Who is to blame for #bendgate?

Boy you people. You just can’t be satisfied. You want to hold your phone and not have the signal die. You want to navigate from your Malibu home to the nearest Starbucks and not get routed to Cleveland. You want to sit on your phones and have them not bend. There really is no pleasing you. I swear.

If you haven’t been paying attention lately, iPhone 6 Plusses are a bit on the bendy side according to some forums and YouTube personality, Unboxed Therapy. It turns out putting the new gigantic phones in your pockets – front or back – and then sitting down is a really bad idea and can cause the phone do its best LG Flex impersonation, but the wrong way. This has been met with some amount of criticism and fingers pointing right at Apple and not unfairly.

bent-iphoneTest it again

Apple puts so much work into its engineering that it’s almost unconscionable that this would pass through the design and testing process, let alone go into production. On my tour of Motorola labs, I was shown their physics labs where so much minutia is tested on a daily basis. These include things like drop tests with high speed cameras, wireframe models and even a lab that tests metal displacement when flexed. There are machines whose whole job is to press buttons over and over again. It’s fair to assume that Apple has these same facilities.

It’s not unreasonable to think that someone at Apple must have thought to themselves, “Hey wait. What if someone puts this thing in their pocket?” That question must have been asked at some point. Indeed, Apple’s response on Thursday indicated that one of their everyday usage scenarios included sitting on the thing over and over. So did Apple just decide in an Edward Norton/Fight Club kind of way that it would be cheaper just to deal with the people whose phones broke rather than going back to the drawing board?

button_pressingNine lives?

We don’t know, and we can’t know. Apple indicated that all of nine people had contacted them about this, but the rule in support is ten percent. Which is to say if you’ve heard from nine people, chances are 81 other people have had this same problem/request/issue and just didn’t call in for whatever reason. But either way it’s fair to say that nine people in this case is nine people too many.

Apple has a responsibility to ensure that it’s manufacturing standards meet those of other phones out there, such as the Galaxy Note 3 which was also tested by Unboxed Therapy. If the Note 3 doesn’t bend, why should the iPhone bend? The technology exists to make a phone super thin and not as brittle, so it’s Apple’s responsibility to make sure that doesn’t happen.

iphone-6-plus-pocketAnd yet…

Consumers might be the real culprits here though. Consumer demand has forced smartphone manufacturers to get larger and thinner and larger and thinner for years, and the iPhone is (finally) no exception. Physics dictates that “larger and thinner” is not necessarily a great formula for rigidity. At least not with the high-end materials that Apple is using in its flagship products. So it seems consumers want larger and thinner with a more malleable material like aluminum, and then they’re all surprised when nine of the 10,000,000 phones bend. For those of you not good with math, even assuming the 10% rule (90 phones bending), that’s still .0009% which is actually a remarkably good ratio.

But even if there are tons more of these incidents occurring, maybe Apple isn’t the one to blame here. In the video by Unboxed Therapy in which he bent his iPhone, if you look at his hands during the bending process, there’s a whole lot of force being pushed onto that phone. Blood was draining out of some places and pooling in other places. This indicates a considerable amount of effort went into this bending. So my dear consumers, if you feel that same amount of force being placed anywhere on your body, stop doing what you are doing and correct the situation.

Things you should not sit on

And for Pete’s sake don’t sit on your phones. Here’s a spoiler alert, you shouldn’t sit on your TV remote either. Sitting on things that aren’t chairs is really not a good idea, because if it was a good idea, they’d make chairs out of them too.

Your phone in an investment and should be treated as such. Should you need to don white gloves and enter a clean room to use it? Absolutely not. But it stands to reason that some amount of care should be exercised when handling a device comprised of glass and microchips. I’m not saying bent phone owners are completely in the wrong here, but it’s a phone, not a wallet. Although Apple is working on that too.

So what do you think, dear debaters? Should Apple be able to make a phone that doesn’t roll up like a windows shade when you have the temerity to take it out of the house? Or do consumers need to wake up and realize it’s not a tank, it’s a phone? Go ahead and share your thoughts below and let’s see if we can figure this out.

Leader image courtesy of Unbox Therapy

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!