Apple's upcoming iPhone 6S isn't yet here, but already speculation is swirling that the company has modified the backplate of the next iPhones to avoid the bending problems that some owners reported when they carried their phones in their pockets.
Unbox Therapy's Lewis Hilsenteger, who creates video reviews and reports about a wide range of consumer products including smartphones, unveiled what he said is the latest and improved backplate made for Apple's next iPhone in an Aug. 10 video he posted on YouTube.
"It looks like Apple is making some changes based on my inspection of this new upcoming iPhone 6S," Hilsenteger said in the video. Though a comparison of the existing backplate design from an iPhone 6 and an iPhone 6S appear to look the same at first glance, "the area around home button and the power switch appear to be significantly thicker on the 6S backplate compared with the standard 6," he said.
Those were the areas where some iPhone6 devices bent for consumers in widely circulated reports last September, just after the new smartphones went on sale. Hilsenteger's research found that the outside dimensions of the latest backplate are slighter larger in width and height, but that the key differences are that it is almost twice as thick at the place where the volume buttons are located, adding strength in a vulnerable point. The old backplate was .044 inches thick at the button openings, compared to .07 inches thickness in the new backplate, he said.
"It's obvious that Apple has increased the thickness at various weak points in the back chassis of the iPhone 6S when compared to the 6," he said.
At the same time, the new reinforced backplate weighs less than the previous version, indicating it is likely made from a new type of aluminum, he said. The old part weighs .95 ounces while the new one weighs .88 ounces.
The original "Bendgate" reports of bending iPhones came from around the world after the phones debuted, according to an earlier eWEEK report. The bending issues were widely circulated online at the time along with graphic photographs that purport to show iPhone 6 phones with mild or more severe bending. Some 10 million iPhone 6 devices (pictured) were sold on the first weekend when they went on sale.
"There's some evidence here that Apple took Bendgate seriously," said Hilsenteger in his report. "It looks like everyone is going to end up with a stronger iPhone than the previous [generation]."
Hilsenteger could not be reached by eWEEK on Aug. 11 for further comment on his research.
The reported phone bending problem was not the first time that a potential problem has cropped up with new iPhones. In July 2010, Apple dealt with antenna issues surrounding its then new iPhone 4 that were inspired by consumer complaints of poor call quality when they held their phones. Called "Antennagate" by the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the time, the problem was the location of the antenna inside the devices, which was solved with an add-on thin rubber case.
The bending issues come on the heels of Apple's all-time record-setting first-weekend sales numbers for new iPhones since the first devices hit the market back in June of 2007.