Wednesday, September 24, 2014 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Just Avoid Sitting in That Way

It’s hard to know how serious a problem this is. Is there really a difference compared with the 5s? How much of it is due to user error: applying unreasonable forces to the phone and not using common sense in how and wear to store it? I never would have been comfortable putting an iPhone in my back pocket, but millions of people have done this for years, so they expect it to keep working. How much of the problem is Apple not designing and testing the phone to stand up to the ways they know people will try to use it? Would a slightly thicker design have prevented these problems? I have seen some reports saying that similar-sized Android phones are less susceptible, but no one seems to have measured yet.

Russell Holly:

You aren’t holding it wrong this time, but there’s a good chance your pocket might be doing terrible things to your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. Owners of these new gadgets are reporting serious warping issues after the phones have done little more than sit inside a pair of pants.

Mark Gurman:

According to reports, the iPhone 6 is slightly bending beyond repair while in pockets. Some users say that the bending occurred after normal sitting, while other people have had more active lifestyles. Unfortunately, it does not appear that Apple will replace these more fragile-than-expected units at no cost. Some users are reporting that replacement costs are in the hundreds of dollars range.

Kelly Hodgkins:

As highlighted in a few reports shared in the MacRumors forums, a small but growing number of iPhone 6 Plus owners have reportedly bent their phones after carrying the devices in their pockets just days after launch. In one instance, a new iPhone 6 Plus was bent during a day of dancing, dining, and driving to a wedding.

Andrew Cunningham:

It’s worth noting that many phones, including the older iPhone 5 and 5S, have been known to bend occasionally—Cult of Mac has a nice roundup with plenty of examples. The question at this point is whether these reports of bending and warping iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus units are isolated incidents or if, like the iPhone 4’s antenna problems, the issue is endemic to the new design.

Caitlin McGarry:

The common cause seems to be sitting for hours on end with the phone in your pocket.

Dr. Drang:

Today’s controversy is about the (permanent) bending of some iPhone 6 Pluses. Given that the iPhone 5 and 5S could both bend, it shouldn’t be surprising that the longer and thinner iPhone 6 and 6 Plus would bend, too. Apart from the geometric factors, the property that’s most important in determining the load at which the phone starts to take on a permanent bend is the yield strength of the aluminum frame. The yield strength is the highest stress for which a material will spring back to its original shape when the stress is removed. It is the boundary between elastic and plastic behavior, and is almost always one of the strengths that govern the design of metal structures.

As of today, if you do a Google image search on “iphone bend,” the results will be dominated by photos of the 5 and 5S. I assume that’ll change over the next few days.

Dr. Drang:

Plastic bending strength varies with the square of the thickness, all other things being equal. 7% thicker ⇒ 14% stronger. Still…

… I doubt that’s the reason for more bent phones. More likely that the loads are higher because the phone rides higher, spanning…

… the hip joint as it sits in your front pocket.

John Gruber:

Maybe this is why Samsung makes their big-ass phones out of plastic.

John Gruber:

I cannot believe that this “bent iPhone 6 Plus” thing is becoming a thing.

Update (2014-09-25): Daisuke Wakabayashi (via Serenity Caldwell):

Since going on sale Friday, Apple said only nine customers have contacted the company about a bent iPhone 6 Plus—the larger and more expensive of its two new iPhones.

Update (2014-10-10): Will Smidlein:

The iPhone 5S that has been in my pocket for the past year next to the iPhone 6 that's been there for the past week.

Jeremy Swearingen (via Accidental Tech Podcast):

I thought the stories were bullshit, but just noticed my iPhone 6 is bent. Never kept in back pocket and never felt tight in front.

Marco Arment:

Reports from a few people: Apple is no longer replacing bent phones, even with no obvious mistreatment, by order from above a few days ago.

Update (2015-08-17): Joe Rossignol:

Nevertheless, it appears that Apple engineers have tweaked the design of the so-called “iPhone 6s” by strengthening the weak points of the smartphone’s rear shell. A new YouTube video shared by Unbox Therapy shows that the areas around the Home and volume buttons on the “iPhone 6s” appear to be notably thicker -- 1.9mm versus 1.14mm -- suggesting that Apple’s next iPhones could be less susceptible to bending under normal usage.

3 Comments

"Since going on sale Friday, Apple said only nine customers have contacted the company about a bent iPhone 6 Plus—the larger and more expensive of its two new iPhones."

Without commenting on the actual merits of Bendgate, worth noting that Apple reporting a ridiculously minuscule number of complaints was their initial PR response to Antennagate.

Relatedly, amazing coincidence that Rob Griffith just happened to witness in person one of the nine.

But then again, after Apple's response to the iCloud breach was to claim it was all social engineering, despite the infosec folks who combed through forums reporting that the absence of rate-limiting on password guesses was the main method used by the hackers all leaves one with the notion that Apple has a major issue with straight-out lying these days.

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