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Smartphone survives the ultimate drop test from an astonishing 103,000 feet

A Chinese smartphone manufacturer may have gone a little over the top in its attempt to prove how durable its latest device is, by attaching it to a high-altitude balloon and watching it ascend to 31,540 meters — that’s just over 103,000 feet — and then letting it fall. There are drop tests, and then there are drop tests. Amazingly, the phone survived, and was still in a working state on the ground.

Vivo spin-off brand Iqoo had the crazy, headline-attracting idea, and the phone in question is the, um, Iqoo — a gaming phone announced in March of this year. A video of the stunt shows what happened. A helium-filled balloon was used to transport the phone into the sky, where it was attached to its own platform and playing a video during most of the experience (to help assess battery life in extreme conditions). Apart from the dizzying altitude, and the air pressure alterations that brings, it survived -56 degrees Celsius (-68 Fahrenheit) temperatures, very much on the chilly side.

When it reached the target altitude, the phone was released and the fall is shown speeded up in the video. Finding the phone was quite a challenge. It’s not clear where the phone fell — one can assume it was somewhere in China — but the team in charge of recovering the phone had to deploy Mitsubishi Pajero 4x4s and drones to locate the fallen Iqoo phone. When it’s found, the screen shows the camera still recording, just with small areas of damage that may only be to the screen protector.

The video played for a five-and-a-half-hour period, before the Iqoo was switched over remotely to record the Earth below, which was done to demonstrate image quality in harsh conditions. The battery inside the phone has a 4,000mAh capacity, and a massive 44w fast-charging system to brim the cell in just 45 minutes, similar to the monster 50w Super VOOC charger that comes with the Oppo Find X Lamborghini Edition. The battery gives power to a Snapdragon 855 processor, while the screen measures 6.41 inches.

Over the years, there have been a lot of phone drop tests, but this may be the highest. In 2011, tough-phone maker Sonim entered the Guinness World Records book after its XP3300 Force survived a fall from a considerably more modest 25 meters (82 feet). The Honor 8 took the crown in 2016 when it reached 18,421 meters (60,436 feet) also attached to a balloon. It’s not clear if Vivo made an official record-breaking attempt. For some context, Dr. Alan Eustace’s world record for the highest free-fall parachute jump took place at 41,420 meters, or 135,890 feet, and Mount Everest is a mere 8.848 meters (29,029 feet) high.

Like Vivo smartphones in general, the Iqoo phone is not sold in the U.S.

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