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WATCH: Samsung Galaxy Tablet Beats Apple iPad in Durability Tests

Dan Tynan
Yahoo Tech
broken ipad

A broken tablet. (iStock)

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. It’s true of trees, boxers, and multinational corporations. It’s apparently also true of tablets.

Today SquareTrade, the smartphone and tablet protection plan specialist, released the results of its latest gadget endurance tests. Ten tablets from leading manufacturers were dropped, submerged, sent skidding across a conference table, and rated for overall design and durability.

Read: WATCH: Which Smartphone Is Tougher? Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Apple iPhone 5s

The results? The toughest tablet of all does not carry an Apple logo on the back (sorry, iPad fans). It’s Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S 8.4, which passed both the drop and water-resistance tests with flying colors, followed closely by the bargain-priced MeMO Pad 7 from Taiwanese manufacturer ASUS.

The most fragile tabs: Microsoft’s astronomically priced Surface Pro 3 and a super-cheap 9-incher from TMAX Digital

Chart comparing durability of tablets


The lower the overall score, the tougher the tablet. Smaller tablets have an advantage in SquareTrade’s design scores, because they’re easier to hold and thus less likely to suffer a tumble onto the floor or into a toilet. But they also survived the torture tests better than their bulkier cousins, making them more able to withstand a single drop of 4 feet as well as being dunked for 10 seconds in 3 inches of water.

The reason? Simple physics, says Jessica Hoffman, head of communications for SquareTrade.

“Overall, the larger tablets have more square inches of glass to break, and their weight means gravity takes a larger toll when they do drop,” she says.

Achy-breaky tabs
SquareTrade broke out its test results by price and size, starting with the bargain-priced ASUS MeMO Pad 7 ($150) and the obscure but even cheaper TMAX HD 9 ($100).

Despite its low cost, the ASUS MeMO Pad is surprisingly rugged, garnering the second-best score overall in the tests. The TMAX? Not so much. It literally split into two pieces when it encountered the floor and died two seconds after hitting the water.

Small and scrappy
Next SquareTrade tested small and midsized tablets from heavy hitters Apple, Google, Samsung, and Sony.

Two of the smaller tabs — the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and the Sony Xperia Z3 — survived the gravity and immersion tests without a scratch. The Apple iPad mini 3 also survived but sustained some minor cosmetic damage when dropped, and temporarily lost audio after being dunked.

The bigger tabs fared less well. The 9-inch Google Nexus survived the drop test with a few scratches but began acting erratically after going for a swim. The iPad Air 2 and Samsung Tab 10.5 took to the water like ducks but shattered when they encountered the unforgiving cement floor of SquareTrade’s test labs. 

Busted budget busters
In the mondo tablet category, SquareTrade pitted Microsoft’s 12-inch Surface Pro 3 against Samsung’s similarly plus-sized Note Pro 12.2. The results weren’t pretty.

The Samsung tab survived the drop test just as well as the smaller Galaxy S 8.4, but when it came time for a swim, the Note Pro drowned.

When the Microsoft Surface Pro hit the ground, the screen shattered — the last thing you want to see happen to something that just cost you $800 to $1,500. After being submersed, the Pro also suffered a critical system failure.

SquareTrade says it selected these tablets for testing based on their popularity across the 18 U.S. and European countries it serves. You say your favorite isn’t among them? Take it up with them.

Email Dan Tynan at ModFamily1@yahoo.com.