Bad Apple? Bendgate, iOS8 and other hiccups

  • Living
  • Friday, 26 Sep 2014

Bent: As demonstrated in a YouTube video on the Unbox Therapy channel, the iPhone 6 Plus – with the larger 5.5in screen – bends to your will. Definitely not designed for skinny jeans or people who like to bend stuff.

From phones getting bent to services being dropped, Apple’s less than perfect 2014 rollout seems to suggest someone forgot to do their homework.

With the launch of two new iPhones, unveiling of Apple Watch, and iOS8 update, 2014 is supposed to be Apple’s big year. Everything is supposed to run smoothly and everyone is meant to fall in love with Apple once more. But while Apple gleefully announced that it has shipped more than 10 million units of its two new iPhone 6 models since Sept 19, it hasn’t exactly been a flawless roll-out.

Barely recovering from the public backlash caused by Apple’s decision to automatically install U2’s latest album Songs of Innocence on iTunes without users’ knowledge, two of Apple’s new products have unwittingly hit rather embarrassing bumps – on the same day!

The first bump happened when buyers discovered their iPhone 6 Plus were slightly “bent” after being carried in their trouser pockets. “Bendgate” – as the issue has already been dubbed on social media sites – somewhat echoes 2010’s “antennagate” when iPhone 4 users reported a design flaw that caused dropped calls.

Bent: As demonstrated in a YouTube video on the Unbox Therapy channel, the iPhone 6 Plus – with the larger 5.5in screen – bends to your will. Definitely not designed for skinny jeans or people who like to bend stuff.

The second bump? The company pulled its latest mobile operating system iOS8 after users report of dropped cellular service. Oops. While Apple has yet to comment on the bending-phone phenomenon, it did announce that it was investigating reports of an issue with an update of its iOS8 operating system. In the meantime, it has pulled the iOS 8.0.1 update – at least it’s not as bad as the Maps app debacle of 2012.

More distressing of the two recent bumps is definitely Bendgate – what’s up with that? According to Brandwatch, a company that tracks and analyses data from social media sites, only a small number of people tweeted about the “bend” in the days leading up to Sept 22.

But after the release of a video entitled iPhone 6 Plus Bend Test regarding the issue on Unbox Therapy, a gadget review channel on YouTube, which had racked up over 20 million views by Sept 25, Twitter mentions of the “bend” skyrocketed to more than 75,000. 

In the video (which can be seen at the beginning of this article), Unbox Therapy's Lewis Hilsenteger bends an iPhone 6 Plus with his bare hands, and notices that the bend occurs where the volume buttons are located. 

Some say the device, which has a lightweight aluminium shell, is more malleable than expected, but that might fall short of a design flaw, according to analysts. To Apple acolytes, the very idea that Apple could have overlooked a design flaw is unthinkable – evaluators are equally flummoxed.

“A ‘bendability test’ hasn’t been part of our breakability testing to date because up until this week we’ve never seen a phone thin enough to make this a potential issue,” says a spokesman at SquareTrade, which provides warranties to iPhone users, adding that it plans to conduct more tests on Sept 24.

The bendable-phone situation may prove particularly troubling for those who wear skinny jeans, according to reports on Facebook and Twitter. The phrase “Your pants are too tight for your phone” has already received hundreds of mentions. More pragmatic posts advocate that users buy a protective case for their phones. 

Tweets are flying about the “bend in your pocket,” the challenge of wearing “tight pants,” and that the iPhone 6 Plus bends “with bare hands,” says Brandwatch spokeswoman Dinah Alobeid. Another key topic, she adds, is a comparison with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phone, which has nearly 4,500 mentions. There's even a spoof page dedicated to Bendgate, making fun of the bending as well as Apple's minimalist aesthetics. 

Apple spokespeople did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but at least one rival smartphone maker jumped at the chance to weigh in. “I would challenge you guys to bend our Passport,” says John Chen, Blackberry’s chief executive officer, at an event in Toronto on Sept 24 to unveil its newest phone. Apple, you better watch out!

And lest we forget, there was also this: the infamous drop. – Reuters

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