The Apple iPhone 6 Plus ‘BendGate’ Is Already Out of Control
My eyes were closed, but I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation of the four women next to me on the morning commuter train.
“Have you seen the iPhone 6?”
“I saw the iPhone 6 Plus.”
“It’s too large…and it bends.”
My eyes snapped open. In less than 24 hours, they had absorbed the hottest tech rumor: Apple’s new iPhone 6 Plus phablet bends.
Apple began shipping the device to customers and selling it in stores last Friday, and since then, some rumblings have appeared on social media that the 6.22-inch by 3.06-inch phablet had a propensity for bending — especially when placed in a pocket of tight pants for a long period of time.
In a now-famous YouTube video, Unbox Therapy demonstrated how the 7.1 mm thick device could bend with nothing but one’s bare hands. In the video, the device gives at what might be considered the weakest point: around the two volume control buttons, where the aluminum chassis is thinnest. I watched the video with a mixture of fascination (“Wow, look how far it can bend!”) and horror (“Why is he destroying his new iPhone 6 Plus?”).
With 5 million views and counting, the video has become a sensation, spawning multiple hashtags, including #BendGate and even #BendGhazi. It has also been picked up by virtually every major media outlet; no wonder my fellow commuters knew about it.
— Kas Thomas (@kasthomas) September 24, 2014
An (unbent) iPhone 6 Plus was sitting in my pocket, so I casually pulled it out and handed it to over to the women. They seemed startled, but didn’t hesitate to grab the new phone and check it out.
“Oh you have a case on it,” remarked one — as though that was the reason it wasn’t bent.
“Don’t worry, it doesn’t bend that easily,” I said. They spent the next few minutes passing the phone back and forth and asking me questions.
On the walk to work, I couldn’t stop thinking about #BendGate. Was my iPhone 6 Plus bent? Perhaps I hadn’t noticed. As soon as I got into the office, I took the phone out of its silicone case (which is very bendable) and placed the phone down on a flat surface. It looked perfectly flat.
— Lance Ulanoff (@LanceUlanoff) September 24, 2014
I don’t carry the iPhone 6 Plus in my back pocket; I’ve never carried a smartphone in my back pocket. I don’t wear tight pants. I have, obviously, seen many who do carry their phones in their back pockets, though, with pants so tight and pockets so small that even a tiny iPhone 4‘s top corner peeked over the top.
Putting other phones to the test
Pick up almost any phone that is 5 inches or larger, and you’ll be able to give it a good twist. (Even smaller ones have some flexibility, though it’s harder to gain the physical advantage necessary to do so.) The iPhone 6 Plus is thinner than most others on the market and its phablet category, which might put it at a disadvantage.
In a second video, from the YouTube channel Unboxing Therapy, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phablet was put to the bend test. As the host shows, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 bends a lot — but springs back into shape. In the video, the host proclaims that the Galaxy Note 3 “survives the exact same bend test that the iPhone 6 Plus failed,” which obviously cannot be proven.
I think I know why the Galaxy Note 3 held up better. At 8.3 mm, the Galaxy Note 3 is more than a millimeter thicker than the iPhone 6 Plus; it also has a metallic edge and plastic body. Apple’s choice of aluminum (even anodized, it’s a softer metal) is beneficial for weight, but may not be optimal for flexibility, so the results are not surprising.
On Wednesday morning, #BendGate was the No. 3 trending hashtag on Twitter, though it didn’t appear among the top trends on Facebook. Brandwatch reported that the iPhone 6 Plus bend issue had more than 57,000 online mentions in 24 hours.
On Twitter, I noticed a legion of Apple haters and defenders squaring up on opposite sides of the debate.
#bendgate is the most hilarious thing ever. It’s not an actual problem. I’d be willing to bet this happened to less than 100 owners.
— Jeremy Hischar (@Himynameishish) September 24, 2014
— What A Girl Wants (@Girlzwantz) September 24, 2014
Those repeating the original Unbox Therapy report boiled it down to one headline: The iPhone six is bending when you put it in your pocket. In reality, the story is much less hyperbolic. But many appear to have read no further than that inflated headline — and are resharing the same bent iPhone 6 Plus photos over and over again.
What I most love about #bendgate is that there is so many tweets and stories going around – but it’s the same 3 stories over and over.
— Anthony Maxwell (@WellMax81) September 24, 2014
Others find humor in the situation.
— Roger Sterling (@NYRogerSterling) September 24, 2014
In the meantime, Apple has remained mum on the topic. In the wake of 2010’s AntennaGate, an iPhone 4 connectivity issue that affected far more people, the late Steve Jobs responded to the public outcry. However, it seems unlikely that we’ll see Apple CEO Tim Cook make a similar move.
The company will likely have to say something, though. Too many media outlets are repeating an exaggerated version of the story; and too many consumers, like the women I met on the commuter train, are confused about the facts.
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