Apple’s Choice of Aluminum Slowing Down iPhone 5 Production


Bloomberg reports the production of iPhone 5 units have been hampered due to Apple’s decision to use a choice of aluminum that is lighter, but more easily scratched:

Apple Inc.’s iPhone 5 supply shortfall is being exacerbated by a quality-control crackdown at Foxconn Technology Group that’s designed to cut the number of devices shipped with nicks and scratches, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The iPhone 5 is one of the lightest smartphones thanks to its aluminum backing, which has been susceptible to scratches and nicks out of the box. Bloomberg notes Senior Apple managers told Foxconn to tighten their production standards, which has been the rumoured cause of riots and employee dissatisfaction:

Stricter benchmarks have hampered production of the iPhone 5’s anodized aluminum housings, forcing Foxconn’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. to idle factories, the person said. The slowdown is heightening supply concerns that have cost Apple about $60 billion in market value since the iPhone debut — a shortcoming of the drive to imbue products with qualities that make them alluring yet more difficult to manufacture.

The aluminum being used is the same as Apple uses for its MacBook line up, known as “anodized 6000 series aluminum.” As quality controls ramped up by Foxconn for better yield rates, fewer housings met standards, lowering supply and causing shortages of parts at Hon Hai (Foxconn) warehouses, which eventually led to stoppage of iPhone 5 production for a day, according to sources.

Bloomberg interviewed assembly line workers of the aluminum housings and they noted pressure has intensified due to stricter standards, but they reiterated the new aluminum backing was more delicate and prone to scratches throughout the assembly process.

Our own iPhone 5 came with a scratch on the back right out of the box, which was a common theme for numerous iPhone owners as well. Apple has since replaced our cosmetically defective unit with a new one. Apple executive Phil Schiller noted in an apparent email scratches are expected on aluminum  products.

How was the condition of your new iPhone 5 out of the box? Did you see any scratches or nicks?


  • BrodieTheDog

    My first iPhone 5 came with what looked like tool marks on the front bezel in all 4 corners. It also had a defective batterie. My second iPhone 5 came with a nick on the front bezel near the center on the left side. When I brought it up, in person at an apple store. I was told they would replace it and was givin a card saying one was ordered and I would get a call when it came in. I got the call. When we opened the box at the apple store. Naturaly I checked it for any imperfections. Sure enough. It was also showing tool marks. The very rude apple employee said. “Well we are not just goin to open iPhones untill we find

  • BrodieTheDog

    Continued.. an undamaged iPhone 5. That was unacceptable and I have since received an undamaged one. It took talking to a regional manager. The point is that quality control is not up to par. Speaking from my own experience of coarse.


    First iPhone 5 out of the box had a burr (a small raised bump) right about where the defect is in the pic above, Best Buy employee replaced it right away, second iPhone 5 out of the box was flawless. I learned to inspect any Apple after taking my first iPhone 4S home, finding a cosmetic issue and having a hassle getting it replaced (thankfully it was eventually replaced).

  • Networx

    Mine was perfect. Guess I got lucky. It came out of the box and went into a Caze case and hasn’t come out since.

  • Ditto.

  • Josh Lee

    Got a white iphone 5 on launch day, it was perfect. Haven’t bought a case yet and its still perfect.

  • Settons

    Got a black 16GB on launch day and it was perfect. It has been in an Otterbox ever since.

  • crosseyed_mofo

    my condolences, id prefer a smashed iphone instead of an otterbox 😉

  • djepsilon

    My first iPhone 5 came with a nick on the front fascia and light leakage at the top. The aluminum was actually in pretty good shape. Called Apple, got them to ship a new one. The new one has a tiny little gouge in the aluminum at the back, but it doesn’t bother me enough to do anything about it!

  • mine was ok , just look again and it’s perfect, no sign of anything.
    No light on top of screen near border of the phone, as I’ve seen in other post, but my battery drains fast …
    I live on south shore of montreal …

  • lol