Reports of ever-so-slightly bent 2018 iPad Pros surfaced shortly after their release, with some users claiming that they’d received the product bent straight out of the box. In response to those reports, Apple claimed in December that the issue resulted from the cooling process involved with some of its components and suggested to the Verge that it wasn’t a defect.
The Verge reported Saturday that Apple published a support page late Friday explaining the manufacturing process behind its newer iPad models and the slight bends that the company claims are basically a non-issue that won’t affect functionality. Apple said that this process, combined with antenna “splits” for cellar function, may result in “subtle deviations in flatness more visible only from certain viewing angles that are imperceptible during normal use”:
To provide optimal cellular performance, small vertical bands or “splits” in the sides of the iPad allow parts of the enclosure to function as cellular antennas. For the first time ever on an iPad, these bands are manufactured using a process called co-molding. In this high-temperature process, plastic is injected into precisely milled channels in the aluminum enclosure where it bonds to micro-pores in the aluminum surface. After the plastic cools, the entire enclosure is finished with a precision CNC machining operation, yielding a seamless integration of plastic and aluminum into a single, strong enclosure.
Apple goes on to claim that its new manufacturing techniques set a new bar for flatness that “allows for no more than 400 microns of deviation across the length of any side,” or roughly the thickness of four stacked sheets of paper. Interestingly, as the Verge notes, Apple doesn’t include any images in the advisory about what “400 microns of deviation” looks like.
Previously, there was no clear course of action for what Apple customers should do if they were shipped a bent iPad Pro, or whether they were entitled to a return; that still mostly remains the case. But in its note on Friday, the company does point customers who believe their products do not meet its specification—i.e. the 400-micron deviation—to contact Apple support.
As Gizmodo previously reported, this issue was particularly irksome in context of the fact that the iPad Pro’s new enclosure was touted as revolutionary for its thinness. And whether or not an iPad Pro bends to the extent exhibited by Zack Nelson in his viral JerryRigEverything review, one would hope that a product potentially running customers more than $1,000 doesn’t come bent straight out of the packaging.