/ Technology

‘Bendy’ iPhone 6: who’s to blame?

iPhone in pocket

Not another ‘gate’. The iPhone 4 had ‘antenna-gate’ and the iPhone 6 has been struck with the moniker ‘bend-gate’. So if your iPhone 6 Plus has bent in your pocket, are you entitled to a refund? That depends…

Earlier in the week, a smattering of iPhone 6 Plus owners (that’s the massive 5.5’’ one) started reporting that their new phones had bent out of shape during normal use. One owner, who kept his iPhone in his front trouser pocket, spotted that his phone was bent when he ‘saw the reflection of the window in the iPhones slightly distorted’.

Bent iPhones extremely rare, says Apple

As the week went on the story started to roll out of control, with some YouTubers producing videos to demonstrate that the iPhone was indeed bendy. Apple has now come out in defense, saying that:

‘With normal use a bend in iPhone is extremely rare and through our first six days of sale, a total of nine customers have contacted Apple with a bent iPhone 6 Plus. As with any Apple product, if you have questions please contact Apple.’

Is a bend to be expected in such a big phone that’s just 7.1mm thick? Some point to the phone being made of aluminium, which is a relatively soft and flexible material. However, Apple has explained that the aluminium is ‘tempered for extra strength’ and ‘features stainless steel and titanium inserts’ to improve its strength and durability. Apple adds:

‘iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus meet or exceed all of our high quality standards to endure everyday, real life use.’

Can I return my bent iPhone 6?

So, if you’ve bent your iPhone 6, are you entitled to a refund? Any claim would need to be argued on the basis that the phone wasn’t of satisfactory quality and would be against the party that supplied it. You would then need to reject and return the phone within a reasonable time after purchase, usually three to four weeks.

And within the first six months of buying the product, it’s up to the retailer to prove that the goods were of satisfactory quality rather than you having to show that they weren’t.

If your iPhone 6 wasn’t of satisfactory quality and it’s too late to reject it, you still have the right to get the phone replaced or repaired. Since a bend might be a little difficult to repair, chances are you’d be looking at a replacement.

Will Apple’s warranty help?

You could also lean on Apple’s warranty, but it’s unclear whether a bent phone will be covered. An Apple support representative has said in response:

‘There is a test called a Visual Mechanical Inspection that the device will have to pass. If it is within the guidelines, they will be able to cover it. If not, the replacement would be a paid one.’

If bent iPhone 6s start to become more common, which Apple claims is unlikely, you might like to store your new phone in your coat pocket or a bag instead of your trousers. Buying a case for your iPhone 6 Plus might also be a good idea.

Have you bought the new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus? Has it bent in your pocket? And if you don’t own one, have you experienced anything similar with another smartphone?

Comments

It amazes me how little care many people take of their phones. Large thin smartphones are obviously more vulnerable than the small mobiles that most of us started with.

paulyb says:
27 September 2014

I agree, cars dent went lent on, but you wouldn’t take it back and get a panel replaced if you knocked it, would you? If “yes”, please tell me which car and I’ll go out and buy it!

Sophie Gilbert says:
27 September 2014

On the same note, aren’t people who carry phones in their front or back pockets worried about getting them nicked or losing them as well? I noticed a chappie in the bus once talking to his wife and kid in the seat in front him and often taking his phone out of his back pocket, checking it and putting it back in. They left the bus sometime before me and when it was time for me to go too I noticed the phone on his seat. I handed it to the bus driver, who groaned as if it were a common occurrence… Why indeed don’t people look after their equipment better?

CrankParent says:
26 September 2014

Maybe look after your expensive purchase a little better?

http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/09/25/apple-takes-reporters-on-tour-of-iphone-test-facility-to-address-bendgate-dust-up?utm_content=bufferb884a&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

“Re/code was also invited on the tour and reports seeing four tests in action, including a sit test, pressure point test, torsion test and three-point bend test, the latter of which proves iPhone 6 can carry at least 25 kilograms of weight focused on the center of the device. The 6 can actually withstand more pressure, but Apple declined to offer specific numbers.”

“The iPhone 5 had ‘antenna-gate’” – No, that was the iPhone 4, which was 27 months before the iPhone 5. I distinctly remember discovering this fault with the iPhone 4 on 24/06/2010 before it was reported by the media. The problem with the iPhone 5 was the lack of proper 4G support.

Back to the point – if you sit on a phone, don’t expect it to remain intact. It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s in a pocket or not. If you sit on it, it risks deformation. Common sense.

Are Samsung not about due to release a flexible phone that hit the news last year? I like the idea of turning a problem into a feature.

To be serious, do other brands of phone of the similar size to the new iPhone have a problem with bending or are they stronger or thicker?

Thanks Patrick. It looks as if the phones tested are really quite tough. What I had in mind was phones that were intended to be flexible, or was that an April Fool’s joke?

Make a positive out of a negative... says:
27 September 2014

Rename it the iPhone Flex 6+ . Got to hand it to apple, they are marketeers supreme. They have done a fine job of convincing folk to queue up in their millions for the privilege of purchasing a flawed phone that by any sane measure is way over priced. The phone is literally a few days old and which? are advising consumers of their rights. You couldn’t make it up. Really.

Paul says:
2 October 2014

People are far too quick to judge, place blame and jump on the bandwagon these days. There is no real proof that the iPhone 6 Plus is ‘flawed’. After every major manufacturer releasing a new phone, stories are always quick to circulate – “my phone burst into flames” or “my charger exploded”. These ‘stories’ then turn out to be owner error rather than a fault of the manufacturer. Let’s gather the facts before we judge!

I agree that some people are just waiting to criticise new products, especially with popular items such as phones. Nevertheless there are a few problems. I had a cheap Nokia phone that contained a battery that was recalled for safety reasons. I received a replacement battery very promptly.

The problems with phone chargers have generally been with cheap counterfeit products.

Bendgate is real. Watch the strength test video on Youtube.

Sorry but are all wrong. We should look after our expensive phones? No. Apple should look after our expensive phones and make them stronger. The should be able to handle more pressure. Just because you all do nothing exciting with your lives, your phones don’t go through much, but others do. My iPhone 6 (not plus) bent when I leaned on something and my pocket pressed against it. I demanded them to replace it and it was. I have never broken a phone in my life, never smashed a screen, NEVER had a stupid case. So explain that you silly fools.

Glenn says:
19 July 2019

This happened to me after owning the phone for 3 and 1/2 years. I am disappointed that this forum hasn’t answered the question asked, should iphone replace the phone. I had to purchase a replacement at a greatly reduced rate but I believe the product should conform to consumer law and be good for 5 years. When it comes to replacing my present phone, I won’t be buying Apple again as their customer care is atrocious. If they had bitten the bullet and replaced these bent phones I would have been loyal but they have made it obvious they don’t care about their customers, they don’t care about their third world staff and they don’t care about their public image. This is the beginning of the end for Apple, in 10 years time I believe we will be watching documentaries Whatever Happened to Apple.

There are some of us on here who have had Apple repair and replace products well into the 5th year of use. I had this with a laptop (after four years) and one of the early iPods (after five years) so your experience with Apple is not typical.

I have always found them as a company to be one of the best with regard to product repair and replacement, on the rare times when any of our Apple products have actually needed it.

DerekP says:
20 July 2019

Bendgate has become a well known issue for iphone 6’s – e.g. see this-https://www.ifixit.com/News/iphone-6-plus-gray-flicker-touch-death

and/or more recent comments from 3rd party repair experts, including, of course, Jessa Jones and Louis Rossman.

Maybe Apple and other manufacturers should provide a warning not to put large thin phones in a back pocket or otherwise abuse them or maybe sell titanium protective cases. Neither a manufacturer’s guarantee nor the Consumer Rights Act offer remedies in the case of abuse. Maybe accidental damage cover is the solution.

I recognise that Apple products are not rugged and handle them with care.

DerekP says:
20 July 2019

According to many of Louis Rossman’s YouTube rants (sorry I meant education videos), Apple and their fans often engage in “victim shaming” where they suggest that common failures are down to customers misusing the product rather than due to Apple having produced a poor design of product.

As far as bendgate is concerned, I think it is a matter of record that the poor internal design of the iPhone 6 is to blame for this. For example, I’ve seen it argued that competing phones from Samsung did not suffer similar problems.

Having (very briefly) owned a polycarbonate iMac, I’ve seen Apple’s poor design first hand there.

As far as I know, the ‘poor design’ still exists in later iPhones and there are Samsung and other phones that can be bent too. I would have thought it was fairly obvious that a large thin phone needs to be afforded a little care, and not stuffed in a back pocket and sat on. If you are going to abuse your phone then it might be worth looking for models that are best able to survive bending.

As well as providing a warning that a thin phone may bend if you sit on it, it might be worth warning that the screen may crack if dropped on a hard surface and that the options are accidental damage insurance or a case.

DerekP says:
21 July 2019

wavechange, I believe there are specific design defects on the iphone 6 motherboards that rendered them prone to fatigue damage over time.

Blaming those design defects on owners carrying their phones in back pockets is a classic example of the victim shaming I was referring to.

But in other aspects, the iphone 6 and 6s are superior to, for example, the iphone 8. To allow wireless charging, the latter has a glass back (as well as the expected glass front), making them far less rugged overall than an iphone 6.

As far as I know (and I know even less about Samsung phones than I do about Apple phones) Samsung phones don’t really have a bendgate as such. Instead they had their own special “batterygate”…

It’s a while since I read about the problem and I’m happy to look at the evidence, Derek.

In the meantime, is it victim shaming to blame smartphone owners for breaking their screens by dropping their phone? Is it victim shaming to suggest that those with low-profile tyres may share part of the responsibility for damage to their car when driving on our less than perfect roads?

I don’t have a new-fangled iPhone 6 or other thin phone, but it just seems fairly logical that they need to be handled with care. I take your point about the potential of a glass back panel adding to fragility in later models and wonder if the frame has been modified to compensate by adding rigidity.

Although I have had superb reliability from Apple products and like Ian have had good customer support, I’m honestly no Apple fan. I have discussed certain aspects of poor design on W?C. For example Apple led the way with built-in rather than user-replaceable batteries in its products and have pointed out the poor design of their laptop chargers, where the lead often fractures near the power connector. It took years for Apple to resolve this by switching to a replaceable cable with a USB-C connector at both ends, so that users don’t have to pay as much as £85 for a new power supply.

Yep; that last was a specific irritant for us, as my wife uses a Macbook Pro, and had at least two fractures of the kind you describe. Apple replaced them for free, as it happens, but the breakage was still inconvenient.

Most recently, of course, they’ve backtracked on the design of their extremely powerful desktop Mac Pro, the delightfully compact cylinder. I have that model and, to be fair, it happily runs 25Gb of SSD storage at a fifteen foot distance, so it’s literally totally silent. However, the lack of upgradability means it can’t be fitted with the latest spec Thunderbolt, nor USB 4 (if it arrives) so they’ve reverted to the aluminium cuboid of old.

I suspect Apple has a more design-conscious clientele than other manufacturers and I have to say that its GUI overall has remained remarkably consistent through 13 evolutions of the OS.