Say what you want about iPhones, but when a new one comes out, plenty of people want one as quick as they can get their hot little hands on’em. But you might have to be sitting on your hot hands a little while longer. The reason there’s such a sluggish shipping pattern could be partly because of the pretty pretty aluminum Apple chose for the iPhone 5’s cases. It’s pretty, yes, but it’s also very scratchable, and now Apple is trying to deal with that issue.
Bloomberg says customers who were able to snag an iPhone 5 when it debuted last month were complaining about the easily nicked phones, some of which apparently arrived with scratches on them already. The aluminum casing makes the phone lighter and thinner, but it also is easily marred.
Reportedly, managers told executives at Foxconn that production standards needed to be tightened up, which has in turn slowed things down because it’s really, really hard to not scratch those things apparently. Workers say there are so many steps in the process of making a phone that that makes for even more moments when the phone could be scratched.
“The iPhone 5 is not easy to put together because it’s a minimalist design,” said Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne, Agee & Leach Inc. “Apple has a very high standard, where it aims to produce each model to be an exact replica where variance is measured in microns.”
Even though Apple sold 5 million iPhone5s off the bat, it would’ve sold more if there weren’t such supply constraints, says the company. And it seems there just aren’t enough of the right parts coming down the line in the future, which means less phones can be shipped in the future as well.
Customers aren’t going to be too happy if the scratch factor continues, however. Bloomberg cites several iPhone owners who complained of scratches and nicks right out of the box. And while that’s okay in the daily life of a phone, most consumers expect that a brand new product should come shiny and nick-free.
Apple responded by saying some of that is just gonna happen.
“Any aluminum product may scratch or chip with use, exposing its natural silver color,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president for global marketing, wrote in a note, posted by 9to5Mac.com. “That is normal.”