Who remembers #Bendgate, 2014's hottest tech controversy in which that year’s new model of iPhones couldn’t stop bending in people’s pockets? Well, even though Apple has yet to publicly admit to it, court documents show the company knew that its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models were significantly more likely to bend than the iPhone 5S model and released them anyway, according to Motherboard.
#Bendgate happened soon after the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were released in September 2014. According to USA Today, Apple released a statement at the time saying bending issues were "extremely rare," and that the company company performed “rigorous tests throughout the entire development cycle, including 3-point bending, pressure point cycling, sit, torsion, and user studies” and that the "iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus meet or exceed all of our high-quality standards to endure everyday, real life use."
However, in early 2016, the same models began showing signs of “touch disease,” which causes the touchscreen to stop working properly. Motherboard reports that the “repair community” attribute touch disease to the phone bending as a result of regular use. Over a year ago, a class action lawsuit was filed against Apple over this issue. As a result, documents related to Apple’s internal testing have remained sealed, until US District Court Judge Lucy Koh made some of that information public in an opinion she published this month.
Apple found that the iPhone 6 was 3.3 times more likely to bend than the iPhone 5S, and the iPhone 6 Plus was 7.2 times more likely to bend than the iPhone 5S. Koh wrote that “one of the major concerns Apple identified prior to launching the iPhones was that they were ‘likely to bend more easily when compared to previous generations.’”
Koh adds that Apple made engineering changes to the phone a year-and-a-half after it was released seemingly to prevent touch disease. “After internal investigation, Apple determined underfill was necessary to resolve the problems caused by the defect,” Koh wrote. “Apple had used underfill on the preceding iPhone generation but did not start using it on the [touch disease-related] chip in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus until May 2016,” after millions of iPhones had been sold. Underfill is “an epoxy used to stiffen the logic board,” Motherboard explains. Apple only publicly acknowledged touch disease in November 2016 and has yet to recognize any engineering changes made to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
The court filing notes that Apple claims that its “rigorous and comprehensive reliability test data proved that enclosure bending and twisting cannot cause the issue unless the phones had already been repeatedly dropped on a hard surface.”