BendGate Highlights Why A Metal Body Does Not Equate To “Better Build Quality”

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This post was published 7 years, 1 month ago. Due to the rapidly evolving world of technology, some material it contains may no longer be applicable.

 

Unless you’ve been living in a hole the last few weeks you will have most probably heard about the latest iThing. You will most likely also have heard that some users have been having issues with the 6 Plus bending in people’s pockets due to Apple’s decision to make such a large and thin body out of soft aluminium without any reinforcement.

What initially started out as just a handful of users complaining about bent devices totally went viral after YouTube channel Unbox Therapy posted a “bend test” video of the iPhone 6 Plus showing just how easy it is to bend. If you haven’t already seen this video you can take a look below.

 

After this was posted many Apple fans cried out to defend the product stating the test was silly and that any phone would bend if such a force was applied to it. Unfortunately for Apple and 6 Plus owners this turned out not to be the case with the test being repeated on a handful of Android and Windows Phone handsets and no such issues were found. Even other aluminium phones such as the HTC One M8 did not bend at all.

A couple of other phone models were found to bend (although not as easily as the 6 Plus) but these were also Apple devices and include the iPhone 5, 5s and 6. So it is fair to say, so far at least, that this is a problem primarily with the iPhone’s construction and not other phones.

The reason for this is actually quite simple. Most phones are kept nice and solid by a magnesium frame on the inside which protects them nicely. Magnesium is strong and provides rigidity and structural integrity to the device. This is the case for many phones with both aluminium and plastic outer-bodys and seems to be pretty standard even on budget devices like the Moto G.

However, iPhones do not have this magnesium chassis nor any other form of reinforcement. Instead Apple opted to just have an external aluminium unibody without any such additional strengthening. This was likely done to keep manufacturing costs low but it means that the integrity of the phone is entirely dependent on alumium which is actually a pretty soft material and is very malleable.

On iPhone models where the phone has a small area and is thicker, this is less likely to be a problem. However once you start thinning the phone and making it larger, you start to lose a lot of strength to the point where it would seem the device is so weak it can bend just from the stresses of being in your front pocket.

This has become a point of ridicule as Apple fans often praise the iPhone for having superior build quality than devices from other manufacturers, mainly because of their use of an aluminium unibody. However what this issue highlights is something that more knowledgable people have known for sometime: simply making a phone out of metal doesn’t make it “better built” or “more premium”. In fact in this case, the build quality of the iPhone 6 Plus, a device which costs almost £800, is arguably worse than the £80 Motorola Moto E.

Naturally this is not the only indicator of good build quality, but the point it demonstrates is that having an alumium body does not automatically mean a device is well-built and despite the praise the iPhone often receives for its build quality, it is actually not an especially well-built device.

If you want to see what happens when you try to bend a well-built device check out one of the follow-up tests below.

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