Dropped phones land on their screens & cats on their feet, now science has the answer

Shattered phone screens aren't new to anyone who owns a smartphone. Whether it’s the display or the rear glass panel, every phone user boasts a share of the spoils. But why is it so that the phone has to land on its face when you let slip no matter how you hold it? Don't worry, it’s not your fault. In fact it never was. It’s just a freak of science.

Robert Matthews, physicist and visiting professor at Aston University, can prove why it is so. He says that the way a smartphone falls is governed by the same laws of science that causes toast to land butter side down. He has even developed an equation to prove the phenomenon.

Your Xperia Z5 Premium won’t run its 4K display all the time


According to him, we usually hold our handsets loosely with our fingers below the centre of gravity. This causes the handsets to drop off or pivot about our fingers. But once we lose them completely, they follow a trajectory that's dictated by the forces of science on them. Such a trajectory allows them to fall face down, thus shattering or cracking up their displays. The following formula explains the trajectory:


L = length of the smartphone
g = acceleration due to gravity
p = 2δ/L = “overhang parameter”
δ = overhang distance
θ = angle of the smartphone when it starts its descent.

“People might think it’s just their bad luck when a fumbled phone lands screen-down and smashes. In fact, physics is to blame, making screen-down landings more likely. It seems we’re all at risk of experiencing this manifestation of Murphy’s Law*: “If something can go wrong, chances are it will”.  People who are naturally clumsy and often fumble their phones are clearly particularly at risk,” says Professor Matthews.

Smartphone screens that last a week? Very soon, say scientists

Since there's no way we can contradict science, the only other way out is to develop such screens that just won't crack no matter how strong the impact is. Motorola has led the way with its new Moto X Force smartphone.

Motorola Moto X Force

Moto X Force wields a 5.4-inch Moto ShatterShield display which is basically a Quad HD display shielded by five layers that can absorb shocks and heavy impacts. The presence of two touchscreen layers also ensures that you can continue using the touchscreen even if the outer layer cracks.

Motorola's Moto X Force dares gravity with new shatterproof display

Thanks to the ShatterShield technology, Motorola is even offering a four-year warranty against any damage to the display. We wonder if any other phone maker has such confidence on the invincibility of its handset displays.

Leave a Comment