iPad Pro bending issues: Apple explains away 'subtle deviations in flatness'

Apple's new support page addresses 2018 iPad Pro's 'imperceptible' bends.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Apple has published a new support page in a bid to end chatter about some 2018 iPad Pro devices having a slight bend after normal usage or out of the box.  

In November some users on MacRumors forum reported seeing a bend from the mid-section of the device after normal usage, such as carrying a new iPad in a bag on a weekend trip. 

The 2018 iPad Pro, the thinnest iPad yet, also bent under minor pressure in a stress test video from Jerry Rig Everything, fanning claims on the internet that Apple have another 'bendgate' on its hands, a name first earned by the bend-prone iPhone 6 Plus in 2014.      

Though not as widespread as iPhone 6 Plus issues, in December Apple confirmed to The Verge that some of the 2018 iPad Pro devices were shipping with a slight bend in the aluminum body, which seemed to occur more frequently on LTE models where a strip of plastic covers the antenna. Others were bending at a plastic section on the bottom of the device. 

Apple on Friday posted a new support page to explain that some new iPad Pro devices might have "subtle deviations in flatness" where the antenna is located, but it also downplayed the problem as these deviations would be "imperceptible during normal use". Apple also defended the strength of the 2018 iPad Pro's chassis. 

"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," Apple says in the support note. 

SEE: Apple iOS 12: An insider's guide (free PDF)

The support note mentions that the new iPad Pro's specification for flatness during inspection is tighter than previous generations, only allowing for 400 microns of deviation -- or less than a stack of four sheets of paper -- across the length of any side.

Apple's SVP of hardware engineering Dan Riccio had emailed some customers in December explaining the specification of 400 microns, described as less than half a millimeter thick. He'd also said the levels shouldn't change during normal use and don't affect the function of the device. 

Apple's support note also explains that plastic strips or 'splits' in the sides of the iPad allow parts of the enclosure to act as LTE antennas. 

The strips are added using a process called 'co-molding' where "plastic is injected into precisely milled channels in the aluminum enclosure where it bonds to micro-pores in the aluminum surface". After the plastic cools, the enclosure is finished with precision CNC machining operation. 

Apple says if customers find a new iPad Pro doesn't meet its specifications outlined in the note, they should contact Apple Support.

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