Apple might have manipulated the facts related to the iPhone 6 bendgate issue, which concerns Apple internal documents related to the testing of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices. The revelation comes as part of the touch disease lawsuit that has been keeping the Apple legal department busy these days.
Apple internal documents suggest that the iPhone maker was aware of the potential design flaws in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus prior to its launch. Apple internal documents suggested that the iPhone 6 was 3.3 times more prone to bend compared to the iPhone 5S. On the other hand, the iPhone 6 Plus was 7.2 times more likely to bend than the iPhone 5S, according to the public documents of the case (accessed by Motherboard).
District Court Judge Lucy Koh, who is presiding over the case, said: “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.’”
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Well if you are wondering what the connection is between the iPhone 6 bendgate and the touch disease, the latter is a continuation of the bendgate issue. It is claimed that the chip that detects touch input becomes unresponsive after detaching from the logic board as a result of bending. The Cupertino, California-based company claims that the issue is the result of the phone being dropped multiple times onto hard surfaces, and that there is no defect on the part of engineering.
It was only after the class-action suit that Apple took note of the issue and announced to fix the problem for $149. Though Apple admitted the issue, it still maintained that it was a result of multiple drops onto hard surfaces.
When the touch disease issue was first revealed by a third-party repair specialist, the problem was pinned to the inappropriate bonding of the touchscreen controller to the iPhone’s logic board using “underfill,” a glue-like substance. The plaintiffs claim that the slightest bend from regular use or drops of the two flagships could force the touchscreen controller to detach from the logic board, as per the case document.
Judge Koh stated that Apple internal documents determine that underfill was “essential to fix the problems caused by the touchscreen defect,” and thus, moved to use the bonding substance on the iPhone 6’s “until May 2016.” This clearly suggests that the company realized that was the reason for the display issue.
Also, Apple opted for grade 7000 aluminum in the iPhone 6S giving more thickness to the phone. Possibly, it could have been the response to iPhone 6 bendgate. Another document suggested that an epoxy, which was found in all previous models, was not used in the 2014 models. This could have resulted in the chip losing its contact with the circuit board on being bent.
It’s not just Apple that has given higher importance to the design over preventable issues. Arch rival Samsung also did not see it coming when it crammed the battery into the Galaxy Note 7, not realizing that the body of the phone was too slim to house the powerful power source.
In a separate development, the government recently detained the aftermarket iPhone parts from Jessa Jones, a known name in the repair community. Jones owns a repair shop, and played a vital role in bringing the touch disease to light at the time of the release of the iPhone 6. According to Motherboard, several iPhone screens and other parts were seized from Jones by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBD) agents.
Reportedly, the parts were an amalgamation of refurbished screens with an authentic Apple flex cable. Such products are deemed to be counterfeit, and therefore, could not be imported or sold in the U.S. These seizures are not a rare occurrence, and are seen as a way that Apple and other companies exert control over the repair market.
Jones reportedly struck a deal with a Chinese “grey market” supplier, which sells screens that are a mix of original, refurbished and aftermarket parts. Both Apple and the customs agents believe that the screens are “counterfeit.” However, the experts believe that Jones can build a strong legal case if she wants to challenge the detention.
On Thursday, Apple shares closed down 0.11% at $188.15. Year to date, the stock is up over 11%.