I am sometimes quite dim, and so it took me a while to realise that Apple’s focus on the strength of the “7000 Series aluminium” used in the iPhone 6s was probably tacitly – not explicitly; never explicitly – addressing ‘bendgate’. This, the discovery shortly after launch that the iPhone 6 could deform with enough pressure applied along its length, was mostly a PR problem for Apple rather than an actual problem for its customers, but that’s why using PR to counter it this time round makes sense.
This, though, prompted another thought, building on what John Gruber recently wrote about how the every-two-years ‘s’-generation iPhones are the ones to buy, and it’s this: s-gen buyers effectively have had their phone’s design beta tested by millions of users, over trillions of hours of use, generating tens of thousands of data points in Apple’s support infrastructure, and this means that Apple has the opportunity to correct flaws in the original, non-s variant of that design.
You could argue that there shouldn’t be flaws in the first place, and you can be damned sure Apple tests thoroughly, exhaustively, both in the real world and with mechanisms designed to mimic extended periods of use, but I suspect there’s just no substitute for millions of users actually, really, properly using a product when it comes to revealing areas of weakness.
Here’s another example: some iPhone 6 users have been affected by the front-facing camera gradually moving – or presumably more accurately, being knocked and nudged – off centre, revealing a (harmless) crescent moon shape off to the side. That’s exactly the sort of thing that I can imagine easily fails to surface during internal, prerelease testing, but now Apple has enough reports of it, it can in theory use that information to correct it with the iPhone 6s.
This whole theory is bunk, mind you, if the lead times for design and manufacture are so short as to make it impossible to incorporate changes within the annual cycle Apple releases phones on. I just don’t know; it seems really short to me, but, from a position of ignorance, it strikes me as not out of the question, if a revealed flaw is sufficiently severe.