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Apple confirms some iPad Pros ship slightly bent, but says it’s normal (theverge.com)
67 points by lisper 31 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 69 comments



I don't understand... Apple is supposed to be the company that produces premium technology, their products supposed to signal status, it's supposed to be the epitome of aesthetics. How come in the recent years they're doing these easily preventable mistakes? I don't think Apple doesn't have a well-paid QA team. They probably do. So they found this bug and decided to ship it?


Their obsession with thinness and lightness has stretched their manufacturing QC beyond its breaking point. Almost all of the widespread hardware problems Apple is experiencing these days could've been avoided if they would just allow themselves an extra millimeter or gram here and there.


>Almost all of the widespread hardware problems Apple is experiencing these days could've been avoided if they would just allow themselves an extra millimeter or gram here and there.

That's a bold claim. Can you back up it?


It's basic engineering mechanics. All bending equations come back to the second moment of area [1], which for a rectangle is b*h^3/12. Double the thickness and your object becomes 8 times stiffer. Second gen 10.5" iPad Pro (can't find dimensions for 3rd) is 6.1mm. Change that to 7.1, and it becomes (7.1)^3/(6.1)^3 = 1.58x stiffer. Not indestructible, but a massive improvement for a small change.

1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_moment_of_area#Rectangl...


>That's a bold claim. Can you back up it? They made similar products in the past that were thicker and not easily bendable. That seems to speak for itself.


Apple also changes materials and processes all the time. Despite being thicker (and shorter), the iPhone SE bends more easily than newer iPhones like the 6S [1], 7 or 7 Plus [2].

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWRnDVcfA3g [2]: https://www.squaretrade.com/press/SquareTrade-Labs-iPhone-7-...


Every device that supports 3D Touch is highly resistant to bending, because AIUI the way 3D Touch is implemented basically puts a metal plate inside the phone. This is why the iPads never got 3D Touch, because they’d end up too heavy with a metal plate that large.


That's true, although their thinnest products always had a small surface area as well (iPod nano), so less torque could be applied which probably contributed to the durability.


The bend can be thought of as exactly that: a unique differentiator that adds status and flair to an already desirable item. For a manufacturer as highly lauded as Apple, the opportunity to acquire a one-of-a-kind iPad with a bespoke chassis camber will surely be sought after by consumers.

If anything, we should be congratulating those involved for their ability to bring organic design inspiration to the highest echelons of computing; and affordably too!


>easily preventable mistakes

Considering that iPads are machined to very high tolerances, they are extremely flat as built, at least early in the process. Also many of the later steps in construction are highly automated, relying on custom fixtures that would tend to detect an out-of-tolerance part.

That suggests that bends in the final product happened late somehow, possibly from mishandling in shipping and final packaging. Depending on your quality inspections at that point, a certain number of out-of-tolerance devices might make it though (because early on all iPads are checked individually, but maybe not re-checked as late as in packaging.)

Apple is also known for holding its manufacturers to high quality bars that sometimes are often difficult to meet. So they are under pressure to both meet the agreed upon standards, but also ship tremendous quantities of product without high amounts of rework, the costs of which they, the manufacturer, would have to eat, not Apple.


> Apple is also known for holding its manufacturers to high quality bars that sometimes are often difficult to meet. So they are under pressure to both meet the agreed upon standards, but also ship tremendous quantities of product without high amounts of rework, the costs of which they, the manufacturer, would have to eat, not Apple.

According to Apple:

>The bend is the result of a cooling process involving the iPad Pro’s metal and plastic components during manufacturing, according to Apple

Apple is ultimately responsible. They designed this device. Their materials people knew how flexible this chassis would be. I find it highly unlikely they didn't know it would bend until manufacturing ramped up.


They probably found it too late and couldn't stomach the idea of recalling it right before Christmas.


I imagine that, much like LCD screens, the "failure" rate for a reasonable production batch is too high to reject every slightly bent iPad.

Still sucks, and I believe it's reasonable that that the iPad pro could still be profitable even with a high reject rate, but not profitable enough.


Apple uses premium materials & packaging but they historically have not had very good engineering quality. This goes back years and years, too, it's not a recent thing. Apple frequently does "Exchange and Repair Extension Programs" for these mistakes.

I think it's unfair to blame their QA team, either, as some of the issues should have been obvious without QA. Like the recent 6-core macbook pros that didn't receive a thermal capacity or VRM upgrade in response to using a CPU with a higher power usage.

It's just not really a thing Apple does. They focus their engineering on the parts you physically see & touch, not the ones you don't. They just deal with that later with repair & replacements programs or crude workarounds.


You refer to Apple like only one person works there. There are hundreds of thousands of engineers making hundreds of products with thousands of suppliers. Have you even opened a few devices yourself? The engineering in most other phones are pretty trash compared to how easy it is to work on Apple mobile devices. Their iPads are the most reliable things ever made. I have almost never seen a truly dead iPad while anything Samsung tablet that does not power on goes in the trash. If you have an Apple mobile device you will find TONs of people willing to fix it. Other brands? Good luck. Their computing devices though...


iPads may be Apple's unicorn then because right now there's an extended repair & replace program for the iPhone 6 plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and iPhone X.

The narrative that it's reliable & well-engineered doesn't at all match the fact that nearly every single phone they've made in the last few years needed a special warranty program for a common issue. And that's ignoring things like antennae-gate & bend-gate, too, these are issues that Apple themselves are considering common enough to necessitate a special program to handle.

Perhaps there are tons of people willing to fix Apple products because tons of people need their Apple products repaired? That market doesn't really exist if the devices were "the most reliable things ever made"

Like it's great that Apple will at least do these programs for the issues, but they also don't have a strong reliability record here, either.


There are only 100K total employees at Apple. Engineers number a small fraction of that. And not hundreds of products - the total is much less than 100, and only that high because of the different configurations of the same product.

The reliability thing is true.


I'm sure everyone at Apple is very well paid. (Aside: I truly wish the canard that people who are not well paid must not be good at their jobs would finally die.)

There's a story I heard from a former coworker who worked at Apple QA during the time of the first iMac (take it as you will). The infamous puck mouse had hundreds of reports filed against it. They were vetoed, from above.

So I would probably agree that Apple has a QA team, and that the company knew about this decided to ship anyway.

I disagree that any of this is just "in the recent years", though. The Titanium PowerBooks fell apart easily. The 2013 Mac Pro has no internal expansion, but it's far from the first Mac to suffer from that. For any problem I hear about Apple's hardware today, I can think of other examples of it happening years or decades ago. Lacking a real escape key seems odd on the new MacBook Pro, but the (otherwise cute if big) Apple Adjustable Keyboard had the same problem (and not even the TouchBar as an excuse). And so on.


These iPads can easily be bent in half with bare hands: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUBsxCcJeUc&t=385

Doesn't bode well for them holding up in, e.g., a backpack or briefcase that ends up being sat or stepped on. Or even just being shoved into an overhead compartment or beneath a seat.


May be Apple just made the first foldable tablet ;-)

Seriously though, they should add a structural frame even if it means making it slightly heavier and thicker. This is just NOT premium stuff.


Does anyone at Apple pay attention to how these things are used, in practice? If you have kids -- for many, even if not -- they will end up being sat upon, even if they do not undergo being thrown around and other rough handling.

Speaking of which, what happens when two kids are fighting over the tablet? They grab on, and...

I don't have kids. I've observed my friends' kids interacting, upon occasion. So, I am wondering about this.

Do cases provide enough added rigidity to these thinner models?


I wonder how long you'd last in an apple store, ask them "Are these strong enough for day to day use", then bend it with your bare hands.


These iPads can easily be bent in half with bare hands

Why would you want to?

I just don't understand the way people treat their tech devices these days. I see millennials putting iPhones in their back pockets and then wondering why the screen shatters when they sit down. You are putting a piece of glass against your butt and sitting on it!

I remember when flip phones, digital cameras, floppy disks, and even Atari 2600's were handled with care. Because they would break, and were expensive to replace!

Do people act this way because stuff doesn't cost enough? Because paying for stuff with credit makes it seem like it's free, and therefore not worth anything? Or has the magic just gone out of tech for the average butt-storing phone user?


You shouldn't have to treat a $1000 device like it's going to turn into dust. Sure, don't chuck your phone at concrete walls, but in general a phone needs to be able to take a spill occasionally or have someone sit on it because those things happen in real life.

It sounds like Apple has sacrificed too much in the name of being thin, and really botched their structural integrity.

Devices exist to be used, not kept in a museum.


> Sure, don't chuck your phone at concrete walls

A friend of mine had her horse stand on her phone. Carried on working for the next few days until it needed recharging, found some mud in the connector, cleaned that out, lasted another few years.

The nokia 3210 had a lot going for it.


You shouldn't have to treat a $1000 device like it's going to turn into dust.

I don't understand the link between price and resistance to damage.

If I buy a Faberge egg for $4 million, I don't expect that I can sit on it without causing damage.

A friend recently spent $20k on new windows for his house. I don't expect them to be baseball-resistant because they cost more than his previous, cheaper, windows.

It sounds like Apple has sacrificed too much in the name of being thin

I don't disagree with this. I'd rather have a little thicker laptop in exchange for a better keyboard. But because my laptop cost $4k, I don't expect that I can treat it anyway I like. It's a computer, not a rock.


> I don't understand the link between price and resistance to damage.

People expect tablets to be somewhat durable, and they expect the best tablets to be especially so.


People expect tablets to be somewhat durable, and they expect the best tablets to be especially so.

Then why is there a massive market for protective cases and screen protectors?


The point is that plenty of manufacturers (including Apple!) have made phones that don't bend if you look at them crooked. And a reasonable hypothesis is that users will migrate to those phones, once/if Apple gets a reputation for unreliability.

I'm not so sure, though, between the cult of Apple and consumers' well attested love of device thinness.


I carry my tech in a cyclists backpack which I wear when riding my bicycle or motorcycle. Increment weather, dust, high winds and extreme heat/near freezing cold are are normal conditions on my way to work. My current laptop was even able to survive an 80mph over-the-bars log roll.

Why would I "upgrade" to a device that can't?


> Do people act this way because stuff doesn't cost enough?

Cars cost 5-20x+ the price, not to mention fuel and insurance, and people get into car accidents all the time. Cost has nothing to do with it. People aren't robots, they make mistakes.

Good mass-market design is life-proof where possible. People will drop their phones, they will forget their phones in the pockets of the pants they just put in the laundry. Designers can either design for humanity as it is, or humanity as they wish it was, and the latter do all of us a disservice.


Did you happen to watch the video? He didn't try very hard to break it. It's not like he put it over his knee using all his strength.


You're missing the point of the video. It's not that you would intentionally bend it in half with your bare hands, it's that if it's so flimsy that that's trivial then it's flimsy enough to not withstand common accidental loads.

I'm not going to buy an expensive portable piece of electronics that can't survive being in a backpack. I do own expensive fragile things, but they stay on a shelf in my apartment. No way in hell would I bring them out into the world with me every day where they can be easily destroyed.

This isn't "millennials'" fault for being less careful with things; it's a simple failure of industrial engineering. And no, back in your day, people weren't more careful.


> I remember when flip phones, digital cameras, floppy disks, and even Atari 2600's were handled with care. Because they would break, and were expensive to replace!

What on earth are you talking about? The meme of indestructible nokia phones came about because people treated flip phones terribly. People used to toss phones & cameras into bags all the time back in the day. And unsurprisingly they still do.

If anything younger generations are better at this than older ones as they are used to tech being fragile instead of the indestructible tanks of a decade+ ago.


The meme of indestructible nokia phones came about because people treated flip phones terribly.

Amazingly, there were other phones on the market besides low-end Nokias.


Seems they could make it a bit stronger by glueing the batteries to the display (and, if that isn’t done yet, to the back plane), at the cost of repairability.

In the end, though, there’s little you can do to make a device that thin very strong against bending forces (steel tubes around the edge would make it harder to bend the entire thing, but would use a lot of the volume, add weight, and wouldn’t help much against forces applied to the center of the display)

I can see the lure of thinness and its associated decrease in weight, though. If you compare today’s iPad to previous generations, the weight difference feels enormous.


Well they also added structural weaknesses (charge port & microphone hole) to the center of the frame, at the point of highest leverage. Making it easier to bend in half than it should have been. Those should have been re-positioned (microphone hole) or strengthened (charge port).


Well, bend-gate for the 6 plus was fake.

Any reason we shouldn't assume this is fake too?


because there are tons of user reports of ipads bending very easily. Also hes pretty reputable


Because Apple is agreeing?

> Apple has confirmed to The Verge that some of its 2018 iPad Pros are shipping with a very slight bend in the aluminum chassis.


No, Apple is acknowledging these iPads ship bent due to the manufacturing process, not that they bend easily as the comment I responded to claims.


> The bend is the result of a cooling process involving the iPad Pro’s metal and plastic components during manufacturing, according to Apple.

So it's a manufacturing defect. Calling it a "side effect" instead is just semantics.


A manufacturing defect implies it’s an unexpected outcome. This is an expected outcome.


Really? So apple intended to ship non-flat tablets? What is the rational for intentionally making only some of these non-flat? What advantage or innovation does the non-flatness of a certain percentage of ipad's allow? I mean it totally seams plausible that they simply neglected to mention how non-flat tablets are the next big innovation when they were announced.

Or, perhaps this is just damage control because it is fucking embarrassing on a "premium" device.


You’re confusing “designed” with “expected outcome”. Obviously Apple didn’t design the iPad to be pre-bent, and presumably they’re not thrilled about this. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t an expected outcome of the manufacturing process. It’s not a desired outcome, but it’s one that I guess Apple decided was acceptable in order to meet the other goals they had for the process.


expectation != intention


I am an ardent Apple fan, to the extent of sometimes defending them in public or private forums.

This is maybe the most bone-headed, indefensible response I've ever seen from them.

I get that these are really large, thin devices. I get that they are totally different than the iPad 2 someone might wrap in a case and give to a kid. But saying it is a feature, not a bug, is ridiculous.

Their response has immediately made this twice as bad from a PR perspective. Unbelievable.


Where did they say “it’s a feature”?


"it's not a bug, it's a feature" is sort of a phrase/meme referring to bugs that have been tried to not like a bug by PR departments. In this case, we see that this is a bug (iPads are supposed to be flat), but Apple claims "it's normal" to sell their device: classic "it's not a bug, it's a feature" attitude.


This seems like a cop-out to me. I love Apple products but dismissing manufacturing issues as something we should accept as okay is just wrong. I recently bought the iPhone XS Max so I'm not anti-Apple but I expect premium quality for a premium price.


My Yoga Book (Lenovo) and Surface Book Pro (Microsoft) are perfectly flat, and they've been around the world several times.


Lenovo consistently blows me away with build quality. They're simply insane, especially the Thinkpads.


Can't say I'm having that experience with my Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga 3rd Gen. The speakers are the worst sound I've heard in a laptop in a long time, the Dolby HDR screen isn't calibrated out of the box (it has a terrible +10% red tint), and it doesn't charge if the device is switched off - it has to be in sleep mode. I'm regretting my purchase.

But that said - it's replacing a MacBook Pro that had to be fixed by Apple 6 times, each time for a faulty SATA flex cable that failed every two months so it couldn't boot from the internal drive. So far the X1 Yoga hasn't had that kind of problem.


And it's not bent, is it?


The Magic Keyboard has exhibited the same problems since last year: https://mjtsai.com/blog/2017/12/07/the-magic-keyboard-with-n...

This is a pattern.


The thin glass screen of our iPad Pro broke only three weeks after we got it. It fell onto the floor from a height of about 50 cm. Of course, the screen is not covered by the warranty and cannot be repaired. I would not recommend the iPad Pro to anyone who expects premium products to be at least as robust as the average tablet.


I accidentally sat on my 2017 iPad and bent it a bit. It was fairly easy to bend it back. Depending on the extent of the bend it might be possible to straighten these out as well. Of course this isn’t ideal, but it should be possible to create a procedure to iron out the bend.


Just bought a Pelican case for my work Macbook since I bike and have to travel with it. I'm so scared of liquid damage to the diagnostic port just inside the vent. All it takes is one drop to short and kill the MUX chip. Mac products are stupid fragile.


What backpack do you use? Both of my Timbuk2 bags have incredible water resistance. I've been out with them in dozens of thunderstorms - the kind where you get home and have to change out of all your clothes - and I haven't had so much as a notebook page get wet.


Just a speculation;

Apple must be working something really big for years with a lot of engineers shifted to that secret project. I am seeing lots of products not getting enough attention for the last 2-3 years.

- Safari is moving really slowly and not improved a lot except security-wise.

- iPhones haven't gotten a revolutionary feature for a long time.

- MacOS did not get significantly better comparing to last 3-4 years.

- Siri looks like a paused project.

and so on..


Occam's (and partially Hanlon's) razor says they're just not as competent any more, instead of having been working on a "secret" project for the last 3 years. It's sad since they were the first $T tech company.


Or just becoming bloated and complacent.


Very possible and I would be sad in that case.


I sometimes what would happen if the Samsung battery kind of issue happened with Apple. I'm sure that they would give some logic and majority of users would still accept it. For the most people at this point it seems it's not what apple did wrong, it's what I did to cause their product to fail.


"You're holding it wrong"


JeremyRigsEverything showed that you need substantial force to bent an iPad. Isn't this just a single batch that had some bad luck in the factory?


It didn't look very substantial in the video posted here earlier:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUBsxCcJeUc&t=385


I have seen that video. Look at the color of his thumbs as he bends the tablet, they are quite white so I think the force is larger than you think. Of course, without comparison, it is hard to tell.


Are you trolling? That person bends a $500 machine with 2 thumbs. This is unacceptable.




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