Just a few hours ago, we started hearing reports that a small sampling of iPhone 6 Plus owners have experienced a slight bend to their phone after putting the device in their front pockets. And now, here's what appears to be video proof that—yep, this smartphone sure can bend. Although it sure takes some effort.
Lou from Unbox Therapy puts the rumors to the test with his bare hands, and though it clearly takes quite a bit of force, he is able to give that handset one hell of an angle. The glass hangs in there, so it's still functional. And while it's clearly not something that will happen with normal use, the fact that it could happen at all is a bit concerning.
According to experts, though, it probably shouldn't be surprising. As Jeremy Irons, a Design Engineer at Creative Engineering explained:
From an engineering standpoint, the iPhone is an amazingly small and delicately constructed device. The only thing really contributing to the structural integrity of the iPhone 6 Plus is the thin aluminum frame that covers the back and reaches around the sides. There is also another very thin piece of steel behind the glass, but we are not working with much as far as bending strength.
Here's that oh-so-thin piece of steel from iFixit's iPhone 6 Plus teardown:
But according to Irons, that's not going to be quite enough to make up for the strength lost to thinness:
Previous iPhones were thicker and not as long. In material bending, larger cross sectional areas (thickness x width) and shorter lengths make things stronger (You can't easily bend a cube), while the opposite makes things very easy to bend (paper is easily folded). The increased length and decreased thickness contribute to the weakness of the new iPhone. Strength is proportionally related to length, but strength is affected much more by changes in thickness.
All other things being equal, this 0.5 mm change in thickness greatly affects the bending strength. While the iPhone 5S was only 7% thicker than the iPhone 6 Plus, it was actually 22% stronger in bending. When you make something longer, it gets proportionally more bendable, when you make it thinner, it gets a lot more bendable.
Still, it's important to note that, though extreme in this case, a slight bending with use isn't all that uncommon, as Irons emphasizes:
As a disclaimer, we know nothing about the intricacies of the iPhone and this is just speculation based on our engineering knowledge. I read that phones often become bent during use and the pictures that are surfacing may only be from extreme cases, and not an actual defect in the product.
We've reached out to Apple for comment on the issue and will update as soon as we hear back. [Thanks Lewis!]