If you consider yourself clumsy, you’ll likely have suffered the pain of dropping your phone face down, to reveal the dreaded shattered screen. You’re in good company because every two seconds a smartphone screen shatters somewhere around the globe. But what’s worse, according to a recent research by Motorola, is that one in three users (29 per cent) in the UK is currently using a device with a cracked or shattered screen.
Most of us consider a cracked screen to be pure bad luck; however science suggests that phones are prone to landing screen side down, which is more likely to damage the screen. As with the laws of physics causing toast to land butter side down, a similar phenomenon can be applied to your handset. A theory developed by physicist and Aston University visiting professor, Robert Matthews, explains why it’s not just down to bad luck.
How physics leads to an increase in probability of screen-down landings
Professor Matthews notes that smartphones are often held loosely in one hand, with the user’s fingers below the phone’s centre of gravity. This makes the phone both more at risk of being dropped, and more likely to pivot about the fingers. Once the phone leaves the hand, it spins at a rate dictated by the various forces acting on the phone (see diagram):
By solving the equations describing these forces, the rate at which the smartphone spins as it falls towards the ground can be estimated using the formula:
L is the length of the smartphone, g is the acceleration due to gravity, p = 2δ/L is the “overhang parameter”, δ is the overhang distance, and θ is the angle of the smartphone when it starts its descent.
Applied to smartphones, the formula shows that because they are so sleek and smooth, they’re unlikely to break contact with the fingers before they’ve achieved a high enough spin-rate to attain a safe, screen-up landing. That’s why being clumsy with a smartphone so often results in screen-down landings, reducing the chances of leaving your screen intact.
Professor Robert Matthews commented: “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”.
Motorola has the answer
To combat the laws of physics and reduce these shattering moments, Motorola has introduced the world’s first ‘clumsy-proof’ phone, featuring Moto ShatterShield technology, so even the most accident prone amongst us can avoid the embarrassment of living with a shattered screen. The Moto X Force display is made of an integrated system of five layers that absorb shock from impact and are guaranteed not to shatter.