No launch of a new Apple product would be complete without a controversy, legions of disillusioned and angry customers and a class-action lawsuit that will surely follow. It has emerged that Apple’s new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have a structural weakness that makes them incredibly easy to bend.
The furore seems to have originated from a user posting on MacRumours that his iPhone 6 Plus bent after having been in his front pocket during a 4 hour drive followed by a 2 - 3 hour wedding. Further users posted photos of bent phones, also as a result of carrying them in their pockets.
As a result of the growing press, tech blogger Lewis Hilsenteger put the question to the test by bending his personal iPhone 6 Plus on camera
The results were impressive. Without too much force, the phone bent just behind the buttons which seems to be a particular point of weakness on the phone.
Of course, no insult to Apple can go unchallenged and counter claims that bending phones from other manufacturers as well as previous iPhones was a perfectly normal phenomenon.
As a follow-up however, Hilsenteger tried to bend the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Exerting a great deal more force, he was unable to make the phone bend in the same way as the iPhone 6 Plus
The fact that the iPhone 6 Plus can be damaged in this way is possibly not surprising. The combination of a particularly thin aluminium body which gets very warm during operation put in close contact with the body to warm it up further means that the body would be particularly easy to bend. However, the fact that it bends at a particular point on the body suggests that there may exist a manufacturing issue with certain types of phones that makes them particularly susceptible.
Contrast this with the construction of the Samsung Galaxy S5 which has a rigid band and features that make it water proof. Damage to the phone was obviously a major consideration in the design of this model.
Apple users will be able to take special care knowing the weakness in the iPhone 6 Plus by buying a sturdy case and also not leaving the phone in their pockets when sitting. Whether this turns out to be a major issue that Apple will have to respond to will depend on how many people suffer the problem.
What is perhaps surprising, other than the fact that Apple has not warned people (save this for the class-action suit), is the fact that Apple is charging several hundred dollars to replace damaged phones.
Apple does not respond to design flaws particularly well. Antennagate eventually resulted in Apple admitting there may have been a design problem with their antenna in the iPhone 4 which made it prone to dropping calls. Part of the issue is Apple’s priorities being on form first followed by function that fits in that form. This makes the engineering of the devices spectacular from an aesthetic perspective but not particularly good from a durability one. Of course, Apple doesn’t mind this because it expects all of its customers to upgrade their devices so frequently, that this shouldn’t be an issue.