Apple tries to address iPad Pro 'bendgate' concerns with new support page

Since the debut of the 2018 iPad Pro, Apple has been facing a large number of concerns and complaints from customers about the tablet shipping with slight but noticeable bends in its body design. The issue grew in the weeks since the device began shipping in November, with users sharing photos online of their new iPad Pro appearing bent right out of the box. Apple stated in December that these slight bends were not considered defects, and it's now gone a step further with a new support page detailing the manufacturing process.

Apple's previous comments noted that the slight bends users are noticing are a result of the cooling process for the metal and plastic components used in the 2018 iPad Pro's unibody design. The company continued that the deviations were within specifications, and, more importantly, don't affect the device's functionality or strength.

The new support page published on Friday goes into much more detail about the manufacturing process, and the reasons users might notice bends. The company uses the iPad Pro with WiFi and Cellular as an example, stating that its new tablet design is its thinnest ever, and it is strong and durable. That said, it admits that users might notice "subtle deviations in flatness more visible only from certain viewing angles that are imperceptible during normal use."

Most reports of bent iPad Pros mention that the deviation is found along the top edge of the tablet near the antenna line. It seems it's the process of combining plastic with antenna "splits" for the cellular model using a new co-molding technique that may result in slight bends.

"To provide optimal cellular performance, small vertical bands or "splits" in the sides of the iPad allow parts of the enclosure to function as cellular antennas. For the first time ever on an iPad, these bands are manufactured using a process called co-molding. In this high-temperature process, 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 entire enclosure is finished with a precision CNC machining operation, yielding a seamless integration of plastic and aluminum into a single, strong enclosure."

Apple continues to explain that this manufacturing process results in iPad Pros with a tighter flatness specification that has "no more than 400 microns of deviation across the length of any side." 400 microns is roughly the thickness of four sheets of paper, and when taking into account the tablet's new design, minor deviations can be much easier to notice than with previous models.

"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."

The company reiterates that customers should contact Apple support if they believe their iPad Pro is bent or warped beyond the 400 micron specification, and that its products have a 14-day return period and a one-year warranty.