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Apple's iPhone 5c uses unique design, precision manufacturing to avoid 'plastic' stigma

post #1 of 179
Thread Starter 
With the iPhone 5c, Apple was able to deliver a cost effective plastic smartphone with a "premium" feel by applying its considerable expertise in design, engineering and manufacturing to the project, a process highlighted during Tuesday's special media event.

iPhone 5c
Source: Apple


Allaying concerns that the colorful iPhone 5c would feel "cheap," Apple introduced a device that can be described as substantial, an adjective not typically associated with a plastic smartphone. Equally impressive is the build process required to make a more affordable device without sacrificing the hallmark qualities that have become synonymous with the iPhone brand.

Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller, who unveiled the 5c on Tuesday, briefly spoke of the company's efforts, though a video shown during the presentation offers a behind-the-scenes look at the advanced manufacturing tech. The short clip was subsequently uploaded to Apple's official YouTube channel.

iPhone 5c
Polycarbonate pieces ready for steel frame insertion.


A common problem with many plastic smartphones is a lack of rigidity when compared to metal devices like the outgoing iPhone 5 its replacement, the iPhone 5s. To overcome this issue, Apple employs a new construction method that attaches a steel reinforced sub-structure to a hard-coated polycarbonate shell.

As in many Apple designs, a single component can serve more than one purpose, and the steel frame is no different. With the 5c, the metal structural element is also used as a multi-band antenna, a design scheme previously seen in the iPhone 4 and 4S. The steel skeleton is inserted into a single, seamless piece of polycarbonate and secured with a bonding agent.

iPhone 5c
One side of steel reinforcement assembly being installed.


In the video, Apple's SVP of Design Jony Ive notes that the pairing of a steel reinforced frame and one-piece polycarbonate shell creates a "bespoke assembly."

iPhone 5c
Frame serves as a multi-band antenna.


Finishing off the frame is a metal rear plate that not only serves as a platform for the logic board and other circuitry, but adds rigidity to the structure as well.

iPhone 5c


From there, the shell moves on to a CNC machine that drills precise holes for the iPhone's physical controls. Because the manufacturing method is subtractive rather than additive, the integrity of the polycarbonate outer layer is less likely to be compromised.

iPhone 5c
CNC machine drilling out slots for physical controls.


Next up is a finishing process that requires multiple passes, including a clear lacquer hard coat which Ive says creates a durable and glossy surface. While the durability of the iPhone 5c has yet to be verified, a video from August claims to have put a "leaked" outer casing through a battery of scratch resistance tests. The outcome was largely favorable.

iPhone 5c
One step in a multi-pass polishing process.


Not shown in the video is the installation of functional components like the logic board and Gorilla Glass screen assembly, which itself adds even more stiffness.

"This whole process culminates in an extraordinarily rigid structure and a solid, dense feel that you would not expect from a plastic product," Ive says in the video.

AppleInsider was able to spend some hands on time with Apple's iPhone 5c, and we concur that the unit does feel substantial.

Preorders for the iPhone 5c will open on Sept. 13 ahead of a simultaneous iPhone 5s launch on Sept. 20. AppleInsider has learned that the iPhone 5s will not be available to order prior to in-store sales, possibly suggesting Apple anticipates supply constraints for the flagship device.
post #2 of 179
it's still plastic..
post #3 of 179
It is magical plastic.
post #4 of 179
...and better by design than anything dysung could ever dream of producing. It'll sell millions.
post #5 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by thecnguy View Post

it's still plastic..

With all the effort they put into it and the price they decided on, I'm surprised they didn't simply use iPod Touch grade anodized aluminum for the shell.

I see no benefit to the use of plastic considering Apple likely intended all along to price the device at $550.
post #6 of 179

To emerging markets and large families, it's a better iPhone 5 at half the price.

It will sell like crazy and with a healthy margin for Apple.

 

It's a beautiful phone that people will love for the colors and the new user interface.

If you think about it, the 5C is actually better overall than any competing smartphone out there at any price except the 5S.

The 5C will be flying off of store shelves.

post #7 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackbook View Post

With all the effort they put into it and the price they decided on, I'm surprised they didn't simply use iPod Touch grade anodized aluminum for the shell.

I see no benefit to the use of plastic considering Apple likely intended all along to price the device at $550.

I was wondering that myself. Damn iPod touches look so good. Why didn't they make the C line lime them?

Also how hard is it to achieve iPod touch thinness for the iphone? Aren't they basically the same? Anyone?
post #8 of 179
Initially my first reaction was I was extremely disappointed with the price - but Im over that now.
This is the best of the plastic offerings out there and will not disappoint people who buy on a 2 year upgrade cycle. It makes sense for Apple to have an offering in this end of the market without sacrificing the brand or quality.
Was it ever going to be cheap ? We hoped so but nah, that didn't make sense.

They still have the wow factor in 5s and people have a choice.
Carriers have more flexibility now in their offers - I think it will sell well.
post #9 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleSauce007 View Post

it's a better iPhone 5 at half the price.

If only it was actually half the price of the 5.

Aside from that, remember the 5C is the same price the 5 would have been for consumers this year anyway. The only one the 5C is cheaper for is Apple presumably.
post #10 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beluga View Post

I was wondering that myself. Damn iPod touches look so good. Why didn't they make the C line lime them?

Also how hard is it to achieve iPod touch thinness for the iphone? Aren't they basically the same? Anyone?

With technology nowadays a phone the thinness of the Touch is not impossible. Apple is probably waiting till the 6 to launch a phone that thin though.

Anyway I'm still not seeing the benefit of using plastic other than saving Apple manufacturing cost.

In reality they could have still had healthy margins with a colorful anodized aluminum phone similar to the Touch. At most an iPod Touch based iPhone should only cost $450. Seeing as Apple had planned on charging $550 I don't see why they instead didnt take the Aluminum Touch route.
Edited by blackbook - 9/11/13 at 1:45am
post #11 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobM View Post

It makes sense for Apple to have an offering in this end of the market without sacrificing the brand or quality.

Apple has always had a phone in this price range since 2009. Higher quality phones than this!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobM View Post

Carriers have more flexibility now in their offers - I think it will sell well.

Carriers have had more than 1 iPhone to offer for 4 years.

The 5C brings nothing new to the table and doesn't address any new markets for Apple. That being said I agree it'll sell well.
post #12 of 179

These articles crack me up. They're almost apologetic without actually being so, after years of attacking other "plastic" phones. Oh but now it's ok, because Apple is doing it. Yeesh.

 

And from what I can tell, they don't look any more "premium" or "substantial" than the Lumia line, who's colors are a far cry more attractive I daresay. What is with Apple designers and this washed out pastel nonsense? My blue iPod Mini was gorgeous, but these things? They look like Easter through the eyes of a Valium addict.

post #13 of 179

There are a lot of stuff that I don't understand, here.

 

1 - This phone has better build quality than the galaxy note, s4, etc. Don't want it? Buy the 5s or the htc one.

2 - Who the f*ck said that the 5c was suppose to be a cheap phone? Not Apple. So if you are stupid enough to be angry about that, be angry at analysts.

3 - I should've waited for the 4S.

post #14 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beluga View Post

Also how hard is it to achieve iPod touch thinness for the iphone? Aren't they basically the same? Anyone?

The iPod Touch 5th gen is basically the same as an iPhone 4S minus the phone components. The problem is that even those components themselves don't take up a lot of space (including the antenna which as we all know Apple cleverly incorporates into the frame) adding them necessitates that the battery capacity needs to be increased substantially to provide a usable experience. A larger battery of course leads to a thicker device. There is a 1030mAh battery in the iPod Touch 5th gen versus 1440mAh for the iPhone 5.

post #15 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by thecnguy View Post

it's still plastic..

 

..."effective plastic smartphone with a "premium" feel"...

 

Sure it's plastic. But it has that "premium" feel. See the difference?

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post #16 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackbook View Post
In reality they could have still had healthy margins with a colorful anodized aluminum phone similar to the Touch. At most an iPod Touch based iPhone should only cost $450. Seeing as Apple had planned on charging $550 I don't see why they instead didnt take the Aluminum Touch route.

 

To distinguish it from iPod Touch, to have a glossy finish and to be able to highlight the new manufacturing process designed just for this cool device in the marketing push. 

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post #17 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackbook View Post


With all the effort they put into it and the price they decided on, I'm surprised they didn't simply use iPod Touch grade anodized aluminum for the shell.

I see no benefit to the use of plastic considering Apple likely intended all along to price the device at $550.

 

The problem is aluminum shell blocks most of electric field on wireless mobile and GPS signals. Even the current ipod touch needs to make an opening on the upper part of back shell (and capped by black plastic plate) for wifi signal.

 

Starting from iPhone 4, Apple cleverly used the insulated metal frame as wireless antenna. So no more signal blocking happen on iPhone 4, 4S, 5 and 5S.

post #18 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by houseley View Post

To distinguish it from iPod Touch, to have a glossy finish and to be able to highlight the new manufacturing process designed just for this cool device in the marketing push. 

I'd rather the 5C be distinguished from other manufactures of whom all have colorful polycarbonate smartphones.

The only company with an anodized aluminum phone is HTC.
post #19 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleSauce007 View Post

To emerging markets and large families, it's a better iPhone 5 at half the price.
It will sell like crazy and with a healthy margin for Apple.

It's a beautiful phone that people will love for the colors and the new user interface.
If you think about it, the 5C is actually better overall than any competing smartphone out there at any price except the 5S.
The 5C will be flying off of store shelves.

I agree. That's exactly right. People forget about families and how now days kids --and I literally mean kids-- and now getting cellphones from their parents. I can see kids wanting the iPhobe 5c. It's going to be an explosion I'm telling you. People are complaining about it just like they did when Apple first released the iPad, but you just wait. This phone is going to sell. You just watch!
post #20 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by pedromartins View Post
 

There are a lot of stuff that I don't understand, here.

 

1 - This phone has better build quality than the galaxy note, s4, etc. Don't want it? Buy the 5s or the htc one.

2 - Who the f*ck said that the 5c was suppose to be a cheap phone? Not Apple. So if you are stupid enough to be angry about that, be angry at analysts.

3 - I should've waited for the 4S.

 

I totally agree with you.  Everyone except Apple kept saying they needed a "cheap" phone.  Well, Apple doesn't do "cheap", but their version of a "cheaper" phone is a far-cry better option than the cheap plastic Android crap that is out there.  I remember all the articles about how cheap the build quality was with Samsung's Galaxy phones, and even Fandroids were complaining about it.  I haven't seen the 5C in person yet, but from what I see being published, not only is it still a much better-built phone than the competitors, it will sell well.

And the iHaters and whiners infesting this thread will continue to publish their lies in the hope someone believes it as fact.

post #21 of 179
Apple can say anything it wants about using some special plastic, but the bottom line is everyone in the entire smartphone industry believes plastic is just plastic and they've already determined Apple to have jumped the shark with the iPhone 5C. Apple is sitting on close to $150 billion in reserve cash which no other tech company on the planet comes close to and this is what Apple's solution is. I don't think it makes much of a difference as long as the guts inside are of high-quality, but this whole plastic thing makes Apple look like a fraud and Apple loyalists look like fools for laughing at Samsung and the rest of the plastic Android smartphone makers.

I'm beginning to understand why Wall Street hates Apple with a passion. The company is just cutting far too many corners for its vast amount of wealth and is allowing companies with far less wealth to build products that are just as good in quality and probably better in specs. Apple should be building the finest smartphones on the planet without question. Apple is rapidly becoming the laughingstock of Wall Street and the smartphone industry. That's why the stock is so poorly valued and shareholders are being totally screwed.
post #22 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackbook View Post

With technology nowadays a phone the thinness of the Touch is not impossible. Apple is probably waiting till the 6 to launch a phone that thin though.

Anyway I'm still not seeing the benefit of using plastic other than saving Apple manufacturing cost.

In reality they could have still had healthy margins with a colorful anodized aluminum phone similar to the Touch. At most an iPod Touch based iPhone should only cost $450. Seeing as Apple had planned on charging $550 I don't see why they instead didnt take the Aluminum Touch route.

Here we go again.

Aluminum is cold, hard, brittle and sharp. This has appeal when you want to convey or experience "precision."

Plastic is warm, soft, resiliant and curvaceous. This has appeal when you want to go for fun and lovability.

Maybe easier for you: plastic is sexier. If you're still having trouble, I can go into more detail.

By the way, the plastic-plus-metal reinforcement/antenna architecture has a long and flexible future, and will get much less expensive once they have their production chops down.
post #23 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackbook View Post


With technology nowadays a phone the thinness of the Touch is not impossible. Apple is probably waiting till the 6 to launch a phone that thin though.

Anyway I'm still not seeing the benefit of using plastic other than saving Apple manufacturing cost.

In reality they could have still had healthy margins with a colorful anodized aluminum phone similar to the Touch. At most an iPod Touch based iPhone should only cost $450. Seeing as Apple had planned on charging $550 I don't see why they instead didnt take the Aluminum Touch route.

 

1.  Using plastic cuts the cost significantly without losing features.

2.  Using plastic allows for colorful phones that teenagers will love.

3.  A family of six is much more likely to buy 6 iPhones when they can save $600 and have the Find my iPhone feature to find their kids.

post #24 of 179
I see that Constabe Odo is still confusing Apple's architectural statement in plastic and metal with Samsung's lazy use of plastic that reaembles an insect's carapace. Couldn't be more different.
post #25 of 179

The 5c is going to sell and sell and sell. It's so gorgeous looking, I was thinking about getting one myself; until I saw how fantastic the 5s is.

I kinda wish you could get the 5s in the same colours/shell/case as the 5c, but I think regular folk are gonna just be all over the 5c as it stands.

 

On a related note, in the past few weeks I've noticed a lot of people who have moved from another platform to iOS getting an iPhone5 as their first iPhone, I'm guessing people coming to end of contracts trading up. I can only see this trend increasing going forward.

post #26 of 179

Because iPhone 5c needs to be $450/free for 2yr contract next year.

post #27 of 179

I'll take an iPhone 5 on clearance/sale any day over the week over the 5C. Not impressed with that cheap-looking thing at all. The 5S nice, though.

post #28 of 179

well i think the reason why they couldn't launch this as a 4s replacement is because of the physical limitations of the 4s. (A5, no LTE, etc).

Next year though, the iPhone line will be very interesting. They might discontinue the 5s for the 6? But I think they're more likely to keep 2 Gens in each category, so you'll have iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 for the high end, and the 5C and 5CS ??? for the mid end, at the prices of the current 4s.

post #29 of 179

It may be stronger than normal, but it is the most plastic looking plastic case I have seen for a long time. Looks really tacky.

 

The one good thing Apple did do was not make this device as cheap as people expected. Apple has worked hard to forge a reputation for having premium products. They cost a bit more but you can rely on them for performance and durability. Producing a "for the same price as" phone to compete with cheap offering from other makers would have been a bad move IMO. 

post #30 of 179

Lol, it's just plastic! :lol: By the way look at AAPL price! $445!!! I guess the markets doesn't like too much this "extraordinaire plastic"!

post #31 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackbook View Post

If only it was actually half the price of the 5.

Aside from that, remember the 5C is the same price the 5 would have been for consumers this year anyway. The only one the 5C is cheaper for is Apple presumably.

Of course you can equally say, 'gosh the amazing iPhone 5S isn't even twice the price of a the humble 5C' 1cool.gif
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post #32 of 179
Hey Samsung has something to copy now that Apple shows them how to do plastic right. 1biggrin.gif
post #33 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post
 

These articles crack me up. They're almost apologetic without actually being so, after years of attacking other "plastic" phones. Oh but now it's ok, because Apple is doing it. Yeesh.

 

And from what I can tell, they don't look any more "premium" or "substantial" than the Lumia line, who's colors are a far cry more attractive I daresay. What is with Apple designers and this washed out pastel nonsense? My blue iPod Mini was gorgeous, but these things? They look like Easter through the eyes of a Valium addict.

All those years!!!. Apple manufacturing process of injection molding and finishing in 40 years old and done but just anyone in this business.. No innovation there. Using "edge" gate method of delivering molten plastic to the cavity is the cheapest  and lowest end of part gating. No innovation there either. So my question is: what is the big deal???. It is still cheap plastic manufactured by cheap methods. BFD

post #34 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by dnd0ps View Post

well i think the reason why they couldn't launch this as a 4s replacement is because of the physical limitations of the 4s. (A5, no LTE, etc).
Next year though, the iPhone line will be very interesting. They might discontinue the 5s for the 6? But I think they're more likely to keep 2 Gens in each category, so you'll have iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 for the high end, and the 5C and 5CS ??? for the mid end, at the prices of the current 4s.

I'm getting too old ... the years past so fast these days these things come by seemingly monthly to me ... I always get my wife's cast off iPhones and I get her the latest for Christmas (which come around every six months it seems). I had a senior moment last night trying to remember what phone I had, and what I needed to download from the developer site for my phone's iOS 7 GM ... I really had no idea what I was currently using there for while! 1oyvey.gif

Just so long as they keep it few and simple ... We don't want to return to the Sculley days of Apple product diarrhea and nomenclature complexity ... leave that to Scamsung.
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post #35 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleSauce007 View Post

To emerging markets and large families, it's a better iPhone 5 at half the price.
It will sell like crazy and with a healthy margin for Apple.

It's a beautiful phone that people will love for the colors and the new user interface.
If you think about it, the 5C is actually better overall than any competing smartphone out there at any price except the 5S.
The 5C will be flying off of store shelves.

How is it better? The iPhone 5 would've been the same exact price regardless.
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post #36 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by NelsonX View Post

Lol, it's just plastic! lol.gif By the way look at AAPL price! $445!!! I guess the markets doesn't like too much this "extraordinaire plastic"!
$445? Where?
post #37 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

Hey Samsung has something to copy now that Apple shows them how to do plastic right. 1biggrin.gif

As I said, the same 40 years old manufacturing methods used by everyone. Since Samsung and others made plastic phones before Apple did, then Apple is copying everyone.

post #38 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackbook View Post

With all the effort they put into it and the price they decided on, I'm surprised they didn't simply use iPod Touch grade anodized aluminum for the shell.

I see no benefit to the use of plastic considering Apple likely intended all along to price the device at $550.
Because an iPhone in an iPod touch like casing would have some potential 5S buyers get the $100 cheaper 5 instead.

All these people hating on plastic I guess forgot the 3G and 3GS were plastic. By all accounts the 5C has better build quality than either of those phones.
post #39 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post


$445? Where?

It was $445 when I looked 30 minutes ago. Now it's $482.

post #40 of 179
Quote:
Originally Posted by NelsonX View Post

It was $445 when I looked 30 minutes ago. Now it's $482.
It's pre market, will probably come back a bit before the market opens. It's obviously down because the Gene Munster's of the world got it wrong when they thought Apple would do a super cheap phone.
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