Bendgate Hits Galaxy S6: Will Samsung Learn From Apple’s Example?

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It was inevitable that someone would try to bend the latest smartphone from Samsung. Following its cheeky Twitter posts when Apple was caught up in a flurry of posts about the iPhone 6 Plus being easy to bend and deform, the South Korean company’s latest handset has been put under the same test… with the same results.

SquareTrade applied the ‘single bar flex’ test to find out how much pressure was needed to reach the ‘bending point’ of the Galaxy S6 Edge. The iPhone 6 Plus bends at 110 pounds of pressure, and the S6 Edge bends at 110 pounds of pressure – although you could argue the S6 Edge ‘lost’ as it suffered a cracked screen at a lesser pressure of the iPhone 6 Plus (149 pounds, compared to 179 pounds).

In a fair and even-handed world, the Galaxy S6 family will now receive just as much press and discussion around the issue of build quality as the iPhone 6 Plus, but I suspect that this won’t be the case.

Looking back at how Apple handled the issue it stood its ground, noting the low number of complaints, the “damage occurred due to regular use is ‘extremely rare’”, and any iPhones shown to be unintentionally bent would be replaced.

This was not enough, and in an attempt to bring the discussions back to a sense of normality it brought a number of leading reporters into its test labs to show the testing that the hardware went through as part of the design phase. That drew a line under the events of bendgate for the iPhone 6 Plus, and everyone moved on.

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If Samsung’s PR team is smart, it will have brainstormed this issue and have an action plan ready to go to counter the stories and the momentum that will build up against the build quality of the Galaxy S6. But as I said, I don’t think it will need a major incident plan.

The iPhone 6 Plus is no longer seen as a phone that bends by the general public. With the Galaxy S6 bending at the same pressure, it’s very hard to discuss Samsung having made the same mistake. The general nature of phones becoming thinner means that the flexing of the chassis, which has always been present, is more noticeable but still within acceptable limits.

There’s also the brutal nature of online publishing. Articles around Bendgate and the Galaxy S6 family will not be as popular as the iPhone 6 Plus. With less views available to popular websites, there will be less of a drive to keep it in the press. Apple is an attractor for stories such as this. Samsung is also strong, but not quite in the same league.

The Galaxy S6 bends if you apply a lot of pressure on it. So does the iPhone 6 Plus. So does the HTC One M9. So does the Nokia 2110, and it was released in 1994. Nothing is indestructible. Outside of the hype of the media, modern phones are broadly similar in terms of the stresses and strains they can accommodate.

I’m interested not in the physical design issues, but in how Samsung’s PR team cope with this issue. Will it be a non-issue, will it flare up over the Easter weekend before dying away, or will this run and run? How will Samsung deal with this, and will the geekerati place the same pressure on Samsung as it did Apple? And will it damage the sales of the Galaxy S6 when it reaches the public next week.

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