Apple Continues to Defend Bent iPad Pro Design

Posted on December 22, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Apple, Hardware with 48 Comments

On Thursday, I wrote about a flaw in Apple’s 2018 iPad Pro design. Customers of the iPad Pro have started noticing a slight bend on their device, with some even receiving their new devices with a slight bend out of the box.

And Apple apparently claimed the bent iPad Pros do not have a defect.

That obviously enraged the internet, as well as Apple’s own fans. The problem here is clear: some of Apple’s new iPad Pro devices are clearly bent, and when you are spending so much on a tablet (yes, tablet, not a computer), you shouldn’t be told that such a bend is not a “defect”. The company allegedly said the bend is caused by the cooling process during manufacturing, all while saying none of this is a defect.

Apple has now continued to defend its claim. Dan Riccio, the Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering at Apple, replied to some complaints from Apple customers via email, obtained by 9to5Mac. Riccio claims that the design of the new iPad Pro “meets or exceeds” all of the company’s standard of design and precision manufacturing.

Riccio said that the company did not provide a “company statement” when the initial report on the bent iPad Pros was published on Thursday, stating that Apple would provide a statement on Friday — which, by the way, it did not (they will probably publish a statement sometime on Christmas Eve while everyone’s busy getting ready to celebrate Christmas).

Riccio went on to prove his point on the email, stating that the company’s current specification for the iPad Pro’s flatness is up to 400 microns, 0.4 millimeters. Riccio claimed that the 0.4mm variance is “even tighter” than previous generations, and the level of flatness of an iPad Pro “won’t change” during the lifetime of the product:

“Relative to the issue you referenced regarding the new iPad Pro, its unibody design meets or exceeds all of Apple’s high quality standards of design and precision manufacturing. We’ve carefully engineered it and every part of the manufacturing process is precisely measured and controlled.

Our current specification for iPad Pro flatness is up to 400 microns which is even tighter than previous generations. This 400 micron variance is less than half a millimeter (or the width of fewer than four sheets of paper at most) and this level of flatness won’t change during normal use over the lifetime of the product. Note, these slight variations do not affect the function of the device in any way.

Again, thanks for reaching out and I hope the above explanation addresses your concerns.”

All of that sounds good, and we obviously don’t have a bunch of iPad Pros to actually measure Apple’s claims, but the problem here is that some of the iPad Pro devices are clearly bent. If a product looks bent to the naked eye, all these measurements and specs are practically pointless.

Now here’s the thing: if we were to believe Riccio and Apple’s claims, the bend on the new iPad Pro could be visible because of the sharp edges and thinner design compared to previous generations. Apple says the tolerance for flatness is tighter on the new iPad Pro than ever before, and if that’s true, the only reason these slight bends are visible to the naked eye could be because of the sharp edges and/or thinner design. And that’s still, of course, a design flaw.

So, yes, some of the new iPad Pros are bent. And Apple continues to claim that’s not a defect. I would like to call BS.

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Comments (48)

48 responses to “Apple Continues to Defend Bent iPad Pro Design”

  1. endoftheroad

    The Reality Distortion Field- the ghost of Steve Jobs. So Apple’s reply to a defective manufacturing process is “get bent”! No way to keep customers.

  2. wright_is

    Mehedi, just a quick point, the iPads have a bend, the iPads are bent or the bent iPads.

    You use bent for both throughout both articles. ;-)

  3. MacLiam

    I don't care if Apple's current standard for permissible warpage is 400 microns, or if that standard is better than for previous iPad Pros. If a non-optimal condition is visible to whoever laid out big bucks for a NIB device, the standard that permitted it is simply low regardless of what the ad copywriters and marketing execs say. My warpage threshold is probably 50-100 microns, or none if I'm in a bad mood when asked to pass judgment. Apple should be rushing to take back any iPad that looks even a little like an aluminum mission tile. If they want to reheat them and cool them off between pressure plates to see if their commodity value can be restored, that's OK with me as long as the reissues come with full warranties.

  4. Bats

    Look I am not a big Apple fan, nor am I a small one. However..... so what if the iPad Pro bends? These people who are saying that iPad bends.....they are purposely bending it, applying a certain force and stress to the material. Who the heck does that to their device? NO ONE! No one, that's who. What's next with these boneheads? Throw the iPad in the lake, recover it, and proclaim it's not waterproof?

    Then, .... LMAO.....I see this one video where a guy takes the iPad and drops on a cement surface floor? LOL...who the heck does that? I do know a few people who have iPads. I am not sure that those iPads are iPad Pros, but I can tell you one thing about them. Those people all use some form of cover for their protect it from accidental mishaps. Dropping an iPad to a concrete floor or purposely trying to bend an iPad by applying pressurized force on both side of the device is not a mishap. I repeat, it's not mishap. Rather, it's a brain stroke. It's when a person's brain stops working and they do incredibly stupid things as a result.

    NO iPads or iPad Pros are going to bend. I guarantee it. If your iPad or iPad Pro is bent, then it's your fault because you were stupid enough to try to bend it on purpose......and you probably even paid cash for it.

  5. Hawaiianteg

    You guys do know that the tolerance they are saying is acceptable is not what’s being shown in the picture? 9to5mac mac was called out on showing that picture with the bigger bend than what apple considers acceptable. If what comes out of the box looks like that, apple will replace it. Please report correctly and not join the bandwagon of sensationalism just to hate on Apple

  6. John Craig

    In the words if Mr Jobs himself, "just don't hold it that way!"

    It's clearly user error.

    There's no way on earth that Apple would sell a tabket that is flimsy to the touch and breaks out of the box.

    There's no way Apple would sell a phone that loses signal when you touch it.

    There's no way Apple would push software updates that intentionally degrade battery life.

    There's no way Apple would etc etc etc

  7. red.radar

    The pitch forks and and torches are out.

    I agree with apple the design spec is probably the flattest ever. The reality is the execution of the design is a problem and they just need to admit there is a problem and they are investigating.

    its just best to say nothing st all when you don’t know what is wrong and don’t ha e a solution.

    The marketing double speak is easy to misinterpret and doesn’t come across as geniuine or sincere.

    my advice... open it up and validate the flatness. After all they just published the spec. If it’s out... return as defective within the 30day period. When they see a pile of warped iPads they will address.

  8. PeterC

    Clearly this is just wrong on every level. Apple got caught with their pants down, again. Shame as I was considering a new iPad Pro after Xmas sometime.

    Interestingly this years been quite a year for “device” problems across the brand spectrum. I think we’re at the edge of current ant manufacturing ability. Manufacturing miniaturisation has been the wave of innovation for quite some time but I think we’ve hit that next brick wall. Screen tech innovation is certainly breaking new ground and will unlock new features in coming years but I think we can see why Apple are focussing so intently on designing and manufacturing their own internal components now (chips, modems, screens, batteries etc) as this will be area where product differentiation will be fought in the coming years, that and software too. MS maybe getting their act together just in time for a period where software and UI gets more consumer attention......(cos the hardwares just getting boring)

  9. Pierre Masse

    Mehedi, make sure when you quote a person that your words are well spelled. You make him look like a dislexic, if not an illiterate. This is almost scandalous.

  10. Bob Shutts

    The 9.7 inch iPad is fine and it’s not super thin.

  11. mattbg

    I’d give them some leeway if this wasn’t so expensive, but the are pushing it with the pricing lately and I would expect perfection.

    I say this from an 11” iPad Pro that to my knowledge is not bent.

  12. Tony Barrett

    Apple seem to be on a roll of dropping quality and increasing prices. If the rumors of iPhone sales stalling or even falling are true, reducing manufacturing costs and increasing the average selling price are common tactics. We've already seen Apple increasing device costs - almost across the board, so are they now cutting quality in the sweat shop Chinese factories? It's not acceptable either way, but as long as the Apple faithful keep buying at whatever price Apple sell them at, it won't change, and the 'official' PR spin will keep saying there aren't any problems, but silently, I bet Apple are replacing them. Got to keep their customers sweet!

  13. melinau

    A problem entirely of Apple's making[sic].

    If you make an ultra-premium product which sells substantially on "design" and "quality", then both characteristics have to be clearly present in the product when consumers open the box. I can't put up a shelf that's level, but I'll spot a slight "bend" every time.

    Apple's taken to more 'blaming the victim' in response to continuing faults with its products. It really doesn't matter if a slight bend is 'within tolerance', if it looks wrong. If it's in-spec and looks wrong, change the spec, don't pretend there's no problem.

  14. Jason Peter

    Show evidence that Apple won’t warranty defects similar to the above picture, or please remove it. The headline with the picture is very misleading. I hardly think Apple is saying that such defects are acceptable.

    Secondly, you guys need to find a new editor. The second-grader you have on the payroll currently tends to miss a lot spelling/punctuation errors on almost half the articles on this site. It's getting embarrassing.

  15. BlackForestHam

    I’ve deployed 45 of these new iPads in an enterprise setting and have yet to see one bent from the factory.

  16. dcdevito

    Apple beat Samsung to market with a bendable display.

  17. Xatom

    Well i find my self agreeing with you. If the Ipad is bent but it is manufactured to spec, guess what, your specs are deficient. Sorry Charlie. Fix the manipufacturing process ( which they re surely doing quietly ) and replace the bent ones. This is how a good company begins to die-well that and building a ridiculous hq building. Always treat that as a sign of the beginning of the end.

  18. ilkkav

    I've bought my fair share (or maybe it's a bit more to be honest) of Apple devices over the years, but now when they've first ruined their entire laptop line with a horribly unreliable keyboard and shot their prices through the roof, this kind of an attitude towards an obvious production flaw is the final straw for me. As far as I'm concerned, Apple can join their current iPad Pro lineup and get bent.

    I'm also happy that I sold off my 9,7" iPad Pro to finance the Surface Book I'm typing this on right now.

  19. skane2600

    There's always two questions in these situations. Does the implementation reflect the requirements, but also are the requirements adequate to produce a defect-free device?

    The Ford Pinto which could easily catch fire in a rear collusion was nevertheless built to spec, but the specs were deficient.

    • wp7mango

      In reply to skane2600:

      I'm which case, that would be a design flaw, not a manufacturing defect.

      In my opinion, this iPad bend problem is a design flaw, which is exacerbated by the manufacturing process.

      • MikeGalos

        In reply to WP7Mango:

        Actually, in this case producing bent housings was a manufacturing defect. Not discarding defective housings was a management decision on cost which effectively changed the design spec to match the defect.

        It's "It's not a bug, it's a feature" done as it usually is. Retroactively.

      • skane2600

        In reply to WP7Mango:

        A failure to properly implement a requirement can come about either by a bad design or by a bad manufacturing process. But as I said, a problematic product can also come about because the spec was inadequate even though the design and manufacturing process properly implement it.

        We have no way to know what part of the process is at fault in the case of the iPad.

        • wp7mango

          In reply to skane2600:


          The trouble is that Apple is now, without a shadow of a doubt, not giving a flying f*ck about its customers in a way that even Apple fans are finding it hard to swallow.

          But the only way Apple will do the right thing is if consumers vote with their wallet, either by not buying a new iPad or by buying something else. Or a proper lawsuit which could have legs in this case.

    • MikeGalos

      In reply to skane2600:

      Actually, in the case of the Pinto it was a design defect that was then made into a crisis when management did the cost analysis, found out that it was cheaper to pay off the families of dead customers than to fix the defect and went with that "cost savings".

      • skane2600

        In reply to MikeGalos:

        The line between specifications and design can be hard to discern. Ford considered two different designs and chose the one that was less safe based on a cost/benefit analyses. The inferior design didn't represent a failure to implement a requirement which is what a design defect would suggest.

  20. 1armedGeek

    Aside from the shoddy manufacturing process, this would be unacceptable for another reason. This flaw has the potential to make it impossible to put some cases on it. I use Speck cases which fit very snugly.

  21. saturn

    If this matches their quality standards, how low are their standards?

  22. HellcatM

    Isn't this the bendable iphone story all again but with an ipad. apple will never learn to say "worry we screwed up, its our fault". Not hard to do but for apple I guess its impossible.

    • dontbe evil

      In reply to HellcatM:

      As long apple fans will keep blindly buy anything, why they should change?

    • obarthelemy

      In reply to HellcatM:

      Actually, it's different. Apple says the iPad gets bent a wee bit during manufacturing and then stays put (mostly because people don't put them in their pockets, it's actually quite bendable too).

      Bendgate was iPhones flexing repeatedly during normal use, which would eventually dislodge components or rupture traces on their motherboards, and that was not functionally OK.

      The issue is that Apple has been saying "it's OK" or "it doesn't exist" of pretty much every flaw with their devices for the past decade or two. So they don't get the benefit of the doubt. Plus, even if it's only an aesthetic issue, at $1,500 for a tablet, I want a perfect one.

      Also, less visibly, Apple has been increasingly preventing third-parties from repairing iDevices. That's much worse than a slightly bent iPad, but it's going under the radar for some reason. I'd say their goal is to extract as much money from people who keep and fix thei devices as from people who upgrade frequently.

  23. dallasnorth40

    I applaud your call of BS.

  24. obarthelemy

    They're holding it wrong while it's cooling, so it bends ?

  25. dontbe evil

    Bhauhauahauaha... The best are the apple fans that love to defend and keep be milked by this arrogant company

  26. curtisspendlove

    Update: spoke to the local Apple store people and they said all standard return policies apply.

    Which is to say, they will take it back, no questions asked for the standard return window and refund your money or replace it.

    I would also not be surprised if they replaced them even after the return window. But that is conjecture on my part, nothing official. But it is my understanding individual stores have flexibility to bend policies for the sake of good customer service.

    So, as usual, they do seem to be standing behind their products.

  27. bbold

    I'm sorry.. If I paid upwards of $1200 for an Apple phablet complete with cloth keyboard and pen2, I wouldn't expect the dang tablet to be bending. This is exactly why I keep receipts and return stuff if I get the first inkling of anything like this happening.

    Pro tip: Unfortunately, Best Buy is now using a service to refuse returns after you've returned a few things, so make sure you don't buy from them anymore. But yes... keep receipt, Return. Get a Surface Pro instead lol In this case, Apple Store is the way to go. They'll take anything back for any reason however many times you want to do it.


  28. JohnPC

    This system won't let me paste a youtube link, so go check out the youtube video "iPad Pro Bend Test" by "JerryRigEverything"

  29. jedwards87

    This is so overblown it is not even funny. Way Way over blown. Enough of this bad reporting to get clicks.