Will the iPhone Bend in Your Pocket?

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Just days after the new iPhones — the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus — started landing in people’s hands last week, the Internet exploded with conjecture that the new smartphones (and the ginormous iPhone 6 Plus in particular) are bending under the pressure of normal wear and tear from riding in people’s pockets. Everyone from Mashable to CBS News (and a thousand sites in between) rushed to show that the new iPhones might be bending unexpectedly.

And Samsung, which apparently considers itself locked in some sort of hand-to-hand battle to the death with Apple, has already rushed out ads capitalizing on “Bendgate.”

samsung-adSo, are the new iPhones really bending like soda cans? How much should you worry about this? Is this a massive design flaw?

Here’s the bottom line:

  • Yes, they can bend.
  • No, you shouldn’t worry about this.
  • And no, it’s not a massive design flaw.

Let’s do something that the Internet is not very good at — taking a deep breath and applying some common sense.

First of all, the iPhone 6 is a startlingly thin phone that’s made in large part from aluminum, which is a fairly soft metal. The iPhone 6 Plus is a “phablet” — a cross between a phone and a tablet and which has a gargantuan 5.5-inch display. If you apply sufficient stress to the phone, it will bend. There’s no question about it. So if you put it in your back pocket and sit on it, it’ll bend. If you put it in your front pocket and you have skinny jeans or tight pockets, just the stress of walking, sitting, dancing, and routine parkour can possibly make it bend, if you stress it enough. Funny story: In college, my roommate sat on his expensive programmable calculator. It didn’t bend; it snapped in half. So, don’t sit on it. Treat your phone with care. 

But… don’t worry about Bendgate. At the risk of offending some people, I will go out on a limb and say that if you are so careless with your iPhone that it gets bent after you read this post, you probably deserve what you get. The iPhone is clearly not indestructible, and now awareness has been raised about this terrible crisis. The remedy? Put your phone in a case. Don’t cram it into your skinny jeans. Don’t use it as a hot pad, coaster, or automotive chock. Treat your phone with care. 

And lastly, it’s not a design flaw, in the sense that Apple can’t be expected to make an indestructible phone out of a solid block of unobtanium.  Though not as well publicized, there have historically been issues with a slew of older phones bending as well. You can find examples of bent iPhone 5s, Samsung Galaxy S4s, and even BlackBerry Q10s, just to name a few. Bottom line: Treat your phone with care. 

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Don’t believe me? How about some real-world (albeit anecdotal) experiences? I surveyed my coworkers and found that a half-dozen people on the eHow team have new iPhones, and half of those people have the 6 Plus. After about a week with their new toys, no one reported the slightest hint of warps, bends, or bows, even though they occasionally get transported in front pockets.

And then there are “bend tests” being conducted on video — you can find numerous examples, like this one from Unbox Therapy — that show that yes, the iPhone 6 Plus bends. But the real takeaway from these videos is that it actually takes quite a bit of effort to do so.

Have you had any bad wear and tear experiences with a phone — iPhone or otherwise? Please tell me about it in the comments.

Photo credits: Unbox Therapy, Samsung, Florian Paulmier (via Twitter)

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