Apple Knew About Bendgate and Touch Disease iPhone 6 Issues Months in Advance of Repair Programs

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As part of an ongoing lawsuit over the "Touch Disease" manufacturing issue affecting iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices, Apple was required to provide the court with internal testing documents that suggest the company knew about iPhone 6 and 6 Plus design problems before the two devices launched.

The full scope of the internal documents remain under seal, but the judge presiding over the case, Lucy Koh, made some of the information public when she published an opinion on the case earlier this month, and Motherboard shared the details she offered up about the case.


Apple knew that the iPhone 6 was 3.3 times more likely to bend than the iPhone 5s, while the iPhone 6 Plus was 7.2 times more likely to bend ahead of the release of the two devices. Publicly, though, Apple said that the two devices had been "thoroughly tested" and evaluated for "strength and durability." Bending, according to Apple, was "extremely rare" and only happened to a small number of customers.


At the heart of the Touch Disease problem is an earlier issue that received widespread attention -- bendgate.

Bendgate was the first and most visible issue affecting the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but the malleability of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is also what led to Touch Disease, which occurs when the chip that detects touch input becomes unseated from the logic board from bending or as Apple claims, multiple drops. Apple quietly addressed Touch Disease in an engineering change implemented in May 2016, but did not launch a repair program until months later after the problem received significant attention. From Judge Koh:
After internal investigation, Apple determined underfill was necessary to resolve the problems caused by the touchscreen defect. As the Plaintiffs explain, "nderfill is a bead of epoxy encapsulant that is placed on a circuit chip to reinforce its attachment to the board substrate and to stiffen the surrounding assembly. ... Underfill is used to prevent the manifestation of chip defects induced by bending because it reinforces the connections and prevents them from bending away from the substrate."
As part of the repair program that Apple eventually put in place, the company is replacing devices affected by Touch Disease with a replacement device for a service fee of $149.

The Touch Disease lawsuit is still ongoing and not all documentation has been made public. Judge Koh recently denied the plantiffs' attempt to get class certification, but an appeal is in the works. The full court document covering the denial for class certification is available from Motherboard.

Article Link: Apple Knew About Bendgate and Touch Disease iPhone 6 Issues Months in Advance of Repair Programs
 

PTLove

macrumors 6502
Sep 12, 2014
387
571
In Apple's defense, we don't know what that 7.2x more likely was as a number. It could have still been a very small number.

On the other hand, a 7.2x increase in a failure condition is probably enough for most companys to disregard a design, regardless of that number.
 

Radon87000

macrumors 604
Nov 29, 2013
7,613
5,930
Well duh, they execute a perfect combination of hardware and software planned obsolescence. Just wait a few more years and the iPhone 7 is next along with the 6s with more issues in addition to batterygate. With the iPhone X not giving it 4 gigs of ram is planned obsolescence.
 

alphaswift

macrumors regular
Aug 26, 2014
246
779
This is only logical. The 6 being a larger, thinner phone had to be bendier (if that's a word). Given that the Iphone 5 is a relative brick in comparison, Apple decided that this wasn't a problem. They were probably correct if you judge by revenue and share price -- people want their Apple stuff.

This is not a big deal.
 

JGRE

macrumors 65816
Oct 10, 2011
1,012
664
Dutch Mountains
In Apple's defense, we don't know what that 7.2x more likely was as a number. It could have still been a very small number.

On the other hand, a 7.2x increase in a failure condition is probably enough for most companys to disregard a design, regardless of that number.
What was Apple supposed to say? Here is a new device that is a wide screen iPod with though controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and internet communicator... and when you sit on it it will bend?
I haven't had any issues with the iPhone 6 I owned.
 

profets

macrumors 601
Mar 18, 2009
4,588
4,539
I still think it is absurd that Apple charged $149 to "fix" an admitted production defect.
A friend of mine at the time had the issue and it was driving them crazy. Finally Apple replaced the iPhone for full out of warranty cost (~$400) as this program wasn't running yet. The refurb replacements kept showing the same symptoms. Fighting with them, just to get it replaced with a new model took forever.

And then when the program was launched it took an even stranger route to have the difference reimbursed (it was part of the plan, but no one at the time seemed to know how to handle it).

It was one time where the customer service and experience was very very disappointing.
 
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