Some customers are bent out of shape after Apple's big iPhone launch

The Takeaway
Michele Mattana of Sardinia, Italy, poses with an iPhone 6 Plus and an iPhone 6 on the first day of sales at the Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan on September 19, 2014.
Michele Mattana of Sardinia, Italy, poses with an iPhone 6 Plus and an iPhone 6 on the first day of sales at the Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan on September 19, 2014.

Adrees Latif/Reuters

It's been a rotten month for Apple: First iCloud was hacked, then there were problems with the latest iOS 8 update — and now, some of the people to whom Apple sold 10 million new iPhone 6s complain that it doesn't take much for the ultra-thin device to bend and crack.

So despite the iPhone 6 being the most-sold phone in the history of smartphones, people are wondering: Is it worth shelling out hundreds of dollars for a phone that bends just from being in your pocket?

“Apple always makes their iPhones thinner and lighter, and with this larger one, maybe it’s too thin and too light,” says Bridget Carey, a senior editor at CNET. “It’s made of aluminum, and unlike a plastic phone, it’s not going to bounce back.”

Several owners of the iPhone 6 Plus — that's the bigger version with the 5.5-inch screen — have reported that their devices have a certain amount of unwanted flexibility. After sitting down with the phone in a front or back pants pocket, the iPhone 6 Plus comes out a bit warped.

It doesn’t look like it takes much to bend the device, as YouTube videomakers have gleefully shown. But Apple said in a statement on Thursday that both the iPhone 6 Plus and its smaller sister "meet or exceed all of our high quality standards to endure everyday, real life use." It called bending "extremely rare" and said only nine customers had reported such problems to Apple. 

While Apple is still a favorite among many consumers, Carey says this latest episode may tarnish the revered brand’s reputation a bit.

“When people are putting [the iPhone] in their pockets and it’s happening, I kind of look at that and think, why would you want a phone that’s even more breakable?” Carey says. “We’re always worried about having a phone that we can accidentally smash, now it’s about being fragile?”

And while videos showing the flexibility of the new iPhone seem to be all in fun, Carey points out there are some real risks to a bendable device. “It’s not a joke,” she says. “When you’re really trying to bend a phone, if you mess with the battery, there are warnings that it could explode.”

Carey points out that a similiar Android phone, the well-reviewed HTC One M8, is also made with aluminum but doesn’t appear to bend with the same amount of force. “It’ll be interesting if Apple, on the next try, changes something,” she says. “There is actually a part of the new iPhone that’s a weak spot: The Apple logo itself.”

Carey says that the aluminum backing coupled with the cut-out of the Apple logo has created a sort of “sweet spot where it is more susceptible to being bent.”

And though America’s social media feeds are currently overrun with posts and pictures of bending iPhones, Carey believes that the controversies won’t hurt the company too much in the long run. Consumers and Apple fanatics, she says, will probably get over “bendgate" soon.

This story originally aired on PRI's The Takeaway, a public radio program that invites you to be part of the American conversation.

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