Glass is back, baby. And glass is back for backs. Most new high end phones this year—like the iPhone X and Galaxy S9, have glass screens and backs. This could mean expensive repairs, so let’s go back to basics, and look at how to not drop your phone.
Use a Grippy Case
Glass feels wonderful. So silky smooth. So beautiful…whoops, there goes my phone.
Most highend smartphones are slightly too large to be held comfortably in one hand. Some monsters, like the iPhone 8 Plus, are barely comfortable with two. This means that if you don’t have something grippy to hang onto, your phone is always at risk of slipping. A small stumble while you walk, a brief moment of inattention while you take it out of your pocket, or just a second’s lapse in hand-eye coordination and smash.
The good news is there’s a simple way to solve it: with a case.
While it might strike you as sacrilege to hide the clean lines of your new iPhone X in a case, it still looks better than an iPhone X with a cracked screen or back. Unless you handle your phone like Tom Brady handles a football, it’s better in a case.
There are hundreds of different cases available, some good, some awful. We’d recommend thinking about how successfully you’ve hung onto your old phone. I very rarely drop my phone so I feel pretty okay keeping it in a thin case with a small lip above the screen. If you drop your phone more often, put it in something that could survive the nuclear apocalypse.
One thing to note is that a lot of plastic cases aren’t going to be any grippier than glass—in fact, they might be less grippy—but they do offer some protection if you drop your phone. If you want something really grippy that doesn’t offer as much protection, go with a silicon case like this one from Apple.
Use Features like Reachability
A big part of the problem with large phones is that you’re forced to awkwardly reach for the top of the screen, giving you a perfect opportunity to accidentally dash it to the ground.
Apple, at least, has thought about this and added a feature named Reachability. Two light taps on the Home Button on an iPhone 8 or earlier and the whole contents of the screen moves down into easy reach. On the iPhone X, it isn’t enabled by default but you can enable it by going to Settings > General > Accessibility. With that done, a slight swipe down on the gesture area at the bottom of the iPhone X screen triggers it.
Google, unfortunately, hasn’t added any Reachability-like features into Android, but some manufacturers like Samsung have rolled their own. Either three quick taps on the Home button or a diagonal swipe up from the bottom right corner causes the screen to shrink, making it easier for you to reach things.
Don’t Use Your Phone One Handed At All
It’s much easier for your phone to fall out of one hand than two, even with features like Reachability. It can be tempting when you’re carrying something like a coffee in your other hand to whip out your phone to check your notifications or change the song, but it’s a bad idea. You’re just tempting fate.
Unless you’ve a good reason to do it, resist your screen addiction and wait until you can actually use two hands with your phone. The people I know who drop their phones most, are the ones who can’t leave a notification unattended for a few minutes.
Buy a Good Strap If You Exercise
Every so often, I get the stupid idea to take up running again. I hate running with a passion; it bores me to tears. The only way I can drum up any motivation to spend an hour alone in my own head is to queue up a load of music, podcasts, or audiobooks to listen to while (slowly) pounding the pavement. The thing is, the jostling shuffle of a jog, is absolutely perfect for working your phone loose from wherever you’ve put it.
If you’re going to do any exercise and want to keep your phone safe, invest in a good arm strap or waistband that fits your body and your phone (even when it’s in its case). It’s better to spend an extra $20 on a good strap, than have to run the last few miles with no music and a smashed phone.
Be Honest With Yourself
I’m not a clumsy person. I’ve broken a single screen (on my iPhone 3GS) in my decade of owning iPhones. I know this, so I feel pretty okay bringing my phone with me on nights out. It almost always comes back in better condition than me.
On the other hand, I’ve got a friend who, in the past year, has gone through two phones, an iPad, and a laptop. I honestly hope she never has a kid, because I’m pretty sure she’d drop it on day one. Let’s call her Mel, mainly because her name is Mel.
If you’re more Mel than me, then you need to accept that at some point, you probably will smash your phone. The problem is that if you’ve got a new high end phone, there are two sides to smash. This means you need to take some steps to cover your ass for when it does happen.
If you have an iPhone, you should probably buy AppleCare+. For an upfront fee, you get steeply discounted repair jobs. Rather than it costing you $549 if you smash the back of your iPhone X, it will only cost you $99. A screen fix will be a totally reasonable $29. Granted, you’re paying $199 up front, but just consider that a clumsy tax.
If you have an Android phone, things are a lot more complicated. There’s no simple one stop shop. Instead, you should look for an insurance policy that covers accidental damage, since it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to argue that the screen got cracked because of a manufacturing defect rather than your butter fingers. Something to avoid, though, is extended warranties; these are almost always overpriced.
One thing you can do regardless of what phone you use, is to keep a second phone about for big nights out or other times you’re more at risk of dropping your precious smartphone. This way, at least if you drop your phone, you aren’t dropping your good phone.
“Just don’t drop your phone” is pretty simple advice to give, but it’s not realistic for most people. Instead, you need to take a few more proactive steps like using a case, maybe being a little more careful, and in the worst case, forking out for AppleCare+ or an insurance plan.
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