Apple sets new 16,000-foot iPhone drop test after 737 fuselage fail

Kit sucked out of Alaska Airlines 1282 found on the side of the road

Apple has become the first smartphone manufacturer to pass the three-mile drop test after one of its iPhones was found on the side of a road by volunteers helping to recover debris from Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 over the weekend.

The device, which was reportedly found by X user Sean Bates on Sunday, was undamaged despite a 16,000 foot drop, with the only issue being the end of a charging cable that appears to have been plugged in when the phone was sucked out of the Boeing 737 MAX 9 jet after an emergency exit seal blew out minutes after takeoff. 

According to Bates, who was only out helping because he "wanted an excuse to go on a walk" and responded to the National Transportation Safety Board's call for debris search volunteers, "I found a phone sitting on the side of the road that had apparently fallen 16,000 feet." 

Bates said the device had "no scratches on it," and wasn't locked, either. After opening the phone a travel confirmation and baggage claim ticket for Flight 1282 showed up on the screen. A call to the NTSB revealed it was the second such device to be discovered.

NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy confirmed during a briefing Sunday that two phones from the flight have been found and are being examined for additional clues that might shed light on the incident. The emergency exit plug, which hadn't yet been recovered when the phones were found, was later discovered in a nearby yard. 

Bates' iFind was equipped with a case, though the make and model weren't shared despite multiple requests from respondents. Judging from the pictures there was a fairly study case on the device. 

Then again, it's not the first time an iPhone has fallen out of an airplane and been recovered with minimal damage. A skydiver who lost his iPhone during a 14,000 foot jump last summer found his device in working order. Meanwhile, environmentalist Ernesto Galiotto lost his handset out the window of a small airplane in 2020 and later found it on a beach unharmed. 

We've reached out to see if the iMaker has any closer-to-Earth drop test data but haven't heard back. ®

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