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

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, "[u]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.

Top Rated Comments

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22 months ago
If anyone thinks there is any honesty left in the corporate world, he's lying to himself...
Rating: 50 Votes
22 months ago
"Designed for obsolescence in California."
- Apple
Rating: 41 Votes
22 months ago
I still think it is absurd that Apple charged $149 to "fix" an admitted production defect.
Rating: 35 Votes
22 months ago
When you got a crook like Tim Cook at the helm, what do you expect?
Rating: 27 Votes
22 months ago
This is why I don't get it when people talk crap about Samsung. Manufacturer defects do happen, but when they do happen most companies will do a proper recall.

Except Apple. They will give you a piece of rubber instead.
Rating: 26 Votes
22 months ago
Where is the Apple Defense Force now?

Come on dudes! Give it the old-college try!
Let denials, and "Apple cannot do no wrong" ripostes, flow!

Apple marketing is depending on you.
Rating: 20 Votes
22 months ago
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.
Rating: 18 Votes
22 months ago

Too easy...2014 isn't really that long ago. Apple already addressed this issue in detail. The iPhone 6 met the industry standards of the time for the strength of the case. It's actually kind of sad that MacRumors is attempting to turn it into a "controversy" again. This was heavily reported on long ago.

Let’s not try to revise history.

The iPhone 6 didn’t meet industry standards. It lacked underfill on the touch chips that every other manufacturer applies on larger chips. Apple applied underfill on the iPhone 5s but stopped with iPhone 6 to save a few pennies.

Just because the iPhone 6 chassis superficially resists minor bending doesn’t say anything about the logic board.

That’s like crash testing a car without looking at the condition of the dummy inside.
Rating: 16 Votes
22 months ago
If Apple is not honest with the defects of the iPhones, can you really trust them with your privacy?
Rating: 16 Votes
22 months ago
And water is wet
Rating: 13 Votes

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