An iPhone was recently caught in a bizarre situation when it got sucked out of an Alaska Air flight at an astonishing altitude of 16,000 feet. The cause of this plane mishap was a dislodged door plug. Miraculously, the iPhone survived the drastic fall unscathed.
This unusual situation occurred enroute a commercial Alaska Airlines flight. One may question: how could the iPhone beat the odds and withstand such a huge amount of impact force as a result of a fall? One possible explanation lies in the assumption that the terminal velocity reached by the phone during its descent was significantly less than that of a human being.
Terminal velocity is the constant speed a falling object ultimately reaches when the force of air resistance equals that of gravity and thus no more acceleration occurs. In the case of a human, the terminal velocity is around 120 miles per hour. On the other hand, the iPhone, due to its flat and less dense design, might have fluttered down like a leaf, further reducing its terminal velocity and hence, the impact force.
This suggestion is further backed by a study conducted by electronics warranty company Square Trade. The study employs an aerodynamic formula that demonstrates how lightweight electronic devices like smartphones will likely not suffer significant harm even from extreme drops when safety measures such as cases to reduce impact are in place.
Despite the extensive research, a 16,000 foot plummet is significantly larger than what the Square Trade study takes into account. The Arctic cold temperature is another factor that brings a unique twist to this particular incident. Cold temperature could have added to the survivability of the iPhone.
Low temperature results in contraction of material as a fundamental property of most substances. As a result, the metallic and glass components of the iPhone could have contracted a bit, imparting it with a bit more rigidity. This might have aided in its survival against the immense impact.
These survival factors have their roots in the basic laws of physics. The semiconductor components of any electronic device, iPhones included, can endure cold temperatures better. If anything, they perform even better in colder surroundings as the low temperature counters the intrinsic properties of the semiconductors that generate heat.
This particular event is not the first time an iPhone has been reported to survive a long fall. Back in 2015, an iPhone fell from a height of 9,300 feet from a small aircraft in Texas. The phone not only survived but was also fully operational.
That being said, this feat by the iPhone is still considered a rarity in the arena of consumer electronics. Many factors could have contributed to fatal damage to the device, including the harsh weather conditions, sharp objects, and unpredictable fall velocity.
Notably, a Texas man was in similar circumstances when his iPhone was knocked out of his hand while he was on a roller coaster ride. Unfortunately, his phone plunged 450 feet and was completely destroyed.
Another incident in New Zealand saw an iPhone falling from 15,300 feet, nearly similar to the Alaska incident. When found by its owner, the phone was operational, despite being bent out of shape due to the impact.
Despite these inexplicable survivabilities, most people wouldn't want to purposely test the resilience of their phones at such high altitudes. Although cases have shown that the iPhones, if they are unluckily dislodged from pockets or swept away from hands, can survive the drop, such cases are extremely rare.
Most consumer electronics are not designed or tested to survive falls from such heights. Therefore, the situations elaborated in this article are not representative of the capabilities of these devices, but should be considered significant outliers.
The Alaska iPhone incident, and others similar to it, give people a lot to ponder on the durability of these sophisticated gadgets. It once again showcases not only iPhone's stringent quality control measures but also the important role played by intrinsic laws of physics and how these laws can manifest in extraordinary ways during unforeseen incidents.
The phenomenon of surviving a high-altitude fall is quite a wonder, considering the fragile nature of these electronics. It allows scientists and technologists to deeply analyze these occurrences for future improvements in the designs of these devices.
Perhaps, future electronic devices could be designed in a way to withstand similar falls. Consumers would certainly appreciate such a strong and durable gadget that can survive unexpected spills or even stumbles.
In conclusion, the Alaska iPhone incident serves as a fascinating reminder for both scientists and laymen about how the fundamental laws of physics can influence the everyday objects around us even in the most unlikely of scenarios.