User reports and fears that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus phones are bending in trouser pockets are overblown, according to independent testing by the US non-profit Consumer Reports.
In fact, its tests found that HTC’s One M8 phone bent under the same force as the iPhone 6 - and that the “phablet-size” iPhone 6 Plus was stronger than both. The tests showed, though, that the new phones are substantially less strong than 2012’s iPhone 5, whose body is also used in 2013’s iPhone 5S.
Consumer Reports tested the iPhone 6, 6 Plus and iPhone 5 against the LG G3, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and HTC One M8 using a compression testing machine to apply a “three-point flexural test”, where a metered force is applied to the centre of the phone while it is supported at each end.
It concluded that “while nothing is (evidently) indestructible, we expect that any of these phones should stand up to typical use.”
It found that the 4.7in iPhone 6, which is 7.1mm thick, would show permanent bending with the equivalent of a 70lb (31.8kg) weight placed on the centre of its back. The 5.5in iPhone 6 Plus deformed at 90lbs, and the 4in iPhone 5 - which is 7.6mm thick - at 130lbs.
The 5in HTC One M8 also bends under a 70lbs weight, and its case separated at 90lb, while the iPhone 6 resisted to 100lb.
The 5.5in LG G3 resisted bending up to 130lbs, the same as the iPhone 5, and the 5.7in Samsung Galaxy Note 3 150lbs.
“While not the strongest smartphones on the market, fears of a serious structural design flaw in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus seem overblown,” explained Glenn Derene, electronics editor for Consumer Reports in a video of the tests.
Most of the phones continued to work after deforming, and required an extra 20 to 30lbs to bend enough to separate the screen from the phone’s case.
Apple tests its smartphones using a similar method to Consumer Reports by applying 55lbs of weight to the back of the phones to test resilience to bending, or approximately the weight required to break three ordinary pencils.
Apple said that it only received nine complaints about iPhone 6 Plus phones bending and that it tested 15,000 smartphones during its own investigations.
Previous smartphone tests, which showed the iPhone 6 Plus bending, have used a a less scientific method, with a reviewer applying pressure manually with thumbs pushed into the back of phones.
‘I have a bent iPhone 6 Plus’
Initial reports by users of bending iPhone 6 Plus phones were followed up by video tests displaying a bent 6 Plus. Some reviewers of the smartphone have also found that their iPhone 6 Plus phones were either bent initially or bent during the course of their testing. The Guardian has not seen bending during testing of the iPhone 6 Plus, though it was not carried in trouser pockets.
“Like a lot of people, I have a bent iPhone 6 Plus. It’s almost imperceptible, but it’s there: a slight warp right at the buttons on the side. Put the phone screen down on a table, and it wobbles,” said Mat Hohan in a review of the iPhone 6 Plus for Wired. “I haven’t purposefully bent it and I don’t recall sitting on it (but I probably have).”
How many iPhone 6 Plus phones have been bent in users’ pockets is still unknown. Apple claims that it is not an issue for normal use, but phones from other manufactures have suffered similar bending issues.
As smartphones become thinner and longer with bigger screens, their relative strength decreases while the force applied to them inside pockets can increase due to a lever effect.
This article was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Monday 29th September 2014 21.05 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010