iPhone 5S survives a 9,300ft drop
An iPhone 5S has survived falling 9,300ft out of an air plane and was still able to send GPS coordinates to iCloud to identify where it was so its owner could retrieve it iStock

An iPhone 5S has been able to survive a drop of 9,300ft from an aeroplane and was even able to tell iCloud where it was so its owner could retrieve it.

Ben Wilson, the owner of Texas-based Gas Corporation of America was travelling home from Houston to Wichita Falls on Monday 27 July in a Beechcraft Bonanza six-seater plane when pressure change caused a passenger door to open by 3in.

"The pressure popped and a newspaper flew out but I didn't see the phone go. After we got back I looked for it on the floor [of the plane] and in my briefcase but couldn't find it," Wilson told the Wichita Falls Times Record News.

Wilson wondered if he had perhaps left his iPhone in a rental car, so when he got to Kickapoo Airport, his colleague John Kidwell used the Find My iPhone app to search for the iPhone. To their surprise, the iCloud said Wilson's phone was sitting outside Joplin, 50 miles away in the middle of rural Jack County.

Armed with a satellite image of the area and a map, Wilson and Kidwell set out to find the iPhone early on 28 July, but just to be safe, they also used the Lost Mode feature designed by Apple, in case anyone happened to come across the phone before they reached it. The Find My iPhone Lost Mode feature enables users to instantly lock their iPhone and then display a custom message on the lock screen.

Wilson used a stylus to scrawl the word "Reward" and a phone number, which displayed on the smartphone screen, but luckily the phone was still there when they got to it. The duo tracked the iPhone down a ranch road, over a fence and into a pasture, where a friendly donkey then followed them and "pointed out the smartphone" to them, lying under a mesquite tree.

When the iPhone fell out of the plane, it was wrapped in a mophie battery phone case. The handset was fine but the part of the case holding the battery was missing. "It was in one piece, scratched a bit on the corners but it still worked," said Wilson.

This is not the first case of an iPhone surviving a great fall. In 2011, an iPhone 4 survived a 1,000ft drop out of the pocket of a skydiving Jump Master from a US Air Force plane.

In January, Urban Armor Gear strapped an iPhone 6 to a weather balloon and sent it into the outer reaches of Earth's atmosphere, then dropped it back towards Earth. The phone was protected by a rugged case (but no screen protector) by Urban Armor Gear, but it was not in free fall – it had a rig with a parachute, two Go Pro video cameras and a GPS locator attached to it, and the whole rig and iPhone survived the fall intact.