 foot drop spec. :)

  • The Shrike broke it. Reporter Dan Simmons included that scene in the next Hyperion book.
  • by ewenix (702589) on Monday January 11, 2010 @12:32PM (#30725208) Journal
    That is the most blatant false advertising since my lawsuit against the movie, The Neverending Story.
    • by TempeTerra (83076)

      To be fair, originally The Neverending Story was neverending, but they still haven't heard back from the focus groups and the investors got impatient.

  • This was worthy of a front page post? I saw that video earlier, thought "heh" and moved on with my day. Is there really anything more to discuss here?
  • Instead of being shocked or dismayed, he actually laughs at it. That is, to me, the best possible way he could react. The only thing that could have made it better, would have been if he had said something like "well, you've just earned yourself a new phone".

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Or "We're always looking for good testers; if you will want a new job - you know where to find us"

  • Obviously rather than dipping the phone in water, it was put into a solution of sodium pentothal, and the phone barked "Enough of this torture, I'll give you the contacts list". And thus the phone was "broken."

  • Just say that it is tough not unbreakable

  • Epic fail... though I have to say the rep did do a good job showing humility. Good PR in the end.

  • This reporter (an alien no less) is interfering with a cell phone company's ability to profit from its invention.

    Call Homeland Security!

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Monday January 11, 2010 @01:15PM (#30725834)

    An acquaintance of mine who suspected that he was being BSed by a sales person asked if his project had passed the Bal Conies test.

    "Yes, it certainly has," he replied.

    "Really!" he said. "Let's see." He then took the device in question and dropped it off the Bal Cony.

    Sadly, the device in question did *not* pass the Bal Conies test.

  • by 3.1415926535898 (969600) on Monday January 11, 2010 @01:49PM (#30726240)
    Volume on the BBC Video player still "goes to eleven."

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