Apple has made its fair share of missteps over the years. From Bendgate to “They’re holding it wrong,” we present the biggest fails.
The company often tries to sweep problems under the carpet and only rarely admits its own mistakes. Therefore, customers hardly ever get an apology. Instead, they prefer to simply give out freebies, offer discounted repairs or extended warranties. A journey through the history of the best and funniest Apple fails.
The most recent example of a major misstep is the Qi charging mat AirPower announced in 2017, with which iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods owners were supposed to charge their devices wirelessly. In 2019, Apple had to admit to having technically failed with the project.
At the end of 2017, complaints üabout degraded performance on äolder iPhone models piled up. Geekbench developer John Poole proved in a Reddit post that iOS specifically downgrades performance to save battery. Apple confirmed the throttling after initial hesitation and justified it by saying that it was to prevent sudden crashes. However, due to the secrecy, users saw this as a hidden attempt to force them to buy a new device.
Ultimately, Apple apologized for the incident and built a feature into iOS to disable throttling. In addition, the company offered owners of an iPhone 6 or newer a battery replacement at a reduced price of 29 euros until the end of 2018.
Not much needs to be said about this round mouse – except that it was impossible to use. A classic example of form üover functionality that went absolutely üover the top. The completely unergonomic shape of the mouse meant that you had to cramp your fingers to press the button. After all, the colorful iMac G3, with which the mouse was delivered, has become a cult object. And somehow the mouse is part of it. But only somehow.
Speaking of the mouse, the field hockey puck hasn’t remained Apple’s only design faux pas in this area. The best example is the wireless Magic Mouse 2, whose charging port sits on the bottom. Charge the mouse and use it at the same time? Not a chance.
iPhone 6 Bendgate (2014)
The iPhone 6 ushered in a new „ra at Apple: From now on, the company offered its smartphones in two sizes. The normal iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus were both larger than the predecessor model iPhone 5, and that was where the problems began. As is typical for Apple, the devices had to be slimmer despite the larger surface area, and the first complaints were received just a few days after the launch. In the forum of the site Macrumors, a user posted a photo of his iPhone 6 Plus, where a clear bend is visible. Only a short time later, YouTube was full of videos in which people tried to bend their iPhones by hand. According to Apple, only a few users were affected by the problem, but Apple still offered free replacements if the bend was actually caused by normal use.
On the Internet, the folding function of the iPhone 6 became known as „Bendgate“. Apple gave the subsequent iPhone 6s a thicker aluminum frame to avoid further incidents of this kind. Since the iPhone 6 Bendgate, there have been a number of reviewers who test every new smartphone for structural strength. Among them is Zack Nelson, who runs the YouTube channel JerryRigEverthing and subjects smartphones to an ordeal test to examine their resistance. The new iPad Pro also fell victim to this test at the end of 2018, under the „Two-thumb test“ just folded in half. In fact, some iPad Pro owners complained that their devices were slightly bent. Many felt reminded of Bendgate and the reactions increased to such an extent that Apple felt compelled to release a statement in early 2019. The company admitted that some devices can have slight bends, but that this is normal and does not affect the functionality.
Apple Maps (2014)
By now, you can’t really tell that Apple’s own map service was once one of the company’s most controversial missteps. Introduced along with the iPhone 6, Apple Maps was supposed to replace the already excellent Google Maps on iOS. However, it turned into a disaster. Apple Maps was so bad that numerous users were misguided by the navigation and buildings, cities or entire islands were drawn incorrectly in some places. Apart from that, the satellite images were partly in black and white; or completely flat, instead of in 3D as promised.
Apple Maps was one of the rare cases where Apple issued an official apology, but it has since disappeared from the Apple site. In the apology, Tim Cook wrote that they had failed with the launch of Apple Maps and would do everything they could to fix the problems. In the meantime, users should just go back to using Google, Waze or Bing map alternatives.
iPhone 4 Antennagate (2010)
After two years of the slippery plastic backs of the iPhone 3 and iPhone 3GS, Apple introduced the iPhone 4 with a glass back and aluminum frame in 2010. However, the admittedly chic design had a fatal problem: Shortly after market launch, buyers noticed that the signal suddenly disappeared when making a call and the call was dropped. The aluminum frame acted as an antenna row that was simply blocked in certain positions in the hand.
Apple’s first response to the problem: „You’re holding it wrong“. This saying went down in the history of the Internet and is still used today when a device does not work as it should. A few weeks later, however, Steve Jobs apologized for the fiasco known as „Antennagate“ and vowed to remedy the situation. What did the solution look like, you ask? Apple simply distributed colorful bumper cases that covered the aluminum frame – that’s what I call a practical and inexpensive solution. At least for Apple.
Apple Pippin (1996)
Okay, this is practically an antique, but the Pippin was still one of the biggest revenges for the young Apple. The company developed the Pippin together with Bandai. It was originally supposed to be a low-cost Mac for gaming. What came out of it was a überteuerte game console with Internet access and desktop operating system, which sold – a whopping – only 42,000 units. You don’t even have to compare that to the 100 million units sold by the original PlayStation to see that the Pippin was an absolute flop. 15 months after its launch, the Pippin was put out of its misery and discontinued – shortly after Steve Jobs returned to Apple.
Butterfly keyboard (since 2016)
Although our list mainly contains unruly examples über Apple’s iPhones, there are also enough questionable design decisions in the popular MacBooks. Practically every year, new problems come to light; IFixit recently reported on the Stagelight problem, where the MacBooks literally run out of light due to too short connection cables.
A problem that has been present in all MacBooks since 2016 is the so-called butterfly keyboard. Apple proudly introduced it in the 12-inch MacBook from 2016. Since then, it has been installed in all new MacBooks. Compared to the classic Scissor keyboard, the Butterfly keyboard can be much flatter, which also makes the MacBook itself look flatter. However, apart from the fact that the keyboard can be tedious and uncomfortable to type on, it is also extremely susceptible to dust. As soon as only small dust particles get underneath the keyboard, the keys can block and no longer register any input. Apple has meanwhile installed a new version of the keyboard in its current MacBooks, which hides a silicone layer under the keys. According to Apple, this is supposed to prevent typing noise, but many assume that Apple wants to protect the keyboard against dust.