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Apple scores better on bendability tests with iPhone 6S and 6S Plus

The durability of Apple's latest smartphones and Samsung's Galaxy Note 5 is put to the test.

The larger iPhone 6S Plus scored best on bendability tests. James Martin/CNET

With its new line of iPhones, Apple appears to have put its Bendgate issues behind it.

The new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, which were released Friday, fared much better under pressure than their predecessors, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, according to tests results released Monday by SquareTrade Labs, a provider of extended warranties for mobile devices. The company subjected Apple's new flagship smartphones and the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 to a series of drops, dunks, bends and temperature shifts to determine how well they withstood physical abuse.

The unwanted flexibility of Apple's iPhones became an issue with some consumers not long after the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were released one year ago. Photos began appearing online showing distinctly bent aluminum devices along with criticisms that the new iterations of the iPhone were unable to stand up to the wear and tear of staying in a pocket.

Other phones also appeared to be subject to similar issues. An old thread in Apple's support forum points to bends reported in the iPhone 5 and 5S, and the CultofMac cited older iPhones as well as Samsung, Sony, BlackBerry and other phones as prone to bending under certain conditions -- some extreme and some not too extreme.

The iPhone 6S Plus scored best on bendability, withstanding 180 pounds of pressure, a 50 percent improvement over the iPhone 6, SquareTrade found. The smaller iPhone 6S showed a 60 percent improvement by withstanding 170 pounds of pressure, tying the Note 5's results. SquareTrade credited the Cupertino, California-based company's use of a reinforced 7000 series aluminum chassis with improving the handsets' results.

While the flexibility is a focus of concern after last year's minor controversy, SquareTrade found that face-down drops still represent the greatest hazard to all three handsets. Despite the use of new and improved glass, the screens on all three smartphones shattered when dropped face down on pavement.

Although the Note 5 was most vulnerable to damage from accidental drop, Samsung's smartphone scored best in temperature durability. Noting that extreme temperatures damage a phone's ability to hold a full charge and therefore shorten the handset's lifespan, SquareTrade found that at zero degrees, the Samsung managed to last nearly two hours during a video call. The iPhone 6S Plus went more than an hour under the same conditions, while the 6S made it half as long.

"While Apple touts the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus as the most advanced iPhones ever, we still found them at the mercy of the most common of all problems -- the accidental drop on a hard surface," said Jessica Hoffman, vice president of global communications for SquareTrade. "On the flip side, both manufacturers have responded to bendgate with significant improvements on the three phones we tested. This is great news for consumers."

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.