Updated: 26 October 2023
Is your iPad Pro slightly bent? You’re not alone. In fact, so many people reported a slightly bent iPad Pro— straight from the factory— that it became a minor public relations fiasco for everyone’s favorite tablet company. There’s a lot of confusing information out there: is it a defect, is it a manufacturing variant, or is it something else altogether?
Here’s the good news: it shouldn’t get worse, and it doesn't actually matter for regular use. If your iPad Pro is bent enough so it doesn’t fit into its iPad Pro case, you’ll need to take it back to Apple for an exchange. Do the same thing if your iPad Air can’t fit in your iPad Air case, whether that’s an iPad Air 10.9 Case (4th Generation) 2020 or the iPad Air 5th generation 10.9 case.
Still wondering what’s up? Here’s everything you need to know about dealing with a slightly bent iPad Pro, including the likely causes, what the implications are, and what Apple itself says about it.
Back in 2018, shortly after the 12.9 and 11-inch iPad Pro models came out, some users started noticing that their iPads had a discernible curve. This wasn’t user error or a structural weakness made worse by improper carrying methods. They actually came out of the box that way, and people were worried they’d received a subpar product.
Some contacted Apple. While Apple made replacements when requested, it stated there was no widespread problem and explained to users that the device had been manufactured to very high-quality standards. Their user support email also explained that the iPad Pro's flatness was specified to be 400 microns, less than half a millimeter or a few sheets of paper. They suggested that the flat sides of the new model made any slight, irrelevant bend in the iPad more noticeable and promised that any deviation below 400-micron in flatness (about the thickness of four sheets of paper) that an iPad might come with would not adversely affect the tablet’s performance or life span in any way.
An article published in the Verge in December of that year suggested that there was a manufacturing variance in some iPad Pros but also repeated the issue wouldn’t get worse, and Apple didn’t consider it a problem. Currently, Apple has a support page on the topic, which reads, in part:
“These precision manufacturing techniques and a rigorous inspection process ensure that these new iPad Pro models meet an even tighter specification for flatness than previous generations. This flatness specification allows for no more than 400 microns of deviation across the length of any side — less than the thickness of four sheets of paper.
The new straight edges and the presence of the antenna splits may make subtle deviations in flatness more visible only from certain viewing angles that are imperceptible during normal use. These small variances do not affect the strength of the enclosure or the function of the product and will not change over time through normal use.
If you believe your new iPad Pro does not meet the specifications described in this article, please contact Apple Support. Apple offers a 14-day return policy for products purchased directly from Apple. Apple also provides up to a one-year warranty on our products and will cover damage if it has occurred due to a defect in materials or workmanship.”
There you have it. Within 14 days, you can return your device to Apple for any and every reason, assuming you bought from them in the first place, so if that sub-400 micron bend bothers you can turn it in and pick up a flatter one from the shelf. If you decide to keep it, it’ll work just as well as any other tablet. If you’re out of the 14-day grace period, you’ll have to just deal with it unless your particular bend is more than 400 microns, and you can demonstrate it is their fault, not yours.
Lithium-ion batteries, such as the one powering your iPad, create a chemical reaction to produce power. However, as lithium-ion batteries age, this chemical process becomes less and less efficient as electrolyte decomposition occurs and electrolyte solvents on the anode and cathode start to produce ether and CO2. This phenomenon is called ‘outgassing’. It is not uncommon as batteries age, but it also causes lithium-ion batteries to swell, and in some unusual and extreme circumstances, this has led to the bending and warping of the aluminum iPad enclosure. This is also possible if your iPad happens to come new with a malfunctioning or defective Li-ion battery.
Aside from creating a bent iPad, outgassing in aging Li-ion batteries is a potential fire hazard, which is why if you’ve had your iPad for so long that it no longer charges above 80%, it’s highly recommended you have the battery replaced.
That’s everything you need to know about the possible curves that some iPads have straight out of the box or can be created internally over time — and to be honest, that can be any iPad, and an iPad Air has just as much potential to come with a slight curve as does an iPad Pro. But what about if you got a nice flat iPad and bent it yourself? There are a number of things that can cause bends in iPads— non-protected backpack rides, for instance, or using your tablet to hold up an unbalanced stack of textbooks.
Unfortunately, this is a problem that is difficult to fix. Our recommendation is to just deal with it, stick the iPad in its case, treat it more gently in the future, and avoid activities that will make the problem worse. If you’ve got AppleCare+, you can bring it in for a repair, but if you’re paying out of pocket, the repair cost may be close to the price of a new iPad.
Some iPad users have reported success with DIY fixes. Writing on Quota, one user recommends a pencil trick: balance the iPad bend side up on two pencils (one at each end). Then use your hand to provide careful light pressure, just enough to unbend the iPad. Rather than one heavy motion that does it all at once, you’ll want to aim for half a dozen gentle presses that, when added together, undo that bend on your iPad.
Another user has claimed successful results from laying their bent iPad on a hard surface, such as a table, between two sheets of microfibre, then placing a sheet of cardboard on top before stacking several heavy books, with the weight evenly distributed on top, and leaving the device that way for a couple of days. Their patience was apparently rewarded with an adequately straightened iPad.
You can also view this instructional video footage of straightening a bent iPad, in which a device with a pronounced bend in its enclosure backing is laid face down, bridged and supported on two cushions of soft PVC before firm pressure is applied to the device through the center, by hand, over periods of 30 seconds until straightened.
It’s obviously possible to unbend your iPad this way, but it does require a certain amount of skill and luck — and it’s very easy to go wrong and make the problem worse. Try it if you will, but be careful, and don’t blame us if your screen shatters after a too-vigorous push!
It’s fair to say that no material product is immune to the laws of physics or chemistry, and so it is with the iPad. An encouraging aspect of Apple’s products and its manufacturing ethos is a historical willingness to learn from and correct mistakes and unforeseen flaws when designing the next generation of the same product.
That said, new iterations of Apple devices, particularly the iPad, will continue striving to become evermore slender and lightweight simply because this has been identified as a key selling point among customers.
Since the 8th generation, the enclosure of the iPad has been made using a formulated aluminum alloy made from 100% recycled sources. However, for the past two years, there has been on-and-off discussion and rumors that Apple eventually plans to launch a range of mobile devices that replace the current aluminum alloy with titanium.
Titanium is relatively lightweight but has a tensile strength — roughly twice as strong as aluminum. It’s also more expensive, so it may be a material Apple eventually uses for the top end of its ranges, as indicated by the recent launch of the iPhone 15 Pro in September 2023, which features a titanium frame for improved durability.
As manufacturers of premium cases designed to perfectly fit and fully protect your iPad while enhancing its functionality, you won’t be surprised to learn that at ZUGU, we’re firm believers in prevention being better than cure. Wrap your precious iPad Pro in one of our robust, quality cases, and you can rest easy while your iPad travels with you.
Most slight bends in iPads won’t affect the user experience in the slightest, so just get yourself a high-quality case and continue to enjoy your iPad the same way you did when it was unbent. But whatever you do, don’t bring out the hammers!
To keep your iPad safe from getting bent in your bag or used as a bookshelf, invest in a ZUGU Case to keep it protected, functional, and looking brand new.