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Straightening The Bend In The iPhone 6 Plus Saga

It has been little more than a week since the newest iPhones hit the shelves, and a problem has already surfaced, and it’s one that’s never before attributed to Apple before. Supposedly, the phones bent and deformed with everyday use. Such an problem has never been said of Apple products, a company that prides itself on building quality products.

It is not everyday that you hear of phones “bending”, let alone ones from Apple. But soon as the phones began to fly off the shelves, some consumers began complaining and posting on the internet that their latest and greatest iPhones would not withstand the pressures of everyday life. The people at Cupertino were not very worried because the number of complaints they received were miniscule to the number they had sold. Nine to be precise.

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.”

– Apple

Image Credit: Google Images
Image Credit: Google Images

That’s a small size compared to the number they had sold. Taking into account Six Sigma levels of efficiency, a quality standard held by manufacturers globally, this is very good quality. It’s possible that only nine people had actually complained to Apple and the others did not, but that’s an argument that can never be settled. That said, if my iPhone were to bend right now, I would be in the Apple store in the next 30 minutes.

Almost all examples of the bent iPhones were of the larger of the two new models, the iPhone 6 plus. The mere fact that iPhones were bending out of shape brought many to question the structural integrity of Apple’s new phones, with many wondering if Apple had sacrificed durability to gain its slimmer profile. The issue was further highlighted by a viral video that showed someone with supposed superhuman strength bending the new iPhones with his bare hands.

Earlier in the week, Apple had invited some journalists to visit their testing facilities to demonstrate the testing rigor that goes into their phones. Or onto their phones rather. Apple has said it carries out a variety of tests on its phones, using more than 15,000 pieces of every model before it goes into mainstream production.

Image Credit: The Verge
Image Credit: The Verge

Consumer Reports, an independent non-profit magazine in the USA, has put paid to all these concerns with a series of tests that came up with surprising results. For those who have not heard of Consumer Reports, they are a monthly publication by the Consumers Union. They do not accept free samples, marketing materials or any advances that may seem to undermine the integrity of their tests.

Coming back to the tests, Consumer Reports pitted the iPhone 6 and 6 plus against the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, LG G3, HTC One M8 and the iPhone 5. The tests were conducted within Consumer Reports facilities using an Instron machine for precise results. The tests conducted are known as a three-point flexural test – where a phone is supported on either ends and pressure applied down the middle.

Image Credit: Consumer Reports
Image Credit: Consumer Reports

As seen from the results above, the Galaxy Note 3 performed the best, withstanding 150 lbs until it deformed and the case separated.

But what came to the surprise of many was that the iPhone 6 Plus was not the weakest of the 6 models tested. In fact, that dubious honor goes to the HTC One M8. That’s right – a phone constructed entirely of metal and one from a company that had taken a jab at Apple’s “bendgate” scenario not more than a few days back. Maybe they should’ve waited for these results before pointing fingers.

Surprisingly, the iPhone 6 plus is also stronger than the smaller iPhone 6.

It is also interesting that most of the phones needed an additional 20-30 lbs of force to separate the phone from its case beyond first deformation – except for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the LG G3, which seemed to deform and separate at the same point in pressure. Many of the phones also seemed to work even after separating from their cases and also were able to make a few phone calls.

Image Credit: Consumer Reports
Image Credit: Consumer Reports

While the phones did bend and deform, it should be noted that all phones will bend and deform if the right amount of pressure is applied. To put it in layman terms, 55 lbs is what is required to bend or break three pencils held together. Not easy. But it can be said with relative assurance now that normal everyday use will not bend your iPhone or damage it in any way.

Unless, of course, you happen to belong to an elite club that fell to a prank that iOS 8 can charge your phone in a microwave!

Charging the iPhone in a microwave
Charging the iPhone in a microwave. (Image Credit: Twitter)

Apple’s competition has had a field day taking jabs at the Cupertino-based company for numerous reasons – from their botched live stream to this “bendgate”. It almost feels like media sensationalism in an effort to undermine a company that has a laser focus on quality and usability.

If you think exerting 70 lbs of pressure is what it takes for you to answer a call on your mobile, then the iPhone 6 series is not for you. But for the rest of you who answer your calls with a tap or don’t plonk yourself on a hard surface with the phone in your back pocket, you should be fine.

 

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