Tech.pinions Podcast: BlackBerry Passport, iPhone 6 “Bendgate”

Welcome to this week’s Tech.pinions podcast.

This week Tim Bajarin, Bob O’Donnell, Jan Dawson and Ben Bajarin discuss the release of BlackBerry’s Passport phone and analyze the impact of the Apple controversies around the bending of iPhone 6’s and glitches in iOS 8.0.1.

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Runtime: 27:49

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Bob O'Donnell

Bob O’Donnell is the president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a technology consulting and market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.

26 thoughts on “Tech.pinions Podcast: BlackBerry Passport, iPhone 6 “Bendgate””

  1. Just today I received a check from Apple for just over $300 resulting from the class action suit over the bogus iPhone water sensors. I had a big “to do” with them at the genius bar at the time (2009 or so). They refused an AppleCare warranty on a phone that suffered from a botched SW update, due to “water damage”. Never mind that this was a software not hardware issue. They refused to open the phone to check for internal “water damage”, they only looked at the exposed sensors. Long story short, a jailbreak (my only one) fixed it.

    Fast forward to today’s “vindication”. I have always (and still do) carried my various Note, Note II, GS3, Moto Atrix, GS4, GS5 (very recently stolen, replaced by an LG G3), HTC One in my back pockets. Even in tight jeans! Never came close to bending one. Ever! (btw, I always carry two phones). The person who’s bendgate video was questioned did it again, in public, before witnesses. That thing did bend pretty easily.

    I’m concerned over the dismissal of “bendgate” in the podcast as a non-issue. You are influencers. If that becomes the prevailing sentiment, will customers that show up with bent iPhones be considered to have abused them and be denied warranty service? As I described in my opening paragraph, it’s happened before.

      1. What will put this issue to rest is what happens in the wild. Short of being involved in full contact sports (or equivalent), keeping a phone in pants pockets is acceptable use. If it isn’t that’s a big problem. Time will tell.

      2. Unfortunately, the CR test method did not refute the Unbox video because it failed to test for the stress-point identified in the viral Youtube posting. A recent Forbes article, referencing an engineer’s analysis and material from, clearly shows the culprit. An internal steel reinforcement anchor point positioned too close to the lower cutout. Under non-uniform stress, this point becomes a fulcrum whereby the ALU frame can more easily buckle from normal use cases. If you take note of the Apple walk through of its QA test benches as well as the CR test bench…it appears that none actually tested for this use case. In effect, Unbox simply revealed a design fault that was never considered by Apple’s Product Development team. IMHO.

        1. “it appears that none actually tested for this use case”

          Because the schmuck and his video don’t show this as an _actual_ use case. How many people or even pairs of pants are going to try to bend their iPhone like they are breaking apart graham crackers?


          1. Because of effort and intent. And someone is bank rolling this guy. He has “bent” at least three, and more likely more assuming he practiced before filming, iP6+’s. First who has this kind of money to throw around? And second, these things are back ordered. He sure is getting his supply pretty easily.

            I watched his second video with supposed witnesses. I don’t know these guys from Adam, yet I’m supposed to just accept they are “eye witnesses”? His whole presentation is classic magician patter. “Here I happen to have a brand new deck of cards, unopened. Inspect this deck of cards. Normal, right? (just before he bends the iPhone, the camera cuts away and then back) Presto!”. These may be legit demonstrations, but there are enough crevices for me to wonder what is missing from the presentations. These were carelessly (or cleverly) stitched together, but I’m supposed to believe him over Apple, CR, and others who have tried this and failed.

            And mostly, effort. You have to deliberately hold it a certain way to bend it. And I am supposed to accept that this represents “normal use”? Why would I do that? The first thing he did when he saw Apple and CR response was point out “They are bending it wrong!” How is this any better than Jobs saying “You’re holding it wrong”?

            As far as I can tell this is just some schmuck who is looking for his 15 minutes of fame at Apple’s expense. If he really wanted people to trust him, he would have been far more careful in his demonstrations.

            I’m not saying the phone won’t bend. I am saying this is a non-issue that he has leveraged to maximize his own exposure. I’ll give him props for being a marketing genius and being a master story teller in the vein of Mike Daisey (who is also a schmuck). But for pointing out some supposed design flaw? Hardly.


    1. “That thing did bend pretty easily.”

      Easily? That’s hardly an objective statement. I’m pretty sure I could bend any phone you give me in the same fashion. Depends on forearm and hand strength, and I have very strong hands and arms (I’m a drummer). That’s a heck of a lot of force applied to a small area the way that guy bends the iPhone in the video. It may look easy, but normal day to day use is not going to exert that much force. I know you hate Apple, but come on, let’s stay in reality please.

      1. It’s even more objective than that , I said “pretty easily”.

        Reality is that I have NOT come to a conclusion, whereas it seems other’s, including you, have. As I also replied to emscko above, reality is what happens in the wild. If (notice IF) significantly more iPhones bend over the course of the year compared to other similarly sized models, then its an issue. If they all bend, they ALL have an issue. Keeping in pants pockets should not be misuse.

        I know you love Apple, but we can wait and see what reality is.

        1. We don’t need to wait. Consumer Reports did tests to determine the force needed to bend the iPhones, which far exceeds the force encountered in normal use (if we’re being realistic). And we can see in the video the guy bending the iPhone uses an amount of force that also far exceeds normal use (again let us try to use some common sense). So, if your point is that the iPhones bend “pretty easily” when enough force is applied, then yeah (duh), you are correct. Your mistake is imagining that normal use is going to result in the application of similar force. That is extremely unlikely. That is our current reality. But hey, you go ahead and “wait and see”. Me, I’ll rely on physics.

          “Keeping in pants pockets should not be misuse”

          Not so fast, if you keep your phone in a back pocket and you sit on it, I’d say that is definitely not proper use. It’s just dumb. You can’t honestly believe that sitting on your phone is okay and should be categorized as normal day to day use.

          1. “Which far exceed the force encountered in normal use”
            How do you know that’s meaningful? They measured 70 lbs. of force to bend an iPhone. I weigh 220. Is that meaningful? I’m being generous by waiting.

            See, I’m relying on physics too. I don’t know how well these single orientation results translate to real world “in pants” use. These tests did nothing to shed light on that. What exactly is normal day to day use in terms of force?

            I do know that the iPhone tied for worst (with the HTC One) on these tests, and I also know that the HTC One does not bend in my real world tight jeans use. They have different dimensions, and stress/strain failure DOES depend on dimensions, so I still maintain that I don’t know. They might, or they might not. That’s what the physical data show so far.

          2. “How do you know that’s meaningful? They measured 70 lbs. of force to bend an iPhone. I weigh 220. Is that meaningful? I’m being generous by waiting.”

            You’re not being generous, you just have a limited understanding of the force involved here. I also build a lot of stuff, my house for example (as well as various things we build on the farm, equipment and so on), so I have some understanding of what’s involved here. Weight, force, load, especially point loads, those are all different things. Trust me when I tell you the amount of force that was measured to bend that iPhone, it wasn’t a small amount. I can imagine the odd situation where it may occur ‘in the wild’, but it isn’t likely with normal use. Again, you’re certainly free to wait and see. What you will see is that I am right.

            “PS-I’ve been dumb enough to keep all the phones in my opening statement in my back pocket and they never bent. None of them.”

            You can keep them in your back pocket, you just can’t sit directly on them. Most back pockets are high enough that sitting on your phone isn’t an issue. But again, I think even you would agree it’s not wise to actually sit on your phone.

          3. Since you’re so confident and versed in the forces involved here, would you advise someone to avoid keeping the iPhone in their back pocket or not?

          4. I’ll tell you what I tell my wife, who keeps her iPhone 4S in her back pocket. It’s fine as long as you are careful not to sit on it. But if you happen to sit on it just the wrong way on a hard surface, you could put a point load in just the wrong place and bend or break it. This is true of any device in your back pocket.

            Point loads are especially bad, it’s the difference between a small woman in high heels damaging a floor and you or I being able to relax in a hammock. Or another example, slap your car window as hard as you can with an open palm and you likely won’t do any damage. But I have a pointy spring-loaded tool that I can simply touch to your window and shatter it. It’s not just the amount of force, it matters how it is applied.

            The reason most people don’t break their devices in their back pockets is the load is distributed enough, or the pocket is high enough that the device doesn’t experience any force at all. But enough force applied in the right way will bend or break pretty much anything, obviously. I am confident that normal use won’t even come close to the amount of force needed to bend these phones.

          5. Yes, what you described is pressure (stress), which is force per unit area. A concentrated force can do much more damage. There’s also torque, shape, stress/strain relationships, rate of load, temperature, elastic modulus, poisson ratio, etc., etc., etc. that impact object deformation. These can, and will, vary widely in real life use. I agree that sooner or later anything can bend, but what’s the likelihood? I stick with “I don’t know”.

          6. And I’ll stick with normal use not even coming close to the force necessary to bend the iPhone.

          7. “the forces involved here”

            That’s the thing that gets me. None of the demonstrations I’ve seen give me any reason to believe these are demonstrably reflective of normal wear. What are the physics involved in the front or back pocket of tight pants?


          8. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where an iPhone in a pocket experiences the force necessary to bend it. I suppose anything is possible, but it’s gonna be rare.

    2. Uri Geller used to bend spoons and forks with his mind! That is until real magicians the world over exposed and duplicated his methods. Of course the spoons and forks were pre-bent. The strong-man trick of tearing a phone book in half is actually quite easy to do by anyone who knows the secret. But in neither situation, do these things happen without deliberate effort. Nine people out of over 10 million iPhone users pretty much makes this a non-event.


    3. What is interesting about this topic is that it is due metal that there is any issue at all. I tried to bend my note with even less force then I tried the iPhone 6 + and got the Note to bend but because it is plastic it does not stay bent. While I didn’t apply enough force to bend the iPhone, all though I’m certain I could, metal will not bend back. Plus anything of a certain width is going to be easier to bend than something smaller.

      USA Today, MSNBC, etc, all did man on the street videos and gave the new iPhones to every day folks. Women, men, none who look like they weight lifted of course, and and them try and none could bend it using moderate force.

      I’m not sure if there is something going on or some units have weakened metal but from the vast gamut of evidence I”ve seen it still only happens during normal use cases, a small minority of the time. And Apple is replacing those devices where an actual every day use case leads to a bent device. Still very small amount as of now.

      1. Thank you for the rational response.

        As long as Apple warranties them, and doesn’t weasel out of it (as they did in my “water damage” case) it’s not an issue for the consumer.

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