You can bend an iPhone 6 Plus... (Courtesy of SquareTrade)

The verdict is in: You can bend an iPhone 6 Plus. But unless you are really trying to do it, it probably will be fine.

That's the conclusion coming out of phone warranty provider and durability tester SquareTrade, which ran some basic bending "tests" this week on the iPhone 6 Plus at The Washington Post's request after reports circulated that the 5.5-inch phone is warping from the strain of being in people's pockets.

Apple itself on Thursday acknowledged acknowledged that it has received reports of the phone bending. But cases are "extremely rare." Out of the millions of phones sold, Apple said a total of nine customers contacted the company about a bent iPhone 6 Plus.

Apple performs "rigorous tests throughout the entire development cycle including 3-point bending, pressure point cycling, sit, torsion, and user studies," a spokeswoman said in a statement. "iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus meet or exceed all of our high quality standards to endure everyday, real life use."

SquareTrade's tests are worth noting, even if they likely fell short of what Apple did in its labs. For the first trial, SquareTrade asked two of the most physically fit members of its office to try and bend some phones.


But the only person who could do it at SquareTrade labs was employee Pace Lu, a bodybuilder. (Courtesy of SquareTrade)

Employee Jessica Hoffman -- a 5' 4" pianist who, like her colleagues, "considers herself strong," the company said -- couldn't make it budge, even when applying direct pressure to the weakest part of the phone, near the volume buttons. But her colleague Pace Lu, a bodybuilder and certified personal trainer who can bench 405 lbs., bent the phone "pretty easily" said Ty Shay, SquareTrade's chief marketing officer.

"He tried with about half his strength; he could have broken it if he wanted to," Shay said. You can see that test for yourself, here:

An employee of iPhone warranty provider SquareTrade demonstrates that he is able to bend the Phone 6 Plus with his hands. The test was conducted in response to complaints that Apple's new smartphones are warping in owners' pockets. (SquareTrade)

To judge the phone's durability in more routine situations, the company also ran a "skinny jeans" test, to see if the device would bend under the strain of being wedged in a tight pocket, a claim made on several Apple online forums.

SquareTrade sought out an employee wearing skinny jeans -- in this case, Pourmeh Sarram, who is 5' 10" and helpfully told The Post that he has a 31-inch waist. Sarram wedged the phone in his jeans pockets. Then SquareTrade had him sit in an office chair for 30 minutes with the phone in his front jeans pocket -- mirroring a situation that a user described in a widely-circulated MacRumors post.

Sarram said this was "very uncomfortable." SquareTrade also asked Sarram to do 10 squats with the phone in his pocket. But none of these situations managed to bend the phone in any way. (The company did not try a test with the phone in the back pocket, so we have no official test of what happens when iPhone meets butt.)

So, yes, the phone can bend. But at least from these "tests," you really have to be trying to bend it in order to do any noticeable damage.

That's not to say the photos of severely bent iPhones circulating under the "#bendgate" hashtag  on Wednesday were faked or doctored. But there's no way to independently verify whether the phones really warped during normal use or if people bent them purposefully and then claimed a defect. But at least for SquareTrade, whose whole business is assessing the risk of phone damage, iPhone bending is not something it thinks will happen often. And, Shay said, the company is unlikely to add a bendability exercise to its normal battery of tests any time soon.

"My opinion is that this is an edge case," he said. In looking through the dozens of insurance claims already filed on the iPhone 6 Plus -- yes, just a few days after its launch, people have already dropped them on the sidewalk, or immersed them in water -- there have been no claims about bending.

Plus, Shay said, even the bent iPhone still worked. "I think this mostly cosmetic damage, like scratching the case," he said.

SquareTrade will keep a close eye on claims that continue to roll in over the next few weeks and beyond, and will keep us in the loop about how many people submit bending claims. If it ends up being a common problem, Shay said, Square Trade would "definitely create a bend test going forward."

 

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