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Apple shows behind-the-scenes iPhone 6 stress testing, damage control over bendgate

Apple has experienced several major problems this week, on both software and hardware fronts, what with iOS 8 issues followed by an update (iOS 8.0.1) which did more harm than good (opens in new tab), and then there's bendgate.

Bendgate, should you have missed this one, is the ruckus which has been caused over some complaints from iPhone 6 Plus (and iPhone 6) owners that their handsets have been bent slightly after keeping them in a tight pocket for a period of time.

A bend test video of the iPhone 6 Plus (opens in new tab), conducted by Unboxed Therapy, grabbed a lot of media time, and showed the device could be deformed by exerting considerable pressure with the thumbs.

Apple has really gone into damage control mode on this one, as it has not only issued a statement to clarify the matter, it also took a journalist from The Verge (opens in new tab) to see inside the building where iPhones get stress tested.

In the statement released, as we reported earlier, Apple said: "With normal use a bend in iPhone is extremely rare and through our first six days of sale, a total of nine customers have contacted Apple with a bent iPhone 6 Plus. As with any Apple product, if you have questions please contact Apple."

Read more: Apple responds to iPhone 6 bendgate: There's no issue here (opens in new tab)

And the Verge's tour around the handset torture facility (which is located a few blocks away from the Cupertino campus) showed off the kinds of machines and processes Apple uses to stress test its upcoming products.

The building inflicts heavy duty torture tests on phones, but also more run-of-the-mill tests including simulating being sat on in a pocket, putting the handsets through what is effectively a lifetime of usage, or that's the theory. The Verge notes: "The machines that do this methodically set various pads and pressures on the phones over and over again with only a small hiss of air and a dull 'thunk' noise."

The "sit testing" apparently simulates the stresses put on the handset when it's in a pocket in a variety of situations, including sitting on soft surfaces, and a worst case scenario – a tight rear pocket sat on a hard surface at an angle.

Apple says that the iPhone 6 was put through hundreds of machine tests, and tested in the pockets of thousands of Apple employees, before it hit the shelves. Some 15,000 units of the iPhone 6 and its phablet sibling were used up in these testing processes in total.

Dan Riccio, Apple's senior vice president of hardware engineering, told The Verge: "The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus are the most tested. As we add more and more features, we have to find out a way to break them before customers do."

However, Riccio also noted: "The bottom line is that if you use enough force to bend an iPhone, or any phone, it's going to deform."

Related: Extreme drop-testing the iPhone 6 from 10,000 feet (video) (opens in new tab)

And if you have an issue with your new iPhone being bent? Senior VP of marketing Phil Schiller's advice is: "Go to AppleCare, go to the Genius Bar, and let them take a look at it. And we'll see if your product is having an experience it shouldn't have, and is covered under warranty."

Meanwhile, though, stress tests conducted on other phones (opens in new tab) have found less bending present in their bodies, and Samsung hasn't wasted time in trolling Apple over the issue (opens in new tab) (surprise, surprise).

Image Credit: The Verge

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.