iPhone 6 bending reports 'overblown' says test firm
As #bendgate rumbles on, tests suggest that the iPhone 6 is harder to bend than some of its rivals
Independent tests carried out by an American consumer organisation suggest that reports of the iPhone 6 bending in users' pockets have been overplayed.
Consumer Reports subjected Apples new phones – both the iPhone 6 and larger iPhone 6 Plus – to a controlled stress test, and compared the results with those achieved by three of its rivals: the HTC One (M8), Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and LG G3.
"To stress test these phones, we used what’s called a 'three-point flexural test,' in which the phone is supported at two points on either end, then force is applied at a third point on the top."
Each force was applied for 30 seconds, and the handset was then expected for signs of bending. The tests continued until the screen separated from the rest of the frame.
All of the phones on test were undamaged by the 27kg force. That's slightly more than the force required to break three pencils held together, according to Consumer Reports.
Although the tests found that both models of iPhone 6 were weaker than their predecessor, the iPhone 5S, the new handsets held out longer than the HTC One (M8), which the website says is "largely regarded as a sturdy, solid phone".
And the iPhone 6 Plus, which had been the focus of the #bendgate complaints, turned out to be more robust than its smaller brother.
Strongest of all was the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, which remained intact and unbent after more than twice as much pressure was applied to its frame.
- HTC One (M8): bent under 32kg of pressure / came apart under 41kg of pressure
- Apple iPhone 6: 32kg / 45kg
- Apple iPhone 6 Plus: 41kg / 50kg
- LG G3: 59kg / 59kg
- Apple iPhone 5: 59kg / 68kg
- Samsung Galaxy Note 3: 68kg / 68kg
Apple says that only nine customers have contacted the company with complaints about the iPhone 6 bending, but it is not known how many other incidents have gone unreported.
Wired magazine's reviewer Matt Honan said he has noticed his iPhone 6 Plus bending, albeit only slightly.
"Like a lot of people, I have a bent iPhone 6 Plus," he says. "It’s almost imperceptible, but it’s there: a slight warp right at the buttons on the side. Put the phone screen down on a table, and it wobbles. I haven’t purposefully bent it and I don’t recall sitting on it (but I probably have).
However, The Guardian says the new Apple devices are not the only phones to encounter structural problems.
"As smartphones become thinner and longer with bigger screens," it says, "their relative strength decreases while the force applied to them inside pockets can increase due to a lever effect".
iPhone bending: does the new phone fold under pressure?
Last week fans and critics were united in praise of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but now it seems that their much-admired slimline frames may not be stout enough for the rigours of the real world.
Some users are reporting that their new iPhones have ended up bent out of shape after being squeezed into skinny jeans pockets.
The Independent says the claims have given rise to a new Twitter hashtag: #bendgate. Pictures of newly-curved phones are being circulated online - though there is no way to be sure how they ended up like that.
One tech blogger went so far as to try to bend his iPhone 6 Plus on camera - he succeeded, though he described the experience of forcing the 158mm x 79mm aluminium case to bend as "painful".
Apple has played down the problem. "With normal use a bend in iPhone is extremely rare and through our first six days of sale, a total of nine customers have contacted Apple with a bent iPhone 6 Plus," the company said. "As with any Apple product, if you have questions please contact Apple."
It's not the first time a new iPhone attracted negative publicity soon after launch. When the iPhone 4 came out in 2010, users complained of dropped phone calls and engineers suggested that a design flaw meant that mobile reception was reduced when the metal frame came into contact with the user's hand.
"Steve Jobs himself was forced to respond," says the newspaper - though he did so by "mocking the media and claiming there was no real problem". Eventually Apple issued free cases to affected users to deal with the 'non-problem'.
There is no suggestion this time around that Apple will admit to any design flaw.
"iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus meet or exceed all of our high quality standards to endure everyday, real life use," the company said.
Apple user site Mac Rumours quotes one unhappy iPhone 6 Plus owner who spent 18 hours at a wedding (including eight hours travel) with the phone in the front pocket of his suit trousers. He was "mostly" sitting for that time.
When he got home, he noticed a bend when he put the phone on a coffee table. "The reflection of the window in the iPhone [was] slightly distorted," he says.
The site points out that this iPhone is larger and thinner than previous models - particularly the 6 Plus, which has a 5.5-inch screen. "Pressure points from sitting or bending now have greater potential to cause the longer iPhone to flex in a way that will damage the device," it says.
The answer may be to avoid tight pockets, The Guardian suggests, in a gallery of iPhone-compatible clothing for anyone anxious about damaging their new phone.
Meanwhile, loyal Apple fans flocked to the company's defence, suggesting that #Bendgate was little more than media hysteria.
"Were news reports that the iPhone 6 is prone to bending actually a plot orchestrated by mainstream media?" they asked in Business Insider.
Commenting on the article, reader MatthieuLF rejects this revisionist take. "Maybe it was blown out of proportion," he says. "But I still prefer to have a phone that doesn't bend and stay bent."