Friday, October 10, 2014 [Tweets] [Favorites]

iPhone Bend Testing

Previously, on Bendgate: Just Avoid Sitting in That Way.

Josh Lowensohn:

Apple’s answer today, both in a statement and now in these testing facilities, is that the iPhone 6 is tough. It’s made with steel / titanium inserts designed to reinforce potential stress points, a special blend of aluminum Apple formulated itself, and ion-strengthened glass. But more important, Apple says, is that the iPhone 6 has been put through hundreds of tests, as well as tested in the pockets of thousands of Apple employees before consumers ever get their hands on it.

[…]

Apple was mum on how much the new iPhones can actually take, something it considers a trade secret. It pointed only to 25 kilograms, the amount of weight Apple puts on top of the iPhone’s screen to test it for the bends. Next to a machine that does this thousands of times is a small set of weights: this isn’t actually the full amount of weight the phone can take Riccio says, just what it can handle while being capable of “bouncing back” to its original form. Even so, there are limits.

[…]

Along with that three-point test, there’s what’s known as a “sit test,” which simulates the stresses iPhones undergo while in pockets. And not just any pockets, either. There’s a test for when people sit on a soft surface, when the iPhone is sat on, as well as what Apple considers the “worst-case scenario,” which is when it goes into the rear pocket of skinny jeans and sits on a hard surface — at an angle.

Consumer Reports (see also the criticisms at Hacker News):

All the phones we tested showed themselves to be pretty tough. The iPhone 6 Plus, the more robust of the new iPhones in our testing, started to deform when we reached 90 pounds of force, and came apart with 110 pounds of force. With those numbers, it slightly outperformed the HTC One (which is largely regarded as a sturdy, solid phone), as well as the smaller iPhone 6, yet underperformed some other smart phones.

John Gruber:

Consumer Reports is the outfit that made Antennagate a thing. If anything, their reputation is such that you’d expect them to fan the flames on this, not extinguish them. They’re saying the iPhone 6 Plus is even more bend-resistant than the regular 6. This should put an end to Bendgate — but it won’t, because in the minds of the deranged, the new iPhones bend like a chocolate bar left out in the sun.

This reminds me a lot of Antennagate. Here, as there, independent tests show that Apple’s new phone performs worse than the previous generation model, as well as some popular models from other companies. Yet people generally conclude that there is no story there. To me, the takeaway from the Consumer Reports test is that the iPhone 5 is almost twice as resistant to deformation as the iPhone 6, withstanding 130 lbs. vs. 70 lbs.

The question I would like answered is: What is Apple’s policy on replacing bent phones that were put in a front pocket but not otherwise mistreated? That should tell us whether they intend the iPhone 6 to be as durable as the previous models that we have all been using. The answer seems to be that you are out of luck.

Update (2014-10-11): Brad W. Allen bent his iPhone in his front pocket and returned it without issue.

Update (2014-10-16): Accidental Tech Podcast has follow-up about iPhones bending and Apple not replacing them.

Update (2015-08-27): Dr. Drang:

Despite these deficiencies, Lew’s basic conclusion holds: the new shell is far stronger than the current one. I wouldn’t trust any of the numbers, but there’s no question that his qualitative result is correct.

Why is the new shell so much stronger? The possibilities are stronger material, better structural geometry, or a combination of both.

[…]

In the video, Lew finesses this unknown by calling the new material “7000 series,” which is certainly true, but it’s not the whole truth. To me, the fact that the aluminum in the new shell doesn’t meet a standard specification is one of the most interesting findings. It suggests that Apple has developed its own proprietary aluminum alloy.

1 Comment

"This reminds me a lot of Antennagate. Here, as there, independent tests show that Appleā€™s new phone performs worse than the previous generation model, as well as some popular models from other companies. Yet people generally conclude that there is no story there."

The Apple PR Wurlitzer is a very powerful machine.

"Minds of the deranged", indeed.

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