Quality issues with iPhone 5's aluminum chassis slows production, report says

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Apple's decision to use lightweight anodized 6000 series aluminum for the iPhone 5's uni-body chassis has caused some units to show signs of wear out-of-the-box, prompting stricter quality control measures that have negatively impacted production yields, one insider says.

Scuffgate
Source: @rollermog via Twitter


A person familiar with the new production standards told Bloomberg that senior Apple managers instructed Foxconn executives to tighten quality control measures shortly after the iPhone 5 launched in September.

Just hours after Apple's sixth-generation iPhone was released for public consumption, some consumers began to complain of nicks and scratches on their brand new handsets, sparking a small controversy dubbed "scuffgate."

The report echoes a report from last week that claimed workers at Foxconn's Zhengzhou factory went on strike over newly instituted quality control requirements and denial of vacation time. Though the Chinese manufacturer later denied the claims, the initial report noted that Apple had mandated a lower tolerance for so-called "indentations," bringing acceptable limits down to 0.02mm. Other preventative measures to ensure scratch-free iPhones were also said to be in place.

Foxconn representatives said its plants are running at full capacity, and no slowdown in iPhone 5 production has been reported. However, workers told Bloomberg that the handset's soft metal shell is prone to scratches in all phases of assembly, making it difficult to deliver a perfect final unit. As a result, fewer aluminum chassis passed through the tightened quality control standards, further constricting the iPhone's already short supply.

According to a person familiar with Foxconn's supply chain, production was halted at the company's Shenzhen factory due to lack of adequate housings. Foxconn officials denied any such work stoppage, and said production is instead increasing, though they declined to comment on specific customers.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 70
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member
    No doubt at all that the black one scuffs very very easily. The silver/white is definitely more durable. If you go without a case, wrapping it is an absolute must or it will look like crap. I started going caseless with my black one and have 3-4 tiny little nicks around edges and one tiny scratch on back- already (and I was extremely careful). My wife's white, on the otherhand, just goes in her purse and she doesn't take as good of care (although still good)- not a scratch or ding.

    Just something to think about if you're buying one in the future.

    Needless to say, I got a catchif case for $9 for both of us until my wrap comes in- fits perfect and is super thin. Hate covering up this beauty. :-(
  • Reply 2 of 70


    Hi AndySol,


     


    Are you saying your wife has the iPhone 5 in white? I noticed you mentioned about the durability of it, but you said you had a black one.. Thanks


     


    Dan.

  • Reply 3 of 70


    Are any news that Apple is going to change the material (for white) and/or the depth of anodic treatment (for black) ?

  • Reply 4 of 70
    herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,221member
    I would used a transparent case if I had that phone. That way you can protect it and still see it.
  • Reply 5 of 70


    I don't see what all the fuss is about. I have a black one. I've already dropped it a few times. The nicks on the corners are barely visible and honestly compared to my old iPhone 3GS, it's still a significant improvement.


    I think when it comes to scratches, my finger print smudges on the screen and the back is far more visually distracting than any scratches so far on my phone!

     

  • Reply 6 of 70
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    What's the big deal?

    Just don't hold it.
    Any way.

    ;-)
  • Reply 7 of 70
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Hmm seems to me this is a meme the media created and they're running with it. I mean if this phone was that difficult to manufacture wouldn't that have been addressed a long time ago? Or does Foxconn need Apple's business so badly they do whatever Apple wants no matter how challenging?
  • Reply 8 of 70


    After using my old iPhone 4 without a case for over a year and my 5 for a few weeks, I can say that the new phone is MUCH more prone to scuffs and scratches even in white.

  • Reply 9 of 70


    I must say that after many iPhones that this is the first one out of the box that had some damage.  In fact it looked exactly like the nick in the picture above.  Now, I did carry the phone on several trips for a week or so prior to getting my Speck case and I have no additional visible scratches.  But I was very careful not to drop it.  Very very happy with this phone.

  • Reply 10 of 70
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    After using my old iPhone 4 without a case for over a year and my 5 for a few weeks, I can say that the new phone is MUCH more prone to scuffs and scratches even in white.
    Him ive had my white phone for two weeks now and not a scratch to be found. Of course I am careful with it and don't throw it in a pocket with keys or coins.
  • Reply 11 of 70
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,129member


    Form over function as usual for Apple. No question, it's a beautiful device, but mine is scratched to hell already.

  • Reply 12 of 70
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,571member


    The backplate of the unibody structure on my white iPhone 5 had a tiny nick in it fresh out of the box (i.e., I took the plastic off, and it was already there). I don't, however, have any nicks anywhere else on the device after a few weeks of using the device without a case (got mine on the 21st).


     


    My wife's black iPhone 5, OTOH, has a noticeable nick on the top right corner. Only took one day for it to show up and she didn't even drop it. She is now using a bumper case on it.

  • Reply 13 of 70
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    My white one is fine. Not that I care. Every year we've heard about how this or that was going to get damaged easily. You simply don't hear that about cheap products because no one cares. I haven't used a case o my iPhone 4 for nearly 2 years and have dropped it many, many times. There is one corner that is scuffed from a bad fall but it surprisingly minor. If you really care then use a case or buy a phone that is build less like jewelry.

    Now if you are buying it because of it's refined form and it's coming from the factory with damage then by all means get it replaced but I assume most don't care too much. I certainly haven't given mine a close enough look to see if there is any factory damage.

    gtr wrote: »
    What's the big deal?
    Just don't hold it.
    Any way.
    ;-)

    Steve Jobs from beyond the grave, "You're holding it... period."
  • Reply 14 of 70
    After using my old iPhone 4 without a case for over a year and my 5 for a few weeks, I can say that the new phone is MUCH more prone to scuffs and scratches even in white.

    Great - I'm glad I'm forced to wait due to contract. If its not fixed by then I'm waiting for the next gen . Totally fine with the 4S. Don't need a remote control in my pocket anyway. More surface- more to nick.
  • Reply 15 of 70
    saarek wrote: »
    Form over function as usual for Apple. No question, it's a beautiful device, but mine is scratched to hell already.

    Recall?

    Why didn't Apple use titanium?
  • Reply 16 of 70


    This story should be good for at least another $20 drop in share price.

     

  • Reply 17 of 70


    Improve the anodising...

  • Reply 18 of 70
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    saarek wrote: »
    Form over function as usual for Apple. No question, it's a beautiful device, but mine is scratched to hell already.
    Scratched to hell? What are you doing with it? I've had the white for 2 weeks and not a nick or scratch on it. Ok I left the protective film on the back (just trimmed off the top where the camera is) but the band and everything else is exposed and still looks perfect. I don't know how the phone can be "scratched to hell" unless you have it a pocket or handbag rattling around with keys and/or coins. And then the question becomes why would anyone do that knowing that metal can scratch.
  • Reply 19 of 70
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    This story should be good for at least another $20 drop in share price.

     
    And whoever wants the stock to drop will make sure more stories like this come out.
  • Reply 20 of 70
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    andysol wrote: »
    No doubt at all that the black one scuffs very very easily. The silver/white is definitely more durable. If you go without a case, wrapping it is an absolute must or it will look like crap. I started going caseless with my black one and have 3-4 tiny little nicks around edges and one tiny scratch on back- already (and I was extremely careful). My wife's white, on the otherhand, just goes in her purse and she doesn't take as good of care (although still good)- not a scratch or ding.
    Just something to think about if you're buying one in the future.
    Needless to say, I got a catchif case for $9 for both of us until my wrap comes in- fits perfect and is super thin. Hate covering up this beauty. :-(

    The "white" model doesn't use color on the band, so any nicks would be much less noticeable. The stainless band on the 4 and 4S don't show any marks from use very easily because there is no coloring, but mine will show plenty of marks from a couple drops.

    Improve the anodising...

    Apple has used anodized parts before, several generations of Nano and Shuffle were anodized aluminum. I think the faceplate of the Classic was anodized aluminum. I wonder how much of this is extra scrutiny from the users.
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