Bendgate? Nah, it's 'extremely rare': Apple gives rare tour of durability test lab


Apple has spoken up about the Bendgate scandal that is creeping up all over the Internet, saying that an iPhone 6 Plus that bends is an "extremely rare" event.

In a move atypical of Apple, which rarely responds immediately to issues bombarding its products, the iPhone maker swiftly responded to user complaints cropping up on the Internet about the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus bending while sitting with the phones in their pants' front pockets. On Sept. 25, Apple's marketing chief Paul Schiller issued a statement saying that Apple has received nine complaints from customers about their new iPhones bending. He also detailed the "rigorous tests" that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are subjected to the company's "black labs" to ensure that they "exceed all of our high-quality standards."

According to Schiller, the new iPhones have a "precision engineered unibody" made from a "custom grade of 6000 series anodized aluminum" crafted by Apple itself and have "stainless steel and titanium inserts" and the "strongest glass in the smartphone industry."

"We chose these high-quality materials and construction very carefully for their strength and durability," Schiller said. "We also perform rigorous tests throughout the entire development cycle including 3-point bending, pressure point cycling, sit, torsion and user studies."

Apple further shifted into high-gear damage control by inviting a few members of the technology press, including reporters from CNBC, The Verge and Re/code, to its testing laboratory, where Dan Riccio, Apple senior vice president of hardware engineering said a total of 30,000 iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were put to the test. The last time Apple invited technology journalists to the facility was during the Antennagate fiasco in 2010, when disgruntled iPhone 4 users complained that their iPhones lost cellular signal when they held their phones too tight.

One of the tests conducted on the new iPhones is a three-point test, where machines place various amounts of pressure on the phones to see how much load they can take before they begin to go out of shape. Apple did not say exactly how much pressure the iPhones can actually withstand but gave a ball-and-park figure of 25 kilograms.

"The bottom line is that if you use enough force to bend an iPhone, or any phone, it's going to deform," Riccio told The Verge.

The phones also go through a sit test, which mimics the pressure the iPhones go through when someone puts them in their pockets and sits on them. Another test is the torsion test, where the iPhones as well as Apple's MacBooks are twisted in various directions for "thousands of times."

Riccio said the testing facility in Cupertino is only a small portion of what the company has, since much of the testing is also done in Apple's supplier partners' facilities in China. Steve Kovach, senior technology editor of Business Insider, says the facility is similar to what Samsung also has for testing its own smartphones.

Apple recommends users who are having issues with their iPhone 6 Plus bending to reach out to its AppleCare customer service or visit one of its retail stores for an assessment if the issues are covered by warranty and eligible for replacement.

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