This one single image and what it represents has managed to spark a firestorm that set the tech world ablaze for the last several days. If you have had the misfortune of being on websites such as Twitter, Facebook or even comment sections of Youtube, then you’ll notice frantic comments for and against the legitimacy of this image. It’s a screenshot from a Youtube video allegedly showing the ease at which the new iPhone 6 Plus can be bent. For the sake of transparency, I’m an Android user with a Galaxy S4 and I use Windows 7. My intention is to give an honest impression of this fiasco based on the developments available as of September 28th, 2014th.
Disregarding the bend rumors for a moment, the iOS 8.0.1 release on September 24th was an objective disaster for Apple on all fronts. The update removed the ability for the iPhone to function as a phone entirely with one’s cellular service. A rushed iOS 8.0.2 patch resolved the issue, so the damage this time was merely akin to rewatching this year’s Apple Conference with the dual audio and connection timeouts. Recall that the big feature of the new OS is a potential replacement for the traditional wallet in the form of ‘Apple Pay’. Chaos theory now suggests the inevitability of an incident where a faulty Apple update affects the world economy. That might just be a bit of sensationalist humor seeping through. Hopefully, these recent incidents may turn out to be the ‘Lion King for Windows 95-like’ incident that leads to a future standard such as Direct X. (If the reference is lost on you, Microsoft didn’t have standardized graphics drivers until an incident in 1995 where a Lion King game wasn’t tested with a widely advertised Compaq Win 95 computer of the time and constantly crashed.)
The origin of #bendgate as a social media phenomenon lies in this unboxingtherapy video posted on September 23rd, 2014. The video has garnered over 44 million views and international debate about its legitimacy with vocal Apple die-hards denying the video as a hoax. The accusations of shoddy build quality sparked Consumer Reports to conduct formal tests on the amount of pressure necessary to deform and then ultimately break the iPhone 6/Plus and comparable phones. Here is their report and results.
The Consumer Reports findings finally allow for some objective numbers to be used without either side needing to speculate about necessary force. Instead of speculating on the lifting capacity of Lewis Hilsenteger in the Unboxing Therapy video, the generation gap in the Apple products will be the focus. As the tests show, the iPhone 5 has almost twice the durability of the stock iPhone 6 and it still significantly outlasts the premiere Plus variant. The important thing to consider for a moment is that the iPhone 6 is a moment of transition to a larger size, so there will be kinks in the design process for the first generation. If you consider yourself an ‘Apple Faithful’ who bought an iPhone 6/Plus on launch day, then the solution making the rounds is to use the respective case for your device. That will protect your screen in addition to providing additional protection from bending. The only problem with this solution is the sheer size of the iPhone 6 Plus: will the fanny pack need to come back?
#bendgate has brought many launch window issues that tech fans often face into the mainstream with mixed results. Objectively speaking, the iOS 8.0.1 update removing phone functionality sets a terrifying precedent for problems in the future. Alas, the ‘bend’ has become the story itself in the eyes of most observers. As fun as the glorified Mac/PC flame wars in the mainstream press comment sections may be, there is the necessity of remembering that people make a conscious choice when they pick one OS over another. The consumer is ultimately the only one who suffers when companies like Apple opt to lower their quality control, in either software or hardware, and no one calls them out on it.
It’s best to wait on the Apple front if you haven’t already sprung for the iPhone 6/Plus since this story continues to develop.