Will Apple’s ‘Impossibly Thin’ New iPad Pro Kick Off ‘Bendgate 3.0?’

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There’s little doubt that Apple’s new M4-powered iPad Pro lineup is an amazing feat of engineering, but the new iPads also seemingly mark a return to Apple’s obsession with making its products almost ridiculously thin.

During last week’s Let Loose event, Apple Senior VP John Ternus clearly relished the opportunity to demonstrate how the new iPad Pro is the thinnest device Apple has ever made, going so far as to actually compare it to the seventh-generation iPod nano — a device from 2012 that the company hasn’t sold in nearly seven years — and marking the first time we’ve even heard the name “iPod” mentioned at an Apple event in nearly as long.

It’s an impressive design, but it’s also enough to make some folks nervous. That’s understandable, as it was Apple’s preoccupation with thin designs that brought the ill-fated butterfly keyboards to the MacBook and created the “bendgate” controversy with the iPhone 6 Plus that was the most likely cause of the infamous Touch Disease problem with those phones.

Sadly, this also extended to the 2018 iPad Pro with its new thinner, flat-edged design. Of course, it would bend like butter if you deliberately tried to do so, but the real problem was that some iPads showed up bent out of the box. Apple insisted this was no big deal, but it was still unsettling for many customers, and even a former Apple Marketing Director expressed disappointment with Apple’s quality control.

With Apple’s new 5.1mm 13-inch iPad Pro being so much thinner than the previous 6.4mm model, you may be wondering whether you should trust it to remain unbent. The good news is that Apple seems to have learned its lesson and taken steps to improve the rigidity and durability of its latest tablets.

As shared by 9to5Mac, YouTuber Arun Maini of Mrwhosetheboss got a chance to ask John Ternus and Apple Marketing SVP Greg “Joz” Joswiak some pointed questions, including why they keep making the iPad thinner and what they’ve done to ensure that it’s still durable.

What about the durability aspect of it? Obviously, the first thing someone’s going to think is, “I’m a bit scared,” when they pick up something that thin. Is there anything specific you can share that’s been done with the new iPad that makes it potentially more durable? Arun Maini

According to Ternus, the new iPad Pro models have an entirely new internal structure that improves heat dissipation — an essential factor considering the new M4 chip — and effectively adds a metal backbone that resists bending and flexing.

One of the interesting things is the main logic board runs right down the center in between the two batteries on the iPad Pro. That’s really helpful from a thermal dissipation standpoint as it spreads heat evenly. But we also have a cowling over the main logic board, a metal cover that also helps on both thermal spreading but it also effectively creates a central rib that runs through the whole thing that tremendously improves the stiffness of the product.John Ternus

The original so-called “Bendgate 2.0” turned out to be a tempest in a teapot. Apple clearly resolved whatever issues in its manufacturing process resulted in bent-in-box iPads, and most folks quickly forgot about it and moved on to enjoying their iPads.

While the iPad Pro may have still been easily bendable, most people didn’t notice as long as it wasn’t showing up that way. Unlike the iPhone 6 Plus, people don’t tend to carry an 11-inch or 12.9-inch iPad Pro around in their pocket. The only reports we ever heard of iPads bending after purchase were contrived tests where YouTubers and others attempted to bend an iPad deliberately. Granted, those tests required surprisingly little force, but they were still done with the express goal of bending an iPad.

Despite its even thinner design, there’s little reason to believe this will be a problem for the new M4 iPad Pro lineup as long as you exercise even a tiny bit of caution. If you’re tossing your $1,000+ iPad Pro in a full backpack with no case or other protection, you’ll likely encounter more significant problems than the possibility of it bending.

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