After few weeks of iPhone 6 market release some users highlighted what was called as “Bending gate” case, basically they claimed that iPhone 6/6Plus were weak enough to blend easily in their pockets, and after so much fuss, Apple showed couple of videos of their internal Testing & Qualifying housing process (also against ‘bendings’) and made the following official statement:
Our iPhones are designed, engineered and manufactured to be both beautiful and sturdy. iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus feature a precision engineered unibody enclosure constructed from machining a custom grade of 6000 series anodized aluminum, which is tempered for extra strength. They also feature stainless steel and titanium inserts to reinforce high stress locations and use the strongest glass in the smartphone industry. We chose these high-quality materials and construction very carefully for their strength and durability. We also perform rigorous tests throughout the entire development cycle including 3-point bending, pressure point cycling, sit, torsion, and user studies. iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus meet or exceed all of our high quality standards to endure every day, real life use. 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.
I will not open the iPhone 6 ‘Bending’ housing debate again here, as I want to talk more about the new aluminum alloy that Samsung will use in their newer Galaxy S6 series high-end metal unibody smartphones:
Samsung will use the Aluminum 6013 alloy, which as the other aluminum alloy 6XXX series is an alloy of Aluminum-Magnesium-Silicon. Moreover, the second number (a “zero”) denotes that the alloy purity is maximum without any kind of the change on it.
Samsung claims this aluminum alloy is sturdier than the regular used in automotive industry and most of current days smartphones, also they say “that is an alloy used in aircraft industry”, but I want to highlight that 6013 alloy is not used in the inner structural parts of an airplane but in the external and visible parts.
Moreover, Samsung Mobile officially assured that “this alloy will not bend” (making an obvious nod to Apple), (at minute 1:18 of next YouTube video):
Which is something we need wait to test/see until first units are market released and some users begin playing with them and uploading videos in YouTube of their experiments.
I will also mention that even it is not officially stated in Apple iPhone 6 specifications, we think Apple used Aluminum 6003 alloy (at least in the beginning iPhone 6 batches of last year).
In Wikipedia, these alloys are not detailed described, but you can find some technical data of both these two alloys here:
- Aluminum 6003 Alloy
- Aluminum 6013 Alloy
Where if you look in the Applications section of each one, you will notice that 6013 alloy is used in harshest environment products than 6003 version.
I don’t know why Apple exactly selected 6003 iso 6013 (or other from 6XXX series), but they should have their good reasons: Technical limitations, Manufacturability issues (DFM), Costs or Production capability from their vendors?
Only Apple knows, but looking the figures, it seems that 6013 is an sturdier alloy than 6003, so probably Samsung is right using 6013 in their newest high-end smartphones.
Anyhow, I am pretty sure that Apple will improve the strength of their current/coming iPhones doesn’t matter the way:
- Maybe also moving to 6013 alloy without letting us know (and if the change is impossible to be noticed by end user, maybe it is already done in latest iPhone6 batches without being officially announced; if not maybe reserved for coming iPhone 6s as new feature).
- Maybe keeping 6003 alloy but changing the Temper grade used (we also don’t know which one is currently used by Apple housing manufacturing process).
- Or simply strengthening the weak area where the housing was blending (near the volume buttons housing hole) with more/bigger/thicker steel/titanium insertions, as it is already done in other sides of the housing to keep it slim, lightweight and robust as Apple stated.
I.e. You can see below where are those inner metal inserts located inside iPhone 6 Plus (first 2014Q4 batch) in these photos:
(The blue highlight is the Volume area where even having an insert, it seemed to be the weakest against pressure exerted)
You can see those inserts are basically steel/titanium flat metal pieces directly screwed in the housing of iPhone 6/6Plus.
In any case, this time I am sure of the good & high housing quality of both products: Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6.