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Rumor: Apple ordering parts for new product made of carbon fiber - Page 2

post #41 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

I hope not, it's currently ridiculously expensive.  Even if they've found a way to scale the manufacturing, the cost would likely still be a problem.  Pure silver or gold would actually be cheaper right now from what I've read.  

I wish people would stop saying that. It's just not true.

Some Liquidmetal alloys are based on platinum and some are based on much less expensive materials. The most common alloy is under $15 per pound:
http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/2536/hasta-la-vista-titanium-liquidmetal-is-tougher
(The original article link is broken, but someone in this thread states:
"The article quotes a price of $12 - $15 per pound for the liquid metal, versus $6 - $15 per pound for titanium."

That is consistent with what we know. They make golf clubs and reasonably priced tennis rackets (under $60) from this stuff (although the tennis racket only has small pieces of LM). If they're making $60 tennis rackets using LM, there's no reason a $600 phone couldn't use it.

Let's explore. Let's say that the iPhone's backplate has 1 ounce of aluminum and you can replace that with double the weight of LM. So you've got $2 worth of LM in your iPhone. WORST CASE, your manufacturing cost goes up by 1%. However, Liquidmetal products are manufactured by injection molding rather than machining so there will be savings on machining cost. That would reduce (and maybe even eliminate) the cost differential. And it's certainly nothing like the cost of silver or gold (not to mention the fact that both of those metals are too soft to be the backplate for a phone unless you alloy them very heavily).

I strongly suspect that the reason it hasn't appeared in an iPhone yet is that Apple is still working out the manufacturing issues involved in making millions of pieces from this material. From talking with LM's engineers for a different project, creating a high volume manufacturing process is tricky and there are still some bugs to be resolved. The SIM ejector tools that Apple included in previous iPhones was presumably an experiment to get some experience working with the metal. There was no reason other than that.
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post #42 of 66

I wonder how they would handle the recycling issue. Carbon fiber isn't particularly recyclable currently. 

post #43 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by go4d1 View Post

First bikes were steel, then titanium, then aluminum - Not they're all carbon fiber.   - A carbon fiber iPhone will look great mounted on my Colnago!


Not counting the wheels, the first bikes were largely made of wood. Hollow steel tubes came next and still dominate. Aluminum, titanium and composite are mostly used in high end bikes. Bikes are most definitely not ALL carbon fiber. Don't make stuff up please.

post #44 of 66
I love carbon fiber, it can be shiny and gives an exclusive look and feel to any product that uses it. Oddly enough, I think that it's a material that is un-apple, precisely because it's very ostensible, but who knows what they might come up with. As the article precises, I find that using it for small parts would be more likely.
post #45 of 66

Seems like you've done some good research here.  In my defence, the "extremely high cost" was one of the main things that was brought up in every article about it when Apple bought the rights to the material.  

 

Also, it's the "scaling up to manufacture" and the fact that new manufacturing processes have to be developed, that would be the source of the high cost, no?  So while the material itself is not necessarily cost prohibitive in bulk and on paper, it's use in large scale manufacturing would likely be. 

 

Personally, I would love to see an iPhone with an organic shaped back made of liquid metal with zirconia crystal inlays for the radio windows.  I just get tired of people always saying "why don't they just use liquid metal" and in the same breath attributing properties to it that it doesn't actually have as if it were some magical panacea.  Thus my (perhaps overly) critical (and poorly researched) remarks. 

post #46 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Seems like you've done some good research here.  In my defence, the "extremely high cost" was one of the main things that was brought up in every article about it when Apple bought the rights to the material.  

Also, it's the "scaling up to manufacture" and the fact that new manufacturing processes have to be developed, that would be the source of the high cost, no?  So while the material itself is not necessarily cost prohibitive in bulk and on paper, it's use in large scale manufacturing would likely be. 

Exactly the opposite. For a high volume product, you have significant setup costs, but those costs become insignificant at higher volumes. It's the material cost (and the machine cost required for each piece in the traditional process) that drives the cost structure. If one can economically make a few thousand $60 tennis rackets using the product, it is undoubtedly economical to make millions of $600 phones using the product once the technical issues are resolved.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Personally, I would love to see an iPhone with an organic shaped back made of liquid metal with zirconia crystal inlays for the radio windows.  I just get tired of people always saying "why don't they just use liquid metal" and in the same breath attributing properties to it that it doesn't actually have as if it were some magical panacea.  Thus my (perhaps overly) critical (and poorly researched) remarks. 

That is reasonable - and inserting a zirconia window would not be difficult based on my understanding of the process.

However, in their defense, I have not been able to get a clear answer as to whether LM alloys are transparent to radio waves or not. There was some speculation early on that they might be transparent, although I've never seen that confirmed by anyone who really knows. My own guess is that the low cost LM alloys (at least) are not likely to be transparent to radio waves so your suggestion to insert a ceramic window will probably be necessary.
Edited by jragosta - 9/26/12 at 11:29am
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post #47 of 66
it is for the iphone 7
post #48 of 66
As someone else says, 15" MacBook Air, rumoured iPad 10" upgrade ('3' is thicker than 2) or even a transportable iMac 21" with a touch screen display that can be lifted from a dock and placed anywhere in the room - like a giant iPad but running OS X.
(Remember the rumours of a lean back iMac with a touch screen?)

Carbon fibre would make it lighter so easier to carry around the house, studio or room.
post #49 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post
...
However, in their defense, I have not been able to get a clear answer as to whether LM alloys are transparent to radio waves or not. There was some speculation early on that they might be transparent, although I've never seen that confirmed by anyone who really knows. My own guess is that the low cost LM alloys (at least) are not likely to be transparent to radio waves so your suggestion to insert a ceramic window will probably be necessary.

 

Given that it's really ordinary metal with a few trace elements in it (most of which are also metal) and that the only real innovation is the cooling/setting process, I would severely doubt that it is transparent to radio frequencies.  The only time I've ever heard anyone claim such it was just some random person on a forum who couldn't back it up.  

post #50 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by allenbf View Post

Question, how will a carbon fiber iPad/iPhone/iPod case feel??  Or even a Macbook?

 

I quite like the aluminum shells, it feels quality.  I really hope Apple doesn't do this, it'll feel like an Android phone.

 

Perhaps the "quality" feel you enjoy is the rigidity of the finished device compared to an HP laptop that feels all wonky.

post #51 of 66

As long as it's rectangular in shape with curved edges, that's all that matters

post #52 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Given that it's really ordinary metal with a few trace elements in it (most of which are also metal) and that the only real innovation is the cooling/setting process, I would severely doubt that it is transparent to radio frequencies.  The only time I've ever heard anyone claim such it was just some random person on a forum who couldn't back it up.  

Half right. I doubt that it's radio transparent - which is exactly what I said earlier.

The rest is wrong. It's not about a few trace elements and it has nothing to do with the cooling process. Liquidmetal remains liquidmetal regardless of the cooling process used.

Ordinary metals are crystalline. Metal atoms solidify into a crystalline lattice. The crystalline latice creates certain undesirable characteristics and the grain boundaries between crystal particles create more problems. Liquidmetal works by forming an alloy of different metals where the different metals (typically three different ones, IIRC) have atom sizes that are incompatible with crystal formation. That is, they atoms are different enough in size that there is no way for a uniform crystal lattice to form no matter what you do or how you cool it. Instead, as the metals cool and solidify, the metal atoms are distributed randomly and form a non-crystalline glass.
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post #53 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

I wish people would stop saying that. It's just not true.
Some Liquidmetal alloys are based on platinum and some are based on much less expensive materials. The most common alloy is under $15 per pound:
http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/2536/hasta-la-vista-titanium-liquidmetal-is-tougher
(The original article link is broken, but someone in this thread states:
"The article quotes a price of $12 - $15 per pound for the liquid metal, versus $6 - $15 per pound for titanium."
That is consistent with what we know. They make golf clubs and reasonably priced tennis rackets (under $60) from this stuff (although the tennis racket only has small pieces of LM). If they're making $60 tennis rackets using LM, there's no reason a $600 phone couldn't use it.
Let's explore. Let's say that the iPhone's backplate has 1 ounce of aluminum and you can replace that with double the weight of LM. So you've got $2 worth of LM in your iPhone. WORST CASE, your manufacturing cost goes up by 1%. However, Liquidmetal products are manufactured by injection molding rather than machining so there will be savings on machining cost. That would reduce (and maybe even eliminate) the cost differential. And it's certainly nothing like the cost of silver or gold (not to mention the fact that both of those metals are too soft to be the backplate for a phone unless you alloy them very heavily).
I strongly suspect that the reason it hasn't appeared in an iPhone yet is that Apple is still working out the manufacturing issues involved in making millions of pieces from this material. From talking with LM's engineers for a different project, creating a high volume manufacturing process is tricky and there are still some bugs to be resolved. The SIM ejector tools that Apple included in previous iPhones was presumably an experiment to get some experience working with the metal. There was no reason other than that.

Everything I've ever read about this describes it as an expensive alloy. It isn't just the materials, which ARE expensive, but also the process of making it. That is, making the alloy itself.

Golf clubs have very simple parts made of this, basically just a plate.

If it were so cheap and simple to use, then why hasn't Apple used it yet? After all, they haven't taken those licenses out for no reason. There was a phone that did use it for a couple of cover parts. But it didn't go well as a product.
post #54 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Given that it's really ordinary metal with a few trace elements in it (most of which are also metal) and that the only real innovation is the cooling/setting process, I would severely doubt that it is transparent to radio frequencies.  The only time I've ever heard anyone claim such it was just some random person on a forum who couldn't back it up.  

It's not "just ordinary metal", whatever that is, with "traces" of other metals. The other metals, are significant. That's like saying that SS is ordinary metal with traces of chromium and nickel.

There are various LM alloys, all are expensive when compared to most anything else.
post #55 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple II View Post

I'd like a retractable, carbon fiber stick to be built into my next iPad. Whenever necessary, I could take it out and hit Fandroids upside the head with it. It could also be used to fend off robbers on the subway who have a hard on for Apple devices nowadays.
I think a better solution would be an improved battery to go along with retractable stun gun contacts. Beating someone into submission is too time consuming, and besides, it's more fun to watch them writhe around on the ground instead.

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post #56 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post


Less rigid, unless Apple makes the products thicker, with more curve in the shells.


I'm curious what makes you say this. Various carbon fiber processes are used for tennis rackets, expensive bike frames, and most tripod leg sets in the $600+ range aside from those aimed at video (still camera tripods, those for binoculars or telescopes, etc). In the latter carbon fiber is favored for its lack of  its rigidity as it allows for thinner, lighter tubes, and its lack of resonance issues compared to aluminum.

post #57 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Everything I've ever read about this describes it as an expensive alloy. It isn't just the materials, which ARE expensive, but also the process of making it. That is, making the alloy itself.
Golf clubs have very simple parts made of this, basically just a plate.
If it were so cheap and simple to use, then why hasn't Apple used it yet? After all, they haven't taken those licenses out for no reason. There was a phone that did use it for a couple of cover parts. But it didn't go well as a product.

Instead of simply stating "everything I've ever read", why not provide some evidence?

I gave you a link which shows the price. I have also talked with them about a project I was working on. I have also shown $60 tennis rackets that include liquidmetal.

So why is it that you think "everything I've ever heard" (with no evidence or numbers) overrules that evidence?
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post #58 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

It's not "just ordinary metal", whatever that is, with "traces" of other metals. The other metals, are significant. That's like saying that SS is ordinary metal with traces of chromium and nickel.
There are various LM alloys, all are expensive when compared to most anything else.

And for the 100th time, that's not true. Some of the LM alloys are under $15 per pound - which puts them in the range of Titanium and some grades of stainless steel.

LM has been accepted slowly because design of the molds is very tricky and time consuming. Not because of the cost of the material.
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post #59 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmm View Post


I'm curious what makes you say this. Various carbon fiber processes are used for tennis rackets, expensive bike frames, and most tripod leg sets in the $600+ range aside from those aimed at video (still camera tripods, those for binoculars or telescopes, etc). In the latter carbon fiber is favored for its lack of  its rigidity as it allows for thinner, lighter tubes, and its lack of resonance issues compared to aluminum.

Different materials for different purposes. Sometimes movement is better. A friend of mine has two bikes, one is carbon fiber and the other is magnesium, I think. The carbon fiber bike has more give. When riding over rocks or roots, as they do all the time, the ride is softer.

I have the very first carbon fiber tennis racquet. This goes way back, and was very expensive. Compared to wood racquets, it was much stiffer. Not as stiff as metal racquets that came later.

My metal tripods are much stiffer than my carbon fiber one. When I extend the legs properly, I can barely get movement when pushing down on the head of the aluminum models, but the carbon fiber model moves appreciably. These are Gitzo's, not cheap models.
post #60 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Instead of simply stating "everything I've ever read", why not provide some evidence?
I gave you a link which shows the price. I have also talked with them about a project I was working on. I have also shown $60 tennis rackets that include liquidmetal.
So why is it that you think "everything I've ever heard" (with no evidence or numbers) overrules that evidence?

I don't know what project you say you're working with them on. I've seen a couple of those racquets. I'm not sure what the purpose of the metal is for there, as it just looks to be a very thin coating in a coup,e of areas.

I don't see that as being much evidence. Actually, finding out much anything about this material isn't easy. Most of the links I've had over the years are 404‘d out.
post #61 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

And for the 100th time, that's not true. Some of the LM alloys are under $15 per pound - which puts them in the range of Titanium and some grades of stainless steel.
LM has been accepted slowly because design of the molds is very tricky and time consuming. Not because of the cost of the material.

You can't seem to provide any more evidence than you say I'm providing, so don't get huffy here. You can quote other posters, but that means nothing. Someone might quote you, but so what?

And I'll tell you something, even $15 a pound, if true, is expensive. My processing equipment was very expensive. The Kodachrome machine we designed and had built had all 316L tanks, except for the bleach tanks, which were titanium. A single screw cost in tit cost several dollars. Sure, not just the cost of tit, but more expensive machining costs.

The problem with LM is material cost and processing cost. According to the company, you need their special molding machines. Apparently, despite what people say, this isn't usable in metal injection machines.

Then there is the problem of you not knowing which alloy Apple would need. You can't assume that the cheapest alloy would be just dandy. It could be the most expensive alloy that's most suitable. So you're making a number of unsupported suppositions here.

I suspect that its a combination of material cost, processing problems, and some other difficulty we don't know about that's preventing a quick usage.

But I don't know why Apple didn't just buy the company, and spin off the part they didn't want.
post #62 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

You can't seem to provide any more evidence than you say I'm providing, so don't get huffy here. You can quote other posters, but that means nothing. Someone might quote you, but so what?

Nonsense.

1. I provided a link to an article. The link is broken, but someone said they were quoting a price of $12-15 (which is in the $6-15 range of titanium) directly from the article - and no one challenged them on that quote.
2. I have personal experience.
3. I cited the fact that $60 tennis rackets use LM.

Those are all pretty strong evidence that LM is affordable under at least some circumstances.

What have you offered? Nothing but "everything I've heard" - which is not evidence at all.
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

And I'll tell you something, even $15 a pound, if true, is expensive. My processing equipment was very expensive. The Kodachrome machine we designed and had built had all 316L tanks, except for the bleach tanks, which were titanium. A single screw cost in tit cost several dollars. Sure, not just the cost of tit, but more expensive machining costs.

That's nice. First, $15 per pound is insignificant. The iPhone would use something like 1 ounce of metal, so you're looking at $1 for materials. And you'd save money on machining.

The cost of equipment is not that big a deal when you're manufacturing millions of units. If they can make the necessary equipment to allow them to sell tennis rackets containing LM for $60, why not phones that sell for $600 and up?
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

The problem with LM is material cost and processing cost. According to the company, you need their special molding machines. Apparently, despite what people say, this isn't usable in metal injection machines.

That is misleading - and I note that you still haven't provided any evidence to back up your claims. The real problem is mostly in the mold manufacture rather than the injection part itself (again, I have experience in working with LM and you don't). Furthermore, it's again a non-issue. If they can do it for $60 tennis rackets, why not for $600 phones?
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Then there is the problem of you not knowing which alloy Apple would need. You can't assume that the cheapest alloy would be just dandy. It could be the most expensive alloy that's most suitable. So you're making a number of unsupported suppositions here.

I'm not making any unsupported suppositions. I haven't made ANY claims about how much Apple would have to pay or what Apple's costs would be. I have been responding to your claim that it's horrendously expensive. My response is that it's not always horrendously expensive (although, as I've pointed out, it can be - if Apple were to choose the platinum-based LM alloy which is over $1500 per pound). You made a claim that it is too expensive for Apple to use and I've shown that your claim is not necessarily true.
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

I suspect that its a combination of material cost, processing problems, and some other difficulty we don't know about that's preventing a quick usage.
But I don't know why Apple didn't just buy the company, and spin off the part they didn't want.

Any number of reasons. Apple doesn't like owning companies that make hardware. Most of their acquisitions have been IP companies. Since they've got an exclusive license to use it, there's not much benefit in owning the company.
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post #63 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post


Different materials for different purposes. Sometimes movement is better. A friend of mine has two bikes, one is carbon fiber and the other is magnesium, I think. The carbon fiber bike has more give. When riding over rocks or roots, as they do all the time, the ride is softer.
I have the very first carbon fiber tennis racquet. This goes way back, and was very expensive. Compared to wood racquets, it was much stiffer. Not as stiff as metal racquets that came later.
My metal tripods are much stiffer than my carbon fiber one. When I extend the legs properly, I can barely get movement when pushing down on the head of the aluminum models, but the carbon fiber model moves appreciably. These are Gitzo's, not cheap models.

 

I'm quite familiar with Gitzo. The upper end of their carbon range is really quite sturdy though in my experience.  The aluminum tripods I've owned have shown a big of give. I've mostly owned the upper range of manfrottos including one of their older studio tripods with the geared center column. Their locks were never as rigid as Gitzo's, so it it may not be a fair comparison. Anyway regarding different materials for different purposes, they still work well for these things, and it may offer less wireless interference than aluminum. Other brands have also made carbon fiber work. I'm not sure which is more ecologically sound. I'd like it if they gave that some consideration when shipping millions of units.

post #64 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Nonsense.
1. I provided a link to an article. The link is broken, but someone said they were quoting a price of $12-15 (which is in the $6-15 range of titanium) directly from the article - and no one challenged them on that quote.
2. I have personal experience.
3. I cited the fact that $60 tennis rackets use LM.
Those are all pretty strong evidence that LM is affordable under at least some circumstances.
What have you offered? Nothing but "everything I've heard" - which is not evidence at all.
That's nice. First, $15 per pound is insignificant. The iPhone would use something like 1 ounce of metal, so you're looking at $1 for materials. And you'd save money on machining.
The cost of equipment is not that big a deal when you're manufacturing millions of units. If they can make the necessary equipment to allow them to sell tennis rackets containing LM for $60, why not phones that sell for $600 and up?
That is misleading - and I note that you still haven't provided any evidence to back up your claims. The real problem is mostly in the mold manufacture rather than the injection part itself (again, I have experience in working with LM and you don't). Furthermore, it's again a non-issue. If they can do it for $60 tennis rackets, why not for $600 phones?
I'm not making any unsupported suppositions. I haven't made ANY claims about how much Apple would have to pay or what Apple's costs would be. I have been responding to your claim that it's horrendously expensive. My response is that it's not always horrendously expensive (although, as I've pointed out, it can be - if Apple were to choose the platinum-based LM alloy which is over $1500 per pound). You made a claim that it is too expensive for Apple to use and I've shown that your claim is not necessarily true.
Any number of reasons. Apple doesn't like owning companies that make hardware. Most of their acquisitions have been IP companies. Since they've got an exclusive license to use it, there's not much benefit in owning the company.

You actually haven't offered anything other than a broken link, of which I have several, as I mentioned. But if you look at the machined back of the iPhone 5, you will see that this is far more complex than the simple parts of the racquets.

What I've been saying about the cost is that we don't know which alloy Apple would need, and so your supposition that it would be the cheapest one isn't supportable without some evidence that it would be so, which is something none of us can state. Likely, it would be something else, assuming Apple might want different characteristics than what is being used over the main material of the racquets. Perhaps for use as an antenna part, or for some transparency to radio waves, as some of the alloys offer some of that characteristic.

The point is that the average price of the alloys is pretty high, and without more information, we have to assume that one that would be best for Apple could be pretty expensive.
post #65 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmm View Post

I'm quite familiar with Gitzo. The upper end of their carbon range is really quite sturdy though in my experience.  The aluminum tripods I've owned have shown a big of give. I've mostly owned the upper range of manfrottos including one of their older studio tripods with the geared center column. Their locks were never as rigid as Gitzo's, so it it may not be a fair comparison. Anyway regarding different materials for different purposes, they still work well for these things, and it may offer less wireless interference than aluminum. Other brands have also made carbon fiber work. I'm not sure which is more ecologically sound. I'd like it if they gave that some consideration when shipping millions of units.

I've been using Gitzo's for almost 40 years, and have accumulated quite a range. None of my carbon models are as torsion free as the equivalent aluminum models. They also have problems and are not as reliable.

I'm not saying that carbon tripods aren't good. They are. But it's just a fact that they have more give.
post #66 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

I've been using Gitzo's for almost 40 years, and have accumulated quite a range. None of my carbon models are as torsion free as the equivalent aluminum models. They also have problems and are not as reliable.
I'm not saying that carbon tripods aren't good. They are. But it's just a fact that they have more give.

My days of strong interest in photography has passed but one thing that I've done and do do from time to time is to go hiking with camera in tow. Light weight becomes important then. The point being alternative materials can have their place.

I've taken an interest in machine tools at the hobbiest level, think work shop in the basement, and as such have developed a love hate relationship with castiron. Old fashion as it is cast iron makes for economical but sturdy machine tools. You have the option of aluminum and plastic tools these days but the feel of smooth running machine made of cast iron is hard to give up. What I'm getting at is the concept of a preferred material for a devices construction.

Now what does this have to do with Apple and carbon fiber? It is the idea that I don't believe they have found the preferred or optimal material yet for handheld devices. Aluminum is nice, but I actually like the glass on my iPhone 4. Carbon fiber is basically fiber reinforced plastic and as such not inspiring. At least it isn't in the examples I'm aware of these days. However I would not be surprised to find out that a plastic shell is Apples way to even thinner devices in that they could laminate the circuit board right to the shell / back or integrate things like antennas right into the shell.

In the end if Apple goes the route of carbon fiber it likely will be to gain benefits other than its mechanical qualities. If you look at current iPhone manufacture it is still traditional electronics in that you have a circuit board screwed to a metal chassis. Eventually I see electronics (portable devices anyways) moving away from this traditional arrangement. Your iPad or iPhone of the future could easily be a one piece device where the final device simply is a lamination of layers of functionality.

The machine tool industry gravitated to cast iron well over a century ago and really hasn't found anything that is better or more economical. The portable device industry though is an entirely different story, an optimal material and configuration has yet to be found. The fact of the matter is that the industry deals with compromises at any point in time.
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