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Bend in like Apple!

 Apple attempts to straighten an ecosystem of irate social media enthusiasts who are using a freak phenomenon of the new iPhone 6, as fodder for more than a few laughs
By Anand Parthasarathy
Social media sites were ablaze last week with  tweets, posts and images  from early customers of the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, who found that their phones  had acquired a slight curvature after a few days.  One YouTube video  --  IPhone 6  Plus Bend Test-- in particular showing an owner trying to check the bending complaints by   deliberately bending an iPhone 6 Plus. He concluded that it didn't need too  much force to  bend it.

That video went viral -- and  it transpired that the bend or warp occurred when owners carried the  phone in  the front  pockets of tight fitting jeans. When you sit down, your body  at the hips and the phone seemingly bent to accommodate your contour. The same thing happened when owners placed  their phones in their hip pockets.   The  phenomenon was unsurprisingly,  more common with the iPhone 6 plus -- the larger model with  a 5.5 inch screen.  Both models are  much thinner than earlier iPhones --  just  6.9 and 7.1 mm  -- and being   made of aluminium ( except for the glass screen) they do tend to bend by default. 

Apple claims that  the phones are encased in "custom grade of 6000 series anodized aluminum, which is tempered for extra strength, combined with stainless steel and titanium inserts to reinforce high stress locations".  After 3 days of silence, the company responded: "With normal use a bend in iPhone is extremely rare and through our first six days of sale, a total of nine customers have contacted Apple with a bent iPhone 6 Plus."

So were all those thousands of tweets at #bendgate   and the dozens of videos at YouTube of  users bending their phones in the interests of (costly!) research, just social media frenzy?  The respected Consumer Reports  site  tested  the iPhone 6  by applying   25 to 50 kg of   bending force before breaking them  and concluded:"iPhone 6 and 6 Plus not as bendy as believed".  Apple is being rather  less than forthcoming and  has been quoted in US media saying that Apple Stores would perform a "visual mechanical inspection" if a customer brought in a bent phone to decide if it was eligible for replacement under warranty. They don't disclose what  the inspection  includes.

The paying public is clearly  not happy and  is asking  why the premium it pays to acquire an iPhone doesn't translate into Apple's legendary quality  and  carrying the phone in your pocket  somehow constitutes misuse.

Meanwhile Apple's competitors are having a field day touting  their  non bending models. Samsung Galaxy Note Edge  now has a new tag line: "Curved. Not Bent".  Galaxy Alpha, even slimmer than  iPhone 6  boasts: "Galaxy Alpha + Skinny Jeans = no problem".  HTC  is tweeting about the HTC OneM8: " Designed to withstand the most demanding environments. Like Your pockets".   And LG which launched the world's first flexible  phone, the G Flex, is  now able to say: "Our phone doesn't bend, it flexes.. on purpose".

Going by past experience, when it just ignored similar complaints, albeit more muted, about the iPhone 5, It is unlikely that Apple  will make any change  in response to   Bendgate.  
The new phones will reach India officially  on October 7 and are expected to cost upwards of   Rs 50,000. They are already being offered by unofficial online sellers for Rs 1 lakh. At those prices one is expected to be reverential with an iPhone 6 and not do anything as mundane as slipping it into a jeans pocket.  Better change over to loose-fitting  slacks -- or buy a hard case for your iPhone. Even better, go back to the days of slinging it around your neck, with a lanyard.