Even though a new feature protects your 5G iPhone 12 better, you'll still need to buy a case
One of the new features that Apple has been promoting heavily for the new 5G iPhone 12 line is the Ceramic Shield. Apple and Corning worked together to develop what Apple calls the "toughest glass in a smartphone." Apple claims that the Ceramic Shield screen is four times harder to crack or scratch than the glass used on last year's models. According to a video released by Canada's MobileReviews-Eh (via MacRumors) the display employed by the iPhone 12 line is indeed tougher than the one found on the iPhone 11 series.
Testing done north of the border by the site revealed that while the iPhone 11 was able to survive a force equal to 352 newtons (a measurement of force, not Apple's failed PDA) while the iPhone 12's front-facing glass made it to 442 newtons. That would mean that the Ceramic Shield could be responsible for making the new iPhone displays 26% "tougher." Certain objects like keys, coins, and even a box cutter were rubbed against the display but were unable to create any scratches.
The Mohl hardness test is often used on smartphone displays to gauge their resistance to scratches and abrasions. Certain materials with a known hardness score are rubbed against the screen to see if it leaves a mark. Using this test, the iPhone 12 scored a 6 with slight scratching seen after the glass was rubbed with a material that scores a 7 on the hardness test. At a hardness level of 8, scratches were more visible. For comparison purposes, the iPhone 11 started to show signs of scratching at level 6.
When the back of the iPhone 12 was scratched, the results showed that the Ceramic Shield is not used on the back of the new phones. This was confirmed by a 10-foot drop test that showed slight damage to the glass to the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro during a face-down drop test. From the same distance, a rear-first drop test cracked the back glass on both units.
Your best bet, as always, is to purchase a case for your new iPhone 12 series handset even though the Ceramic Shield does make the screen tougher. Many cases contain a raised lip around the display that will help protect the glass during certain drops. While most phone owners fear a cracked screen whenever their phones are dropped, there also could be internal damage that you won't see after phone meets pavement. And don't hang your hats on the result of any drop test. Different variables can always produce different results so you should assume that your phone is fragile and needs to be protected.