The Ultrathin M4 iPad Pro Will Bend — But Only If You Really Want It To

M4 iPad Pro bend test via JerryRigEverything Credit: JerryRigEverything / YouTube
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It looks like Apple’s executives were telling the truth about the solid build quality of Apple’s “impossibly thin” M4 iPad Pro. Asked earlier this week about its durability, Apple Senior VP John Ternus reassured YouTuber Arun Maini that it was designed with improved stiffness.

That statement should have quelled fears that Apple’s thinnest-ever 5.1–5.3mm iPads would not herald the arrival of a new “Bendgate” controversy. Still, we had to expect that some folks were going to try this for themselves and record the results for posterity.

About six years ago, JerryRigEverything’s Zach Nelson conducted some bend tests on the 2018 iPad Pro, the first model to slim things down and gain a flat-sided design with an edge-to-edge screen. At the time, Nelson did his signature bend test, revealing that the then-new iPad Pro could be destroyed without too much force. A similar test performed on the 2020 iPad Pro by EverythingApplePro showed that it also bent “like butter,” showing few improvements over the earlier model.

Nelson has returned to provide the same test for the M4 iPad Pro. In a video titled “Thinnest iPad Ever — What Could Possibly Go Wrong,” the YouTuber admits the results are “different than you might expect.”

The metal backbone that Apple added to the M4 iPad Pro seems to be doing its job, reinforcing the internal structure and resisting bending and flexing. The M4 iPad Pro ultimately failed the test, but that’s not surprising considering that Nelson was very deliberately trying to break it.

Nelson concluded that the M4 iPad Pro has “black magic levels of structural integrity”, at least for resisting horizontal bends — those around the shorter lateral axis. However, it was more susceptible to vertical bends around the longer axis, where it would crack right at the USB-C charging port — an obvious weak point. Plus, Apple’s new central spin runs along the length of the iPad Pro, and a vertical bend essentially runs parallel to that.

Another YouTube channel, AppleTrack, performed the same tests but also compared the latest model to the older M2 iPad Pro from 2022, finding that the M4 iPad Pro actually held up better than its predecessor — a surprising result considering how much thinner it is.

What’s even more impressive is that the iPad Pro models kept working even after being subjected to these extreme bend tests. Despite cracked and shattered glass, the touch screens were still responsive, and the cameras all still worked. You probably wouldn’t want to keep using an iPad in this condition long-term, but it’s good to know that you could still get data off it if you needed to.

However, as interesting as these tests are, it’s important to remember that the force being applied here is an order of magnitude beyond what any normal person will put their iPad Pro through. A “Bendgate 2.0” controversy surrounding the 2018 iPad Pro was primarily caused by a few iPad Pro models showing up bent out of the box but was relatively short-lived. There were never any significant reports of iPads bending during everyday use. Apple quickly fixed whatever manufacturing problem was leading to “pre-bent” iPads, and the few that did have that problem were easily returned for a refund or exchange under Apple’s standard policies for all of its products.

It should go without saying that it’s a good idea to exercise care with a large and expensive glass slab like the iPad Pro. As these tests show, you’re unlikely to be able to bend it without really trying, but the screen will still easily crack if you drop it or scratch if you toss it unprotected in a backpack with other heavy and sharp objects. If you’re taking reasonable precautions against those more common types of damage, bending will be the least of your worries with any iPad model, including the thin new M4 iPad Pro.

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