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In my story this girl was spying and need to destroy a communicator once she sends a message telling what she learned. Apperantly the people she was spying on caught her. Would she have the strength to destroy/shatter it?

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    $\begingroup$ You could find out experimentally. $\endgroup$ – Renan Sep 19 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ Unfortunatly, I don’t have an iPhone to spare. ;) That does work. $\endgroup$ – ItsMeAgain Sep 19 at 18:54
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe not strong enough to shatter, but definitely strong enough to stomp on it with her stiletto heel or with her hobnailed boots. Or throw it into a pot of boiling water. And absolutely certainly strong enough to do a factory reset. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Sep 19 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ What is she trying to prevent by smashing the phone? $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Sep 19 at 19:02
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    $\begingroup$ This seems like a story based question. The Girl needs to destroy the phone and in the story she will (Just like James Bond saves the day and John Wick somehow doesn't die). The facts behind this aren't related to world building either, but our current reality or possibly more physics based (e.g the amount of force required to shatter the internal storage). If you were to change the question to, how could I wipe the internal memory with every day objects, that might be more on topic, but would require a new question so we don't invalidate the answers below. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Sep 20 at 0:27
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Unlikely.

This drop-test video of an iPhone XS shows what happens when you throw the phone onto concrete (at the 5:10 mark). Admittedly, the tester isn't using his full strength, but it's a useful demonstration: not only is the phone not destroyed, it's still usable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ez8x-rV4X0

(It's eventually rendered unusable after several more throws.)

However, your character needs to do more than just make the phone stop working; if she's worried about being followed, she needs the computer inside the phone to be completely destroyed. There are some pretty easy ways of doing that, like using a drill or a microwave, but sheer physical force probably won't do it.

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  • $\begingroup$ I did say that the device was phone like and not an actual phone. If this particular model was weaker and stored its information in a way that allowed it to be destroyed by sheer physical force, would it probably work? $\endgroup$ – ItsMeAgain Sep 19 at 19:19
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    $\begingroup$ Well sure, you could easily design a device that's intended to be destroyed when no longer needed: have the motherboard exposed in such a way that the user could snap it in half. You could even give it some kind of microwave-emitter button that toasts the device instantly. But if what she's using is consumer-grade, it would probably be designed to withstand damage and to have its data still be recoverable.. $\endgroup$ – PlutoThePlanet Sep 19 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ Got it, thanks! $\endgroup$ – ItsMeAgain Sep 19 at 19:26
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If it is a phone, or a phone-like object, throwing it on the ground will likely break the screen, but not the internal electronics.

You'd need to snap it in two pieces, preferably break the printed circuit board, the battery, or the internal power connectors. Hard to do by hand, and potentially hazardous as snapping LiPo batteries in half may result in flames. You could set it on the ground, with one end resting on an object (like a curb) and stomp it. Less risk of burns.

Now... Electronic circuits and printed circuit boards can be washed in water without damage if they are not powered. But if they are powered, water will cause electrolysis which will destroy printed circuit board traces and tiny components in minutes. This isn't spectacular, and doesn't create sparks like in movies, but the device will cease working.

So, if the device is not designed to be waterproof, completely destroying it may be as simple as just throwing it in a river, in a toilet, or just in the sink with water running on it.

If it is designed to be waterproof, then of course it won't work... but if it sits at the bottom at a river, it will be unable to transmit, which may be enough for your plot purposes. Also, readers will understand that water destroys electronic devices.

This won't destroy the flash chip itself though. If you really want to shred the data, the best would be to throw it in a fire or ... blend it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qg1ckCkm8YI

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TL;DR she needs only destroy a part of the phone, not all of it.

I think the essential part she needs to destroy is the data records of her actions, and the way to contact her allies.

In phones of modern times, we can store our data on hard drives or even portable solutions, such as an SD card. Some of today’s modern phones support plugging in external SD cards. If she has her world’s equivalent of an SD card (some small automagically storage device that inserts into the phone) she could easily remove it from the phone and snap it to pieces. As @arp mentioned, simply snapping it may not work, but an SD card is small enough that a few hits with a large stone or heavy object like a fire extinguisher would easily pulverize most of the parts inside. See here for how the flash memory of an SD card works. As long as the memory of the card is destroyed, all the stored data would be irrecoverable. This would destroy all evidence and would be physically doable by even a ten year old.

If she just stores her contact information or app that is used to contact her allies on her SD card, it would prevent the enemies from accessing any data for a while.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm willing to bet that national spy agencies can recover most of the data from a snapped SD card. Certainly commercial services can recover data from failed magnetic hard drives. $\endgroup$ – arp Sep 20 at 3:33
  • $\begingroup$ @arp That’s a good point, but SD cards and their components are small enough that a single good hit with a hammer will smash all the internal circuitry to bits. She can just throw the bits into the wind and they can say goodbye to finding any of the data in a short amount of time. $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Sep 20 at 11:30
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YES

Anyone who says no has never had a toddler throwing a tantrum throw an iPhone. They break every darn time. 15 year old girls can manage a decent fastball (my gf in hs could do 89mph a couple times in a row). It is absolutely plausible for your heroine to break a communicator.

Edit: that does not guarantee that all of the data would be unrecoverable.

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