Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Apple Posts Support Article Addressing iPad Pro Bending

Since the new iPad Pro models began shipping in November, spurious reports have come in that some units have a bend in the chassis right out of the box. At the end of last month, Dan Riccio — Apple’s VP of hardware — replied to an email sent by an affected user, which MacRumors published, noting that:

Riccio’s email also says that a company statement was not included in the original information disseminated by The Verge, and that Apple will be reaching out to media outlets to comment officially.

The original email was sent late on December 20 and suggested a comment would come “later today,” but that didn’t happen, so it’s not quite clear when Apple will provide more info to the media. We may be hearing an official, more reassuring statement on the 2018 iPad Pro before the end of the day.

No statement has yet been issued. However, today, Apple did publish a marketing page cum support document, which echoes much of Riccio’s email and adds some context about the manufacturing process (emphasis mine):

These precision manufacturing techniques and a rigorous inspection process ensure that these new iPad Pro models meet an even tighter specification for flatness than previous generations. This flatness specification allows for no more than 400 microns of deviation across the length of any side — less than the thickness of four sheets of paper. The new straight edges and the presence of the antenna splits may make subtle deviations in flatness more visible only from certain viewing angles that are imperceptible during normal use. These small variances do not affect the strength of the enclosure or the function of the product and will not change over time through normal use.

First of all, and most importantly: called it.

Secondly, Apple is sticking by its assertion that tolerances for flatness are finer on newer iPads than on older models. But it is equally true that we have not previously seen reports of iPads bent in this fashion.

Perhaps this is as simple as the way in which this particular generation of iPads is showing its bend. Perhaps past iPads did, indeed, deviate from a perfectly flat plane but on a more gradual curve, as opposed to the sharp kink present in these models.

Ryan Christoffel, MacStories:

The iPad Pro’s bending controversy has reached nowhere near the level of attention as that of the iPhone 6 Plus a few years back, but it’s nice to finally receive official word from Apple on the subject. If your iPad is bent enough that it’s obvious and noticeable in daily use, there’s a decent chance the bend exceeds 400 microns, and thus would be covered under warranty. With slighter bends, however, it seems those are a cost we have to pay for enjoying the iPad Pro’s boxy, straight-edged new design.

Apple has previously stated that they do not consider this to be a manufacturing defect. However, presumably, if the bend exceeds 400 microns, it would be a manufacturing defect as it is outside of their tolerances. But how many people are going to measure the deviation from a perfectly flat plane? Hopefully, Apple’s support staff won’t give complainants much grief and will simply replace affected iPads. If you are affected and you have an experience you’d like to share, get in touch.

Also, I disagree with Christoffel that this is something we should tolerate because of this iPad’s design. If there were a manufacturing process that slightly scratched or dented a product, Apple wouldn’t ship those units to customers. Why should customers spending a thousand of their hard-earned dollars accept that their brand new product is bent out of the box?