My Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra just failed the drop test

It started when I felt a tiny ridge - an imperfection - on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra's perfect plane of glistening Gorilla Glass.

My finger caught on something I could not see. I absentmindedly ran my finger back and forth over the screen, which was currently displaying my Twitter feed. Did I feel something? Nah...no, wait...there is it.

I stopped reading angry Tweets and started examining the screen as my mind flashed back to two days prior.

Standing in my kitchen, I fumbled with the 6.8-inch Android 12 smartphone, which I'd been using frequently, especially for its stellar photography chops. It slipped from my grasp and clattered to the tiled floor roughly one meter below.

"What was that? Was that your phone?" my wife called from the other room.

I quickly snatched the prone device from the floor. It's nestled in a white-rubber Samsung case, so I wasn't too worried. I looked it over, noticed no breaks, and yelled back, "Yes. It's fine."

"Why do only my phones shatter?" asked my wife.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra broken screen

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

First, I don't drop phones. In nearly 20 years of testing them, I've never broken a review unit. I did once drop a 12.9-inch iPad Pro on a glass end table, shattering the screen, but that was an arguably unwieldy tablet. I don't drop phones...or rather, I didn't.

Now, on the train, running my finger over what I now realized was a crack, I understood what I'd done.

The closer I looked, the more I could see that this fine fissure, which starts at the top of the phone just above and to the right of the selfie camera, and snakes like the Amazon nearly two-thirds of the way down the face of the display to the right edge.

When the phone is on, you can barely notice it, unless a letter falls right underneath the crack and then is split into two slightly displaced halves.

This should not have happened.

With the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, Samsung built, off the original Galaxy Note design base, a brick of a phone. It's a large, solid, rigid, but not unpleasant to hold, 229-gram device that, from the look of it, should be up for a drop or two.

The phone is wrapped in Gorilla Glass Victus+ (which is rated by Corning to handle drops of up to 2 meters). It covers that back and my now damaged 6.8-inch AMOLED screen. Plus, I had it in a case.

This fine fissure, which starts at the top of the phone just above and to the right of the selfie camera, snakes like the Amazon nearly two-thirds of the way down the face of the display to the right edge.

You might wonder why, when I reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, I didn't arrive at this conclusion earlier. The reality is, and I've made no secret about this, I do not do drop tests with review units, devices temporarily handed to me by manufacturers that they have every expectation will be returned to them in reasonably pristine condition.

I am happy to drop them in water, but fumbling them on concrete and knowing that, even if they do not break, their smooth shiny bodies will get some unsightly scuffs, I don't think it's a good idea to do that with the equipment you don't own.

Also, my review process tends to reflect how I would use these products if I owned them. I generally don't drop technology (or really anything).

Still, here I am, confronted with the result of an unplanned drop test and the results are not good.

A three-foot (or 1 meter) drop of the cased smartphone should not have resulted in this crack, though I understand that with any glass-screened device, all you need to do is find the optimal stress point and where the physics are just right to fracture even the toughest screen.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra broken screen

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

At least this is a clean crack and not a shatter - you know, the ones that make the screen unusable and even dangerous to touch (those tiny glass shards). This is a break that, while substantial, you really have to look closely to see it or turn off the screen, which seems to highlight it a bit better.

It's also worth noting that the screen crack in no way affects the performance of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. It's just as fast and fun to use as ever - until my digit skips over that fine, sharp edge. That break also means that the device is no longer sealed against the elements. I would not confidentially drop it in a bucket of water or even use it out in the rain for too long.

I'm disappointed in myself for my clumsiness and, a bit, in the Galaxy S22 Ultra for not being equal to such a short fall.

It's not a great look for this Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, but I caution against assuming that all S22 Ultra's are prone to similar fragility. My guess is that the fall caught the top edge of the phone and that screen-first fall might've had a different result.

On the other hand, get a case on your Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and hold onto it, tight.

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