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Internal Documents Show Apple Knew the iPhone 6 Would Bend (vice.com)
99 points by atupem 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 88 comments

I understand this is a problem and the phones shouldn't be susceptible to problems like this from normal use. Apple will probably just have to eat this one. The thing that annoys me a little is that if any other phone had a similar bending problem, nobody would give a hoot. In fact it looks like the HTC One had pretty much the same bend-ability[1]. That doesn't make what happened to these people's phones acceptable, but I think it's useful perspective.

[1] https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/09/consumer-re...

Live by the sword, die by the sword. In this case, the 'sword' is the perception that Apple is a leader in quality.

In this case, the 'sword' is a strategy that originally tried to appeal to everyone, from the least competent user to professionals. Judging from some of the idiocy I see in app reviews, a part of what's happening is that the LCD users are bringing expectations down to their level.

What does one expect when you subject a deliberately thin electronic device to the full force of your body?

Where do you put your phone? I put mine in my pockets. It's not unusual for a fair amount of strain to be applied there.

I put mine in my pockets. I also exercise some intelligence and common sense in how I do it.

It's not unusual for a fair amount of strain to be applied there.

For you and other people, apparently not.

You "exercise some intelligence and common sense in how [you put your phone in your pocket]"? What? What does that look like?

My Samsungs, HTC's, and older iPhones did just fine with me exercising exactly no intelligence when I put them in my pocket.

• I put my phone in my front pocket, instead of the back, so I'm not sitting on it;

• I then make sure to buy pants with front pockets deep enough that my phone is not being pressed into my groin when I sit;

• and I take my phone out of my pocket if someone is about to sit on [or straddle] my lap, charge into me at waist height, or drop a large object on my leg while I'm laying on my side.

You know, common sense.

Yeah, that's pretty much me. I don't do it to pamper my phone. It's that I find all of those situations uncomfortable otherwise. However, I still do feel that people who behave callously in those situations are exhibiting: "This is why we can't have nice things."

Please realize that not everyone shares this sentiment, and would rather want a phone suited to their current situation, instead of having to adapt to their phone - like having to buy pants that fits the phone. To me, that's just as much common sense.

There are many phone-sized objects, though. It's not so much that you buy pants to fit just your phone, as that you buy pants that are functional according to the current expectations of society on what you should be carrying around with you; and clothiers also take this into account and make most pants with pockets large-enough to fit those same expected accessories.

I mean, I do approach the problem from the other direction as well; one reason I don't buy a phone that's approaching phablet size (other than not being able to hold the things in one hand) is that it wouldn't fit in the pockets of most pants, greatly narrowing the range of pants I could wear (or necessitating an—admittedly probably cheap—tailoring to add deeper pockets.)

But as it stands, I'm not limiting myself much—my phone is only slightly larger than my wallet, so I'm just avoiding clothes that not only wouldn't fit a phone, but wouldn't fit a wallet. There aren't that many pants (for men, at least) that have pockets that small/shallow/tight.

The people are using it wrong(but not the previous generation that did not bend), maybe Apple should sell them some cases for protection /s

Totally agree, e.g. if Samsung hat problems with their batteries, nobody would give a hoot. Just because everyone is out to get Apple.

Batteries exploding causing fires, damage, and possible harm to those around it


An expensive slab of metal and glass that, surprise, bends if you do things like sit on it with it in your back pocket or other unnecessary forces.

100% completely, completely different. One is an actual danger (Samsung), the other is mistreating and not respecting the device (People who spend a ton of money on an iPhone and then treat it roughly).

To be fair, an order of magnitude more devices bent than exploded.

Not entirely true, Samsung sales dropped heavily when their batteries exploded and were banned at airports with signs on airports not allowing you to board if you had samsung on you and there is likely some sort of lawsuit against samsung for exploding batteries. Apple sales likely didnt get as fazed.

Theres no real hate, its more because they lied. People reserve a right to sue about a product if there are fraudulent claims.

Pretty sure the person you were responding to forgot to add /s to the end.

Batteries exploding is a massively different circumstance than a largely-aesthetic¹ issue.

¹I never even heard of "touch disease" before this article, I didn't realize bendgate actually affected touch sensing in the slightest.

It's not just an aesthetic. It can cause a host of other electrical problems which can affect its basic use. Circuit boards aren't designed to be ductile.

That's absolutely true -- but even if it completely and irreparably bricked the device, I think it's fair to say that you'd still be talking about a very different set of consequences from batteries exploding or emitting noxious fumes.

This is whataboutism. Samsung has been punished and taken major losses as a result of their faulty design. Apple still has people trying to pretend that it wasn't such a bad problem.

I saw a shit ton of "bendgate" press. It was a major media issue.

And you know what? In reality it wasn't a major issue. For most people it was just a minor one. My phone was slightly bent. It bothered me that it was slightly bent. Beyond that mild bother though, it had no impact on my life. For the people who suffered "touch disease" (which again, I never even heard of until this article so it can't have been terribly widespread) it obviously was a problem, though one that's easily fixed by having the phone replaced under warranty. Obviously, having a widespread issue affect your flagship phone in this manner is a problem, but it's largely a PR problem rather than a serious issue with the device.

Meanwhile, having your phone end up as a ticking time bomb that could explode at any moment is a pretty major issue.

They're both major issues. The Samsung one is a safety issue. The Apple is a quality and reliability one.

The Ford Pinto and the Yugo GV were both bad cars. The Pinto would kill you. The Yugo was made poorly with substandard materials. Splitting hairs over which was the biggest failure is something for a top ten list. They were both bad for consumers who spent their money on them and were stuck with a product that they couldn't continue to use.

If bendgate prevented you from using your phone then you’d have a point. But it didn’t. For nearly everybody it was purely a (rather subtle) aesthetic issue.

Until it bent to the point where it didn't work. Electrical components are not designed to deform plastically or have residual stresses.

The Ford Pinto and the Samsung both suffered from fuel/power problems that caused them to be dangerous. (Although, the Pinto was worse because they knew about it beforehand and calculated the monetary loses from deaths.)

The Yugo and Apple both suffer from problems with structural stability and reliability, yet one is a joke to a punchline and the other one is Yugo.

None of these scenarios are good for consumers and none of them should be excused as biased or unfair. Bad products should get bad press coverage. In this case, people should have fair warning that the premium that they paid for a prestige brand doesn't mean they're getting prestige level materials.

What about the Note batteries exploding? People seemed to care about that.

The parent was making a sarcastic counterpoint.

Nobody owns a HTC One, so why would anyone care about the problems it has?

iPhone 6 probably sold 100x times as much as the HTC One

There’s some truth to this. The Nexus 6p would bend just looking at it wrong. Nowhere near the controversy.

There's nothing to "eat" because the court didn't certify the class.

Apple are held to a higher standard because of the perception that their hardware is of a higher standard. I don't see the problem.

Although this is changing now, when the iPhone 6 first came out it really was supposed to be miles ahead came to hardware quality. Apple said it, the blogs said it, etc.

   > The thing that annoys me a little is that if any other 
   > phone had a similar bending problem, nobody would 
   > give a hoot.
If you can't carry a mobile phone in your pocket without it bending, the phone is not fit for purpose.

Maybe nobody notices when other companies sell phones that are unfit and, later, lie to the public about it. On the other hand, nobody would defend them either.

Never been a problem for my 6+.

Maybe people who want to carry a phone in their pockets should be more careful when they sit down, or wear pants that aren't so tight.

For the many customers whose phones developed touch disease, it was a problem. And Apple themselves say it's 7x more bendy than previous models... well, except that Apple doesn't say so publicly :(

Do those sticking up for Apple in this thread want Apple to continue releasing flimsier products than they used to? I do not understand why there is so much positivity about this story.

Still holding out hope for the 2016 Macbook Pro keyboard class action and subsequent repair programs.

Me too, a free repair program would be nice, for those of us unlucky enough (like me...) to have spent thousands of dollars on one, and a replacement keyboard coming in at ~700 dollars thanks to it requiring so much of the machine to be replaced.

I bet we just get a 12 dollar check in the mail though.

Finally got tired of random letters "n" missing in my text and got a PixelBook with Linux support as my new dev laptop.

Would really like to know how that works out for you, tempted to get one myself. Holding out for 8th gen i7 though - work XPS 13 has 8th gen and not looking to 'downgrade' CPU. Pixelbooks are rarer than hens teeth on eBay so no refurbishment bargains to be had.

That is going to be a very interesting can of worms to open.

This is Apple's modus operandi. The same thing happened with the early 2011 MBPros, which GPUs kept failing systematically, even after costly repairs.

It took a class action lawsuit for them to start refunding repairs and provide an actual solution, but by then it was far too late.

My wife has a MacBook Air where the touch pad doesn't work, the screen has bright and darker spots and Wifi doesn't get any connection.

It made me buy a Dell XPS13 after 15y of Apple.

Then Dell proved they could do worse.

Sorry for the rant. I just hate myself for spending $3500 on garbage.

I can't find out why everyone rants and raves about the XPS13. Everywhere you look people are more or less shouting their positive reviews for it. The one I bought (top of the line i7 with fingerprint reader, touchscreen, the works) broke. They sent me a replacement (after a lot of arguing, even though I was in warranty), and that one broke too. I called again, they sent me a third laptop and within a month it broke again!! All of these problems were internal problems with the hardware... For example, my first one had a heatsink (heat pipe? I don't remember. Something to do with heating) come loose and would constantly overheat. Anyone who's had a XPS knows that these things are fragile enough that dropping it would shatter the screen before dislodging a heat pipe.

It also had one of the most annoying touchpads I've ever used and the small bezel made me not want to use it for anything that took more than five minutes - for some reason programming especially was difficult. I'm not sure why, it just felt way more difficult to do on the 13.

I finally just bit the bullet and bought a surface laptop - I love everything about it. I'm on month three right now, no problems so far. Fingers crossed.

(I don't work for Dell or Microsoft)

Hahaha. I had one of the original XPS13. When I got it delivered, 4 or 5 keys on the keyboard were broken (they were attached on 2 points, when of those broken).

I got a new keyboard delivered, spend a solid 2 hours opening the whole thing (YOU HAVE TO REMOVE THE KEYBOARD FROM THE BACK OF THE LAPTOP WTF???), put the new keyboard in, only to realize a key was broken on the new keyboard.

That was my last purchase of a Dell laptop.

We carry both Surface laptops and XPS 13s in our company. In my experience (n=23) both are pretty reliable workhorses.

TBH, MBA trackpad failures are often caused by liquid damage, bright spots on the display are caused by pressure on the computer when it's closed, and the wifi again is an uncommon failure that can also be caused by liquid (the wifi/bluetooth chip is near the fan exhaust on the back of the top case, which can serve as an entrance for liquid). I'm not saying that all the issues you had were caused by user damage, but they may have been, and they aren't part of any larger trend with known failures.

I love how you assume by default it's the fault of my wife who you don't even know and not Apple quality control.

I feel the urge to defend my wife because you attacked her, although I don't know you and I should not care the least about personal attacks from people on the internet.

But we can't leave the internet to haters.

My wife is the most careful person I know. Her electronic devices always go into protection bags, are handled with the most care and look new after 10 years of usage.

Most everyone on this site needs to go through their purchase history and tally up the garbage/non-garbage and total up the amounts. (And if you can get through that smelling like a rose, good for you!)

That also happened to my mid-2012 rMBPro, but, upon further research, I'd discovered that Apple had similar laptop GPU problems going back as far as 2007. There were also similar class action lawsuits to address the problem earlier.

What pissed me off the most was the fact that they kept shipping MBs with similar flaws year after year and when MB users complained, their strategy was to look away and pretend that it was users' fault. I initially had to pay $300+ to replace the logic board and eventually got all of it refunded.

Going back to 2003 in fact: http://macintoshhowto.com/hardware/how-do-i-get-my-broken-g4... http://johnbakersblog.co.uk/design-fault-in-apples-ibook-g4/ I had one of these laptops and Apple charged me £75 to look at it, and failed to fix it. Later the Danish Consumer Complaints Board investigated and found that there was a systematic fault in the solder joints.

Couldn't agree more after watching this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUaJ8pDlxi8 with detailed schematics and explanations.

I think I started watching Louis Rossmann from a Hacker News link. He's got some really interesting videos on various issues with Apple products. Really interesting to watch.

> but by then it was far too late

My 2011 MBP had been collecting dust for a year when the repairs came and I had already bought a new MBP. Afterwards nobody wanted to buy the repaired 2011 MBP. I ended up gifting that machine to a junior dev on the team.

In Mexico, Apple asked for about $1200 USD to replace the logic board on the 2011 MBP, and it made no sense to me to invest that kind of money on an old computer without knowing if Apple would start a repair program later.

I've learned my lesson. Never buy an Apple product without Apple Care. It sucks but thankfully I can afford it. I'd rather pay more than suffer Windows and I can't use Linux because I use Adobe apps.

>I'd rather pay more than suffer Windows

What causes you to suffer when using Windows?

A number of things, but most notably the ecosystem.

Outside of Microsoft and some other big developers, there is still surprisingly a ton of win32 crap out there. Also support for scaling on hi DPI screens is a hit and miss. Even some Adobe apps have problems with scaling.

Or you could buy a business edition Windows laptop, with reliability that makes Apple laptops look like toys, and install whatever OS you want, and get the benefit of both worlds.

All you have to give up to get a reliable product is the shiny Apple logo on the back of your screen.

All the manufacturers have their problems. It doesn‘t matter if you buy HP, Lenovo, Microsoft or Apple.

If you want a low maintenance device you are probably best suited with Apple or Microsoft devices since you don‘t have to worry about driver updates and bloatware.

I haven't had any real issues with my P51. It pretty much just does what it says on the label.

I have more issues with Windows 10 "updating" my printer drivers to versions with fewer features or replacing my working graphics drivers with versions that don't have any control panels. The only reason I still use Windows is to open Word documents.

I've messed with hackintoshes for years on desktop. It's easy to get macOS running, getting it to 100% is much more challenging. On laptops it's even worse. Plus a hackintosh installation can die for whatever reason at the most unexpected moment.

No thanks.

Apple laptops are statistically as reliable as most other manufacturers. But Lenovo, Dell, etc, are more ugly with worse trackpad and worse screen.

Trust me I've tried everything. With all its faults, for me, macOS on Apple hardware is still the best choice.

Mike Mullane’s “Normalisation of Deviance” talk to a group of firefighters[1] is relevant here. He describes how the Challenger shuttle disaster happened despite internal memos about the problem years prior.

The message of the talk is, essentially, that a person or team can get used to ignoring their own standards when under pressure.

[1]: https://youtube.com/watch?v=Ljzj9Msli5o

And yet out of all the people I knew who owned an iPhone 6 from launch never dealt with the "bendgate" issue, including myself. That's from personal experience owning and using one daily for 3 years.

I still think this was an over-dramatized problem.

If you eat/drink while working at a keyboard you can get stuff between the keys and either get them sticky or completely broken. Some actions can just cause issues but if you handle the thing properly then you have nothing to worry about.

>Some actions can just cause issues but if you handle the thing properly then you have nothing to worry about.

Those keyboards broke because of small dust particles, nothing related to liquids, people are using the laptops as before but this time the keyboards are to fragile.

The issue with Apple is that they sell products with defects and then refuse to replace them for free until they have to because of lawsuits.

Apple acknowledged that it made fragile phones that can bend, if you do not know people that had this issue does not mean that only a few people have issues, as you read in the article Apple made some changes in the way the phone is built to patch the problem, they would not have changed the production line for a few cases only,

>Those keyboards broke because of small dust particles, nothing related to liquids, people are using the laptops as before but this time the keyboards are to fragile.

I didn't specify which keyboard. Even mechanical keyboards can be affected by this. I wasn't referring specifically to the new Macbook butterfly keys.

The amount of dust that would be necessary to incapacitate a mechanical keyboard would probably coincide with the amount of dust necessary to fill all the space of the key travel.

Most mechanical keyboards are basically protected from dust entering the physical area of the switches due to a hat-like dome formed by the keycap itself. On top of that a lot of the switches are closed and rated for minor dust exposure (cherry's can with stand some water and dust internally)

I've never heard of a keyboard failing because of dust with the exception of Apple's MBP keyboards.

Again, I didn't specify dust. My point was that keyboards are susceptible to getting sticky from different ways. It's an accepted potential issue.

Most well engineered keyboards are splash resitant and easy to clean if they get sticky.

But that is not the problem. The problem is really that the keyboard is susceptible to a problem that 99.9% of other keyboards are not, even on laptops.

A complete failure of operation because of dust is inacceptable on a device that will be expose to a lot of environmental dust from being in laptop bags or having people carry them around to eat or similar.

"Apple acknowledged that it made fragile phones that can bend"

Of course they did. There's no such thing as a phone that cannot bend, because nobody wants to carry around a phone made of 1" plate steel. But even 1" plate steel would bend.

You are so smart, but have you tested all the phones? Are you sure that are no phones that won't noticeably bend before breaking? There may be one then your statement is false.

We will see what happens after Apple is found guilty and what apologies will the fans find.

Hardware and software can have problem, Apple is not perfect so why do you feel the need to defend it.

"Apple argued […] that consumers could not have been uniformly exposed to any alleged misinformation or lies of omission because Apple keeps its iPhone boxes in the back of the [Apple] store, where customers aren’t allowed."

-I am quite possibly a bit slow here, but can anyone please explain how keeping the iPhone boxes out of reach of customers somehow gets Apple off the hook?

I am honestly puzzled as I am typing this on my non-bent, company-issue iPhone 6.

IANAL but I think the idea is this: The plaintiff claim that Apple knew about the defect, and so it was willful deception to omit the defect in any written materials which could influence a purchase decision.

Apple's reply is that customers weren't given any written materials prior to purchase, not even the box. So there was no way omissions in the written materials could have influenced purchase decisions.

-Your explanation makes sense; the principle does not.


I agree!

"We've omitted everything so we've omitted nothing" - Apple

Alternatively, "We can't have misinformed if we haven't informed at all" Still a jerk move

so apple is basically saying it's okay to make a defective product as long as you keep the packaging at the back of the store?

If people are willing to buy your product sight unseen, will the actual product specifications and warnings fend them off?

Even reviews or average stars will if you're buying anything online, no?

Technically everything relevant is probably accessible via the Apple website, using the computers in the store.

Duh, its been the same way with all of their hardware manufacturing errors. The standard template is:

Numerous social media posts about the same problem.

Denials and costly fixes for them. To the point of specialized third party accessories. Remember the iPhone antenna “bands”?

Apple acknowledges the issue.

Class action lawsuit filed.

Leaks about Apple knowing about the issue months before any corrective action.

For all that people keep mentioning antennagate, I personally never noticed this being an issue while owning the iPhone 4, nor did any of the other people I knew with an iPhone 4. It just wasn't something that ever came up in practice. And (seemingly as always), the iPhone 4 managed to beat out every other device of its time in consumer satisfaction surveys.

Does Apple make missteps? Sure. The new MacBook Pro keyboards are genuinely a disaster. But 95% of the complaints people actually bring up seem to be dramatically overblown.

Apple have positioned themselves as a luxury brand, so they'll be held to a higher standard. They sell enormous volumes of a very small number of SKUs, so a design defect will affect an unusually large number of customers. It clearly isn't doing too much damage to Apple's bottom line.

I worked at Apple doing phone tech support during this time and it was a big issue. You could take the iPhone and hold it one way to drop the signal almost completely. For users, it was incredibly frustrating.

Interestingly I view the new Apple keyboards as overall reasonably good, although obviously with a few problems. A disaster for me would be the 2011 Macbook Pros that died over and over again just outside the warranty period. Worse, Apple‘s fix was to swap out to a working motherboard with the same latent flaw.

I actually love the new keyboard, except I've already had one die and now have to keep the new one under a silicone cover to keep it clean.

The failure rate on them is nuts though.

I distinctly remember reading article that they fixed this on later production runs with some sort of coating. Wasn't the white iPhone 4 delayed for this?

Yeah and Papermaster being made scapegoat despite the issue mostly being Apple UI overestimating signal strength to the end user... but yeah, you be holding it wrong.

That's why I pay the "Apple premium" on all my devices, so that apple can claim their hardware has the highest quality, and can pay to fend off all the class action lawsuits that claim otherwise.

Not going to defend Apple. But one doesn't have to be genius to find out that iPhone 6 would be more prone to bending than iPhone 5 (2x times thicker). The internal document doesn't proof anything. It's just numbers.

It's not just that they knew it would bend. The document shows that Apple also knew that bending from normal use would detach the Touch IC chip and render the phone unusable. They secretly addressed this in later iPhone 6 runs ("after internal investigation, Apple determined underfill was necessary to resolve the problems caused by the defect") while continuing to charge affected users $350 (generously reduced to $150 after media attention) to fix their bricks.

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