Two days ago, the Internet erupted with photos of bent iPhone 6s, and a very-viral video of a guy creasing an iPhone 6 Plus with his bare hands. It seemed like a serious concern, yet everything about the uproar was highly unscientific. We don't like unscientific, so we promised then that we would use our lab equipment to find out just how delicate the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus really are. We also promised to run the same tests on comparable smart phones. We've done that now, and our tests show that both iPhones seem tougher than the Internet fracas implies.
To stress test these phones, we used what's called a "three-point flexural test," in which the phone is supported at two points on either end, then force is applied at a third point on the top—you can see the testing for yourself in our video. We applied and measured the force using a high-precision Instron compression test machine. Along with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, we tested the LG G3, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and HTC One (M8), and for those wondering about their old iPhones, we tested the iPhone 5 as well. We used one sample of each phone.
Yesterday, while we were testing and the "#bendgate" controversy was still swirling, Apple invited some journalists into its labs to show how the company stress tests iPhones. According to published reports, it seems that one of the tests Apple uses is the same three-point flexural test on a similar Instron machine.
The reports stated that Apple applies 25 kilograms (slightly more than 55 pounds) of force to an iPhone 6 Plus to test flex. What does 55 pounds mean in context? Using our Instron, we found that it's approximately the force required to break three pencils.
Consumer Reports' tests pushed the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus much further than 55 pounds. We started light, applying 10 pounds of force for 30 seconds, then releasing the force. Then we increased the force in 10-pound increments, noted when the phones first started to deform (that's what our engineers call it) and stopped the test for each phone when we saw the screen come loose from the case.
All the phones we tested showed themselves to be pretty tough. The iPhone 6 Plus, the more robust of the new iPhones in our testing, started to deform when we reached 90 pounds of force, and came apart with 110 pounds of force. With those numbers, it slightly outperformed the HTC One (which is largely regarded as a sturdy, solid phone), as well as the smaller iPhone 6, yet underperformed some other smart phones.
Throughout most of our test, the LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 bent, then recovered completely from each step up in force. But at 130 pounds, the case of the G3 fractured. At 150 pounds of force, the Note 3's screen splintered and it stopped working.
Impressively, despite some serious damage from our Instron machine, some of the phones continued to work. Several of the screens illuminated and were functional to the touch; we even completed a call from one phone to another.
Below you can see the pictures of the smart phone carnage, but bear in mind that it took significant force to do this kind of damage to all these phones. While nothing is (evidentally) indestructible, we expect that any of these phones should stand up to typical use.