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iPhone bending is “no big deal”

Wednesday, October 1st 2014 by Ellen Branagh

A materials scientist has dismissed the “bendgate” controversy around the new iPhone 6 as “no big deal”.

The issue was reported around the globe, with videos showing the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus bodies being bent.

Professor Neil Alford (pictured), head of the department of materials at Imperial College London, said Apple would have tested the phone thoroughly prior to launch and been satisfied with its strength.

He told Cable.co.uk, “There is a special property in a metal which is its stiffness, in technical terms called the elastic modulus.

“The inverse of that is something called the compliance. That is, if you like, the bendability of a metal.

“You can have a metal like aluminium and it has a certain stiffness, a certain elastic modulus.

“It doesn’t matter how thick it is, whether it’s a centimetre thick or a millimetre thick, the stiffness is still the same, but the compliance is different. So if you make it slightly longer, it becomes more compliant.

He told us, “This isn’t a massive deal and people are just making a bit of a thing out of it.

“The folk at Apple aren’t stupid; they are going to be looking very carefully at the compliance of their phones.

“They will have done the sums and they will have said the compliance of this is pretty adequate.

“The fact that a few folk have complained about the fact that it’s bending, frankly I don’t think that’s a big deal.

“If you’re going to sit on your phone I don’t think that’s a very good idea really.

“I think the folk at Apple will have thought this one through pretty carefully and I just don’t see that this will impede their progress.”

Apple tried to calm the storm last week, saying that with normal use, a bend was “extremely rare” and just nine customers had contacted them about the issue in the first six days of sale.

Mobile analyst John Delaney, from research firm IDC, agreed with Prof Alford, saying that much of the issue was about perception rather than the actual quality of the iPhone 6: “It’s a materials question; many people don’t like plastic.

“I suppose you could say they want these things made from aluminium and they don’t want them to bend so in that way they are expecting the impossible.”

Business psychologist Alan Redman, echoed that sentiment, explaining how consumers often have unrealistic expectations of a new product: “Psychologically, because we are investing so much in the reward we will get from our new iPhone, if there is a disappointment it hits us quite hard.

“There’s something about our relationship as a society with technology and part of that is the technology companies’ fault. They have led us strongly to believe that these phones can change everything."

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