In case you hadn't guessed, Apple doesn't often show this room to outsiders. The only reason I'm here today is because Apple's latest iPhone, the iPhone 6, bends. At least for some people. The real question up until now is just how many people that's happening to, and whether that would happen during normal use in a human pocket.
Apple's answer today, both in a statement and now in these testing facilities, is that the iPhone 6 is tough. It's made with steel / titanium inserts designed to reinforce potential stress points, a special blend of aluminum Apple formulated itself, and ion-strengthened glass. But more important, Apple says, is that the iPhone 6 has been put through hundreds of tests, as well as tested in the pockets of thousands of Apple employees before consumers ever get their hands on it.
What's the exact number of devices Apple went through before it was done? About 15,000 for each the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, according to the company. "The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus are the most tested," Dan Riccio, Apple's senior vice president of hardware engineering, told us today. "As we add more and more features, we have to find out a way to break them before customers do."
"The bottom line is that if you use enough force to bend an iPhone, or any phone, it's going to deform," Riccio says.
Along with that press test, there's what's known as a "sit test," which simulates the stresses iPhones undergo while in pockets. And not just any pockets, either. There's a test for when people sit on a soft surface, as well as what Apple considers the "worst-case scenario," which is when it goes into the rear pocket of skinny jeans and sits on a hard surface — at an angle.
These are just a small portion of the facilities that Apple uses, Riccio says. The company does some here, but also at a much larger scale in China where its products go through some of the last steps before entering full-scale production.
This time around, there are no free cases for people, or even a press conference. Apple's just telling people with a phone that's bent to take it into one of its stores to have it looked at.
"As we expected, it’s extremely rare to happen in real world use," Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller told us. "In this case, as in many things, we tell customers that if you think something's occurred that shouldn't have with your device, 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."