It may not quite be up to epidemic status, but several cases of people walking into Apple Stores and bending the demonstration models of the iPhone 6 Plus have come to light. There are no pockets involved and no iPhones that are personal possessions. It's just people strolling in and destroying display devices.
Business Insider ran two different reports of willful bending. One came as a first-person account, reprinted from the blog Cramer's Shirt, of a person walking into an Apple Store at the mall, picking up an iPhone 6 Plus and placing pressure on the device in line with a weak spot noted in online videos about the bending issue. The writer mentions seeing other people attempting the same experiment. The author goes on to say he didn't feel bad about bending the phone and that his thumb was sore for 20 minutes afterward.
A report that came to light Monday includes video evidence of bending escapades. Two teens in the UK record themselves exhorting Apple to fix the problem and then share some extremely shaky video inside an Apple Store as they bend and pop the screen out of an iPhone 6 Plus. One thing that's striking about this video, other than the horrible quality, is how much effort it appears to take to get the phone to bend.
The sore thumb and the teens' struggles show how different this scenario is from the reports of iPhones bending after being carried in pants pockets. Apple says it has received some complaints from customers, though an official statement puts the number at just nine as of a few days ago.
The teens seem to see themselves as some sort of digital-era Robin Hoods, trying to prove a point and strike at the heart of the Sheriff of Appleham. What it really is is evidence of criminal damage to someone else's property. Try this same thing with an HTC One M8 at Best Buy and you'd be more likely to get a police citation than a rah-rah response from strangers on the Internet, like this one posted on YouTube: "If you were shopping for a house and someone told you the roof leaked, would you want it to rain or maybe test it by pouring water in that area to test it out? I would. Reports are that the phone bends. Apple says it doesn't. Good job going and testing it."
Bending iPhones in the Apple Store doesn't prove anything about the phone. It doesn't replicate real-world conditions of regular use where a phone might conceivably get bent. It's not going to prod Apple into a mass recall or massive redesign. Recording the damage and uploading it to YouTube just shows you're not thinking clearly, as is helpfully sharing your faces with the world, as the teens in the video did.
For the record, I'm a Moto G owner who totes her smartphone in her back pocket all the time. Yes, it's in a case. Yes, I sometimes sit on it a little. No, it hasn't bent. If "Bendgate" blows up into a serious issue involving masses of iPhones, Apple should absolutely do something about the problem. If it's a more contained complication involving a handful of phones, then Apple needs to keep doing what it's been doing: assess the phones on an individual basis and replace as necessary.
So let's all resolve to keep calm about this, keep our hands to ourselves and not try to muscle innocent iPhones into new yoga positions in a hollow grab at fleeting Internet glory.