Amongst the several complaints lodged against the newly released iPhone 5, it is perhaps most difficult to ignore the continuous flow of claims that iPhones are shipping with scuffs, nicks, chips and scratches – even before removing it from the box. It appears Apple's decision to revert back to an aluminum design has resulted in an easily blemished handset, but customers are likely to hear no apologies from Apple on the matter – just a statement which asserts the scuffing is "normal". Or is it?
Bloomberg reports that Apple is taking quality-control to the next level by pushing Foxconn to tighten production standards, primarily due to those blemish concerns. Purportedly, those higher standards have also further slowed production, compounding Apple's recent supply issues stemming from display shortages and Foxconn management / worker troubles. One Foxconn factory actually had to shut down production for an entire day, according to Bloomberg's sources.
"Apple has a very high standard, where it aims to produce each model to be an exact replica where variance is measured in microns." Shaw Wu said, an analyst at Sterne, Agee & Leach Inc.
This isn't the first time we've heard of exacting standards slowing down Chinese manufacturers. Microsoft's Surface, an upcoming tablet which touts an incredibly thin 9.3mm profile, has also been suffering manufactory issues due in part to micron-sized tolerances and difficulty working with aluminum.
The iPhone 5's anodized 6000 series aluminum (or so Apple calls it) is also the same metal used for Macbooks; however, there is no word if Macbook production has also been affected. Apple churns out far more iPhones and iPods than Macbooks though, so this is less likely to be a concern.