The recent release of the iPhone 14 has brought a host of new features backed by notable hardware updates. And while we’ve already seen most of them being tested, no reviewer has played with a key safety feature so far. Enter the first real-world test of the iPhone 14’s Crash Detection, which involves no less than three impacts that employ a DIY driverless vehicle.
Putting the new asset to the test obviously poses some logistical challenges, as simply placing the phone in a shock-resistant case and dropping it from your hand won’t falsely trigger Crash Detection.
However, this seemed like the perfect thing to test for YouTuber Taras Maksimuk (aka TechRax). That’s because the Ukrainian-born American vlogger’s massive-audience channel heavily relies on torture tests that mostly involve various gadgets, as well as vehicles.
As such, TechRax and his crew whipped up a remote control system for a third-generation Mercury Grand Marquis (as with its more mundane Ford Crown Victoria sibling, these full-size sedans get a lot of abuse), so nobody would have to drive the car for the accident(s).
As Adam Savage once said about a Mythbusters episode involving a car being sandwiched between two trucks, getting the vehicles to line up so the impact can actually take place is trickier than it seems. Nevertheless, while that show used cables to pull/guide the machines, the Grand Marquis had its steering wheel “locked” with the seat belt, while an electric skateboard-based system was used to control the throttle, hence the remote.
However, we don’t need to stress that attempting such stunts is dangerous. The video proves that on its own, with the Mercury appearing to go out of control following the first crash.
The three accidents
On the first of the three attempts, which involved hitting the nose of a torched BMW shell at low speed, with the phone sitting on the dashboard, Crash Detection wasn’t triggered. And, given that the shenanigan only resulted in minor front-end damage for the Mercury, this seems only natural.
However, the second time around, the Grand Marquis was driven into a bit of a roadblock, hitting an upside-down van, albeit still at low speed. This time around, the iPhone, which had been taped to the back of the driver’s headrest, activated Crash Detection, starting the 10-second countdown for calling the emergency responders.
On the third run, the crew put more of the car’s 4.6L V8’s force to work. The conditions of the previous accident were replicated, but at a higher speed, which led to the frontal airbags being deployed and caused some more serious damage to the car. With the phone still behind the driver’s headrest, Crash Detection was once again triggered.
Why the iPhone avoided a false alarm and showed a delay
Now, as for the delay, the YouTuber noticed on both activations of the feature, this is normal, as per Apple’s description.
“When your iPhone detects a severe car crash, it will display an alert and will automatically initiate an emergency phone call after 20 seconds unless you cancel. If you are unresponsive, your iPhone will play an audio message for emergency services, which informs them that you’ve been in a severe crash and gives them your latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates with an approximate search radius,” the official description reads.
Please note that while TechRax used the iPhone 14 Pro version, Crash Detection is standard across the range.
As for why the phone didn’t respond to the light impact of the first attempt, YouTuber Marques Brownlee (aka MKBHD), who called the Ford F-150 Lighting the iPhone of trucks, lays it all out in the second video below. For the record, this is the most popular iPhone 14 review at the time of press. And with the vlogger even mentioning leaving the Crash Detection testing to other YouTubers (2:16 timestamp), people have even put TechRax’s name in the comments, so the community saw this one coming.
And the said no-false-alarm behavior has to do with the multiple ways in which the phone analyzed the situation. As such, it doesn’t simply rely on the upgraded accelerometer and gyroscope, but also reads the speed change via GPS, uses the microphone to capture the loud noises of a crash, as well as the barometer for detecting any sudden pressure change like the one coming from an airbag deploying.
All in all, the phone passed the test with flying colors. And here’s to hoping that the sheer discussion about this feature will raise driving safety awareness.