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Consumer Reports Tests iPhone 6 Plus Bending

Intrigued by reports stating how bendable the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus can be, a team at Consumer Reports decided to test the phones for themselves. The result? These two devices aren't quite as delicate as the earlier "#bendgate," reports stated.

In a report posted on Friday, the team used a "three-point flexural test," which consists of two blocks to hold up the phone on each end and a high-precision Instron compression test machine to apply pressure against the middle of the phone.

"We started light, applying 10 pounds of force for 30 seconds, then releasing the force," Consumer Reports said. "Then we increased the force in 10-pound increments, noted when the phones first started to deform (that's what our engineers call it) and stopped the test for each phone when we saw the screen come loose from the case."

According to the test results, the iPhone 6 Plus began to deform at 90 pounds of pressure and break apart at 110 pounds of pressure. The smaller iPhone 6 wasn't quite as tough, deforming at 70 pounds and coming apart at 100 pounds of force. Keep in mind that around 55 pounds of force can break three stacked pencils.

Consumer Reports also tested other phones for comparison. The HTC One began to deform at 70 pounds and break away from the casing at 90 pounds. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was the toughest of the bunch, deforming and breaking at 150 pounds. The iPhone 5 was even stronger than the new iPhones, with 130 pounds of pressure deforming the gadget and 150 pounds of pressure causing the case to break away.

The test also revealed that the LG G3 began to deform at 130 pounds and break away from the casing at 130 pounds. This phone, along with the Galaxy Note 3, were able to completely recover at each 10 pound increment until the case fractured on the G3 (130 pounds) and the screen splintered on the Note 3 (150 pounds).

"Based on our comparative tests here at Consumer Reports, while not the strongest phones on the market, fears of a serious structural design flaw in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus seem overblown," the Consumer Reports team said.

Reports of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus bending inside of people's pockets began to surface last week, as did a viral video (below) showing Lewis of Unbox Therapy bending the phone with his bare hands. Apple fired back at the reports, stating that a bending iPhone is extremely rare, and that during the first six days of sale, only nine customers contacted Apple about having a bent iPhone 6 Plus.

The company also said that it performs "rigorous" tests throughout the developmental process. This includes user studies, 3-point bending, pressure point cycling, sit and torsion.

"iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus meet or exceed all of our high quality standards to endure every day, real life use," a statement from Apple said.

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  • therogerwilco
    It's old news. Of course Apple users want to hear it's nothing.

    The fact remains they've skimped on structural integrity and because of the materials used, the phone stays bent. (unlike other phones that can bend, but don't keep the bent shape)
    Reply
  • pills161
    While I'm not a fan of Apple, I think the report stating the problem is overblown is spot on. The amount of pressure needed to bend the phone is far beyond what would be normal use in someones pocket, and I figured there is no way Apple would make such a phone without going through extensive durability tests and real life trials to make sure it would stand up. With the millions they have sold there are only a fraction that have bent, which seems normal for just about any product.
    Reply
  • condorxiii
    It's old news. Of course Apple users want to hear it's nothing.

    The fact remains they've skimped on structural integrity and because of the materials used, the phone stays bent. (unlike other phones that can bend, but don't keep the bent shape)

    'Skimp' might not be the right word, but chose to leave out some structural rigidity to allow for a thinner phone. But it is confusing because I didn't hear any iPhone 5 or 5S users saying the phone was too thick, not sure where the necessity of change came from.
    Reply
  • livewires
    I think that the Consumer Reports test was not accurate. It applied the force evenly across then phone in an attempt to bend it in half. This would take more force than applying the force directly to a smaller area near the edge as done in the original video and this one which was performed in the open with witnesses. The phone bends way too easy for my taste and I own an iPhone 5S.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ3Ds6uf0Yg
    Reply
  • Chris Droste
    all the tests that downplay the issues are all trying to apply force to the center of the phone, when in the videos and pictures it's quite clear that the point of bending is where the sidestructure has holes in it to allow for the buttons. this is a case of the phone got bent, and could MUCH more EASILY be bent when force is applied across the upper third of the body. other phones in the class and even the older iPhone5 do not suffer from this "weak spot" in their structure. These "Consumer Reports" (if you want to trust them) are quite likely bias and do not fairly represent the -ACTUAL- problem with the iPhone 6's structure.
    Reply
  • timf79
    Since the phone is aluminum, which can be a soft metal (depending on the mix) and we are hearing about bending in pockets, I would think that the test would need to be done when the phone is at (or above) body temperature.
    As a Lumia 1520 user, I carry my phone in cargo pockets...
    Reply
  • applegetsmelaid
    I've worked in tech support for 12 years, and have supported mobile devices of all sorts. I would assess warranty claims, and also process claims for people who purchased additional accidental coverage for structural or liquid damage.

    Never once, in 12 years, have I ever seen a device bent. I've seen them run over by cars, stepped on, dropped, thrown, you name it. Never once was the device brought to the shop in a bent fashion - usually just cracks and chips.

    I would say that if a mobile device were to bend, it would solely be intentional. And if you are careless enough to do so, then you don't deserve to own the device.
    Reply
  • SirTrollsALot
    Such a world issue. Hopefully Hong Kong with prevail with it pro democracy rallies, and main land China will follow... Then all your stupid devices will cost 1000% more and then our "wonderful" American companies will start having African nations manufacture our must have devices! Then who know Ebola might take over the world!
    Reply
  • Solandri
    14274450 said:
    While I'm not a fan of Apple, I think the report stating the problem is overblown is spot on. The amount of pressure needed to bend the phone is far beyond what would be normal use in someones pocket, and I figured there is no way Apple would make such a phone without going through extensive durability tests and real life trials to make sure it would stand up.
    I'm a structural engineer. Consumer Reports tested the phones in a simply supported beam configuration - supports at the two ends, pushing down in the middle. The 90 pounds they measured to bend the iPhone 6 (70 for the 6+) is thus actually double the force needed to bend the phone. Basically, the right half is offering 45 pounds of resistance, the left half 45 pounds of resistance, and together they add up to 90 pounds of resistance.

    If you place the phone in a cantilever configuration (e.g. one half held firmly in place by your butt, the other half free-floating and pressed upon by the back of a seat), by CR's test only 45 or 35 pounds of force against the seat is needed to bend the phone. Based on those forces, I'd say the problem is not at all overblown.
    Reply
  • house70
    14274450 said:
    While I'm not a fan of Apple, I think the report stating the problem is overblown is spot on. The amount of pressure needed to bend the phone is far beyond what would be normal use in someones pocket, and I figured there is no way Apple would make such a phone without going through extensive durability tests and real life trials to make sure it would stand up.
    I'm a structural engineer. Consumer Reports tested the phones in a simply supported beam configuration - supports at the two ends, pushing down in the middle. The 90 pounds they measured to bend the iPhone 6 (70 for the 6+) is thus actually double the force needed to bend the phone. Basically, the right half is offering 45 pounds of resistance, the left half 45 pounds of resistance, and together they add up to 90 pounds of resistance.

    If you place the phone in a cantilever configuration (e.g. one half held firmly in place by your butt, the other half free-floating and pressed upon by the back of a seat), by CR's test only 45 or 35 pounds of force against the seat is needed to bend the phone. Based on those forces, I'd say the problem is not at all overblown.
    CR missed another point: the bend occurs at the weak button level, not in the center of the frame. Unfortunately for Apple's customers that have noticed the bend already, the phone does not choose to place itself in the pocket specifically with the center in the pressure point; it will arrange itself haphazardly, and if you're unlucky enough to put pressure on the weakest part of the frame, you're toast (well, the phone is).
    There are reviewers online that have noticed the bend appearing after only a few days of light, pocket use of the phone. Bent enough as to wobble when placed on a flat surface. I am willing to bet anything that a lot more customers have experienced this than what Apple is trying to say they have, and most of them just considered it negligible (or maybe, a new feature) and not worth reporting. Also, quite a lot of these people probably rushed to the nearest flat surface and did the test themselves after reading these reviews.
    Bottom line is, using beer-can aluminum on a phone in order to cheap out on components and make an extra buck never works out in real world, unless you have customers that are gullible enough to give you (yet) another pass. To each his/her own.
    Reply