Apple blames iPhone 6s battery problems on air exposure during manufacturing

Posted:
in iPhone
Elaborating on an unfolding issue with iPhone 6s shutdowns, Apple on Friday linked the problem to gaffes during the manufacturing process.




"We found that a small number of iPhone 6s devices made in September and October 2015 contained a battery component that was exposed to controlled ambient air longer than it should have been before being assembled into battery packs," Apple wrote on its Chinese website. "As a result, these batteries degrade faster than a normal battery and cause unexpected shutdowns to occur."

The company insisted "this is not a safety issue," presumably concerned that people could draw comparisons with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which was taken off the market because of battery fires and explosions.

iPhones are designed to shut down automatically under some conditions to protect electronics from low voltage, Apple added.

Apple recently began a battery swap program, allowing owners of affected iPhone 6s units to get their device fixed for free, or a refund if they previously paid out-of-pocket. On Thursday, the company introduced a Web tool for checking for a qualifying serial number.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,182member
    Well at least Apple can figure out their issue. Samsung on the other hand...well they have no clue what happened, or why it happened.
    ericthehalfbeetmaybaconstangmike1watto_cobramejsricargonaut
  • Reply 2 of 32
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,566member
    It's not blame but science behind it. Have you seen clean room control policy and restrictions ? If you screw-up exposing those facilities than expect some short of issues in products. Whether you manufacture chips or TV in China/Taiwan, strict policy must be adopted/enforced for clean room facility.
  • Reply 3 of 32
    "... a battery component that was exposed to controlled ambient air longer than it should have been before being assembled into battery packs."

    Excess exposure to air. This not only demonstrates the complexity of working with the latest technologies, but also explains why copy-cat smartphones by companies that scrimp on engineering are often less reliable, less capable and possibly unsafe.
    macxpressrandominternetpersontmaylkruppmagman1979watto_cobra[Deleted User]jony0
  • Reply 4 of 32
    macxpress said:
    Well at least Apple can figure out their issue. Samsung on the other hand...well they have no clue what happened, or why it happened.

    Or they know exactly what happened, but aren't saying because of embarrassment.  
    tmaybaconstangmagman1979watto_cobra[Deleted User]
  • Reply 5 of 32
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,452member
    wood1208 said:
    It's not blame but science behind it. Have you seen clean room control policy and restrictions ? If you screw-up exposing those facilities than expect some short of issues in products. Whether you manufacture chips or TV in China/Taiwan, strict policy must be adopted/enforced for clean room facility.
    Read about the early manufacturing of transistors at Fairchild and Intel. Common atmospheric pollutants and pesticides wreaked havoc while developing the processes.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 32
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,351member
    Does this help Samsung solving the Note 7 mystery?  American technology knowhow is superior! 
  • Reply 7 of 32
    tshapitshapi Posts: 344member
    macxpress said:
    Well at least Apple can figure out their issue. Samsung on the other hand...well they have no clue what happened, or why it happened.

    Or they know exactly what happened, but aren't saying because of embarrassment.  
    My thoughts exactly.  It's fairly simple. It's about marketing and PR and research and development. 

    If you notice everything that goes into an iPhone probably has been played with in some manner for at least a year or two. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 32
    wood1208 said:
    It's not blame but science behind it. Have you seen clean room control policy and restrictions ? If you screw-up exposing those facilities than expect some short of issues in products. Whether you manufacture chips or TV in China/Taiwan, strict policy must be adopted/enforced for clean room facility.
    Are batteries assembled in clean rooms?  I thought that was for the CPUs, RAM, and other integrated circuit stuff.
  • Reply 9 of 32
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,351member
    macxpress said:
    Well at least Apple can figure out their issue. Samsung on the other hand...well they have no clue what happened, or why it happened.

    Or they know exactly what happened, but aren't saying because of embarrassment.  
    They don't know.  Otherwise they will not release a replacement that failed again. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 32
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,566member
    williamh said:
    wood1208 said:
    It's not blame but science behind it. Have you seen clean room control policy and restrictions ? If you screw-up exposing those facilities than expect some short of issues in products. Whether you manufacture chips or TV in China/Taiwan, strict policy must be adopted/enforced for clean room facility.
    Are batteries assembled in clean rooms?  I thought that was for the CPUs, RAM, and other integrated circuit stuff.
    Now a days, most of components and circuit boards manufactured in clean room. Final product assembly may be done in typical assembly line environment.
    edited December 2016
  • Reply 11 of 32
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,775member
    Way to get to the root cause of the failure in a professional, scientific way.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 32
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,182member
    Doesn't Apple design their own batteries? I thought they had chemists that designed batteries for their products. I think this is how they get all of these weirdly shaped batteries in some of their products. If true, I'm sure this helps immensely when battery issues arise. I'd think its easier for Apple to pinpoint an issue if they designed the battery, versus getting one from a 3rd party that they designed. 
  • Reply 13 of 32
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,182member
    macxpress said:
    Well at least Apple can figure out their issue. Samsung on the other hand...well they have no clue what happened, or why it happened.

    Or they know exactly what happened, but aren't saying because of embarrassment.  
    Like someone else said though...then why would they release a replacement phone that did the same thing? Or did they figure it out after the second failure but didn't want to say and just recalled the phones to cover it up. I guess maybe it was easier to coverup the issue by buying back all of the phones versus explaining what happened. Either way, it looks really bad on them. If they have a major issue and can't figure it out that doesn't put a lot of confidence in me for buying their products. They're selling products they can't fix. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 32
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,933member
    macxpress said:
    Doesn't Apple design their own batteries? I thought they had chemists that designed batteries for their products. I think this is how they get all of these weirdly shaped batteries in some of their products. If true, I'm sure this helps immensely when battery issues arise. I'd think its easier for Apple to pinpoint an issue if they designed the battery, versus getting one from a 3rd party that they designed. 
    Apple has its own scientists etc and they also contract a lot stuff from third parties. Apple can influence the design or do the whole thing in house but the only way you can build huge quantities is by contracting manufacturers to do the work. It's not infrequent for Apple to invest in those companies to assure they have both the machinery and the capacity to meet demand.

    If manufacturing screws up, there isn't much Apple can do about it. Likewise if a batch of raw materials doesn't meet technical requirements.

    That said, traceability has reached the highest levels ever in manufacturing and greatly helps to determine the units affected by any manufacturing problem.

    What is curious about this case is that they have given a clear answer (putting the blame on the manufacturing process). Of course, that makes us ask why the problem wasn't detected earlier and remedied in situ. It was definitely logged clearly. Perhaps it was part of an automated process and just wasn't detected sooner or perhaps someone thought the impact wouldn't be so serious to the end user or, in a worst case scenario someone just ignored the issue hoping that the affected numbers of users would be so small as to be statistically insignificant. 
  • Reply 15 of 32
    My wife's 6s qualifies for the replacement battery however it's never shut down unexpectedly. 

    Part of me thinks a new battery would be good to have; preventative maintenance should it develop problems later. But another part of me thinks "if it ain't broke...". 

    Hmmmm...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 32
    My wife's 6s qualifies for the replacement battery however it's never shut down unexpectedly. 

    Part of me thinks a new battery would be good to have; preventative maintenance should it develop problems later. But another part of me thinks "if it ain't broke...". 

    Hmmmm...

    Worst case scenario you get a new battery to replace a year-old one.  I'd do it.  In fact I am doing it since I qualify, but my phone has shut down unexpectedly a small number of times (when around 15-20%).
    watto_cobraargonaut
  • Reply 17 of 32
    avon b7 said:
    macxpress said:
    Doesn't Apple design their own batteries? I thought they had chemists that designed batteries for their products. I think this is how they get all of these weirdly shaped batteries in some of their products. If true, I'm sure this helps immensely when battery issues arise. I'd think its easier for Apple to pinpoint an issue if they designed the battery, versus getting one from a 3rd party that they designed. 
    Apple has its own scientists etc and they also contract a lot stuff from third parties. Apple can influence the design or do the whole thing in house but the only way you can build huge quantities is by contracting manufacturers to do the work. It's not infrequent for Apple to invest in those companies to assure they have both the machinery and the capacity to meet demand.

    If manufacturing screws up, there isn't much Apple can do about it. Likewise if a batch of raw materials doesn't meet technical requirements.

    That said, traceability has reached the highest levels ever in manufacturing and greatly helps to determine the units affected by any manufacturing problem.

    What is curious about this case is that they have given a clear answer (putting the blame on the manufacturing process). Of course, that makes us ask why the problem wasn't detected earlier and remedied in situ. It was definitely logged clearly. Perhaps it was part of an automated process and just wasn't detected sooner or perhaps someone thought the impact wouldn't be so serious to the end user or, in a worst case scenario someone just ignored the issue hoping that the affected numbers of users would be so small as to be statistically insignificant. 

    Makes me think that they only recently discovered that the reported problems correlated with the air quality/air exposure data and determined the root cause.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 32
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,351member
    My wife's 6s qualifies for the replacement battery however it's never shut down unexpectedly. 

    Part of me thinks a new battery would be good to have; preventative maintenance should it develop problems later. But another part of me thinks "if it ain't broke...". 

    Hmmmm...
    I would wait until it happens.  
  • Reply 19 of 32
    macxpress said:
    Well at least Apple can figure out their issue. Samsung on the other hand...well they have no clue what happened, or why it happened.

    Or they know exactly what happened, but aren't saying because of embarrassment.  
    Most probably. If no hardware issue has been detected then the blame is on Android and the excess heat it creates.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 32
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,348member
    williamh said:
    wood1208 said:
    It's not blame but science behind it. Have you seen clean room control policy and restrictions ? If you screw-up exposing those facilities than expect some short of issues in products. Whether you manufacture chips or TV in China/Taiwan, strict policy must be adopted/enforced for clean room facility.
    Are batteries assembled in clean rooms?  I thought that was for the CPUs, RAM, and other integrated circuit stuff.
    This isn't a clean room thing as much as it is a molecular contamination of the li-ion battery chemistry.  Very VERY specific environments are required for handling the compounds related to manufacturing LI-ion batteries.  

    The "exposure to air" could be anything from a container left unsealed too long between batches, shifts, etc. or a moron opening a door at the into a room at the wrong time.  It's a quality control  issue, ultimately.

    The batteries are defective.  Their capacities are probably greatly reduced.  The cell voltage drops off so fast the phone can't calculate the remaining life before the phone just shuts down.  
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