back to article 'iPhone 5 is so easily scratched we just can't get them out the door'

Foxconn boss Terry Gou has said that the iPhone 5 is tricky to make and that he is shipping out "far fewer" than Apple has asked for. Gou, boss of Hon Hai, parent company of Foxconn, said he was struggling to keep up with orders for the iPhone 5, in remarks at a local economic forum reported by the Wall Street Journal. …

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  1. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Hi, I'm trying to reconcile the headline

    'iPhone 5 is so easily scratched we just can't get them out the door'

    with the article

    Gou... ...wouldn't explain which part in particular was causing the problem

    If Anna Leach doesn't write the headline, it doesn't seem fair to saddle her article with it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well

      They got mine to me in pristine condition and on time, so is this just an excuse or is it to make the phone more desirable as a marketing ploy?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well

        Still a three to four week wait on orders on the on line store, either they have been inundated or can't make enough?

        You choose.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well

          If Apple could make them and ship them they would - the reality is either demand is higher than expected and / or they cannot make them fast enough.

        2. John 104

          Re: Well

          @AC

          We have a lot of iPhone fans here in the office. I have yet to see the new 5 in anyones hands though...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Well

            You probably have but they just look the same as iphone 4 and 4s its hard to tell unless you look close

      2. vic 4

        Re: a marketing ploy

        Hardly good marketing is it? If the factory that makes them can';t help but scratch them whats the average punter going to think? True teh scratches may just be on the inside and only affect the manufacturing

        rocess but that does not come across in the article.

        1. Steve I
          Facepalm

          Re: a marketing ploy

          By Jove, you're right! It *doesn't* mention if the scratches are on the inside or outside! In fact, it doesn't say that scratches are the issue AT ALL!

      3. Psyx

        Re: Well

        "They got mine to me in pristine condition and on time, so is this just an excuse or is it to make the phone more desirable as a marketing ploy?"

        Well, yeah: The non-pristine ones aren't getting out of the factory door, I imagine.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just make sure that when you fondle it...

      ...you wear silken gloves, and that you're prepared for it to go off in your hand. Same goes for the iPhone too.

    3. Pamplemoose
      FAIL

      Were you actually expecting something resembling journalism rather than just yet more Apple related clickbait from El Reg?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Design goals 101...

    1) Design must be manufacturable

    2) Design must be sellable

    3) Design must be profitable

    Did apple forget #1?

    The only IPhone5s I've seen have all been encased in 5mm thick protective cases, the owners desparate to protect them. So what's the point of Apple trying to make them into items of jewellery if they end up hidden behind layers of hideous rubber and plastic?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Design goals 101...

      Mines encased in a Gumdrop because I work on sites, all my phones have been in a case.

      However, when I sell it next year I will get top dollar for a pristine second hand phone.

      1. Jolyon Smith
        Mushroom

        Re: Design goals 101...

        Which when installed in the case that the new owner uses to ensure it remains in pristine condition, will be indistinguishable from a scuffed, scratched and utterly unpristine phone(*).

        All this does is establish that iPhone owners are shallow and vain (whether they are the prima donna's willing to pay over the odds for a new phone, or the background performers happy to take sloppy seconds), more interested in the shiny shiny than the can-do can-do. They give Mac users a bad name.

        *(assuming the scuffing and scratching isn't on the screen itself, which a screen protector will take care of preventing, quite easily)

    2. g e
      Facepalm

      What's the point?

      Profit, presumably. They don't give a stuff what you do with them after they have your money.

      1. Anonymous ‌Coward
        Facepalm

        Re: What's the point?

        ... and this is different from other companies?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Design goals 101...

      They wanted it lightweight and that means a easily available lightweight metal. Aluminium fits the bill, except it is soft.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Design goals 101...

        [pedantry begins]

        Aluminium, as any fule kno, is very soft in its pure state. Suitably heat treated and alloyed, it is quite hard. Unfortunately the cycle of manufacturing, machining while cold, and then heat treating, is rather expensive.

        You get good results by bending sheet aluminium, which is why most cases which use it (like the Asus on which I'm typing this) use sheet metal. But then you cannot claim the thing is made out of a single piece of metal.

        You can make the surface of aluminium harder with heavy anodising but then you cannot get the sharp edges.

        This is why other, more sensible manufacturers make their mobile devices out of a magnesium alloy chassis with a suitable polymer injection moulded around it. Strong, light, withstands deformation, just not quite as pretty.

        Sympathy for Apple? Nonexistent. Sympathy for Jonathan Ives? Zilch. British industry used to be overloaded with products which were supposed to show off engineering cleverness rather than be well designed from a functional point of view, like the awful Austin Rover integrated gearboxes, the dreadful Enfield drive that was the bane of so many glass fibre boats, Concorde, Evening Star (the locomotive), any number of motorcycle designs, and the Doxford marine engine. On the other hand you had a company which made stuff which worked practically forever by simply concentrating on the best possible engineering. Of all of these, only the last (Rolls-Royce) is still around. I wonder why?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Design goals 101...

          "[pedantry begins]..."

          Whether this story is bullpuckey or not, I thoroughly enjoyed your rant, sir. Hurumble!

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Design goals 101...

          Hold on a moment, are you seriously comparing Apple stuff - which if you search for any objective survey of brand reliability consistently rate highly - to 1970s British vehicles? Okay...

          Hell, that was the time motorcycle dealers would place a drip tray under British bikes with leaky sumps and quickly whip them under a Japanese bike when a customer approached. Britain once exported left hand drive car with only one door lock- on the right hand door!

          You say that Rolls Royce concentrated on the engineering, yet they trained the chauffeur mechanics to never say 'broken down' but rather 'failed to proceed'. What's that if not brand management? Yes, they were beautifully engineered (my mechanic, out of curiosity, tested how long a RR cylinder would keep its compression... absolutely bloody ages*), but that sort of over-engineering is possible if you're charging 400% more than a mass market model, instead of say 20%**. RR have survived not because they were competitive, but because there will always be an ultra rich elite who don't know the meaning of the phrase 'diminishing returns'. Witness the failure of Merc's Maybach in China, where it just wasn't a Rolls.

          *His favourite of the vehicles he gets to service is a Bentley Blue Train Racer... nominally a two seater, but has a rear seat at ninety degrees for the butler, who mixes drinks from the integrated cocktail cabinet for the driver and navigator. Fantastic!

          **Or, according to Tom's Hardware, next to 0% if built with like for like components, and that's not including the cost of the OS and included software. Exchange rates might have shifted since they wrote that report, but not by orders of magnitude.

        3. Charlie Clark Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Design goals 101...

          You, sir, are a cad! Steam trains is definitely off-limits!

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Design goals 101...

          some of RR's best engines were Bristol-Siddeley's - eg Olympus, Pegasus

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Design goals 101...

            >some of RR's best engines were Bristol-Siddeley's - eg Olympus, Pegasus

            One of the more entertaining trademark disputes from a few years back... some bloke fitted a RR Merlin aircraft engine to a home made car chassis. The body work was based on a Ford Capri, and he had fitted it with a grill from a real Rolls Royce, until the company complained!

            http://www.spainvia.com/merlincar.htm

            It does one 1 KM to the litre... rods to the hogshead, etc.

        5. Christian Gerzner

          Re: Design goals 101...

          "On the other hand you had a company which made stuff which worked practically forever by simply concentrating on the best possible engineering. Of all of these, only the last (Rolls-Royce) is still around. I wonder why?"

          That's easy: Rolls is, and has for some time, been owned by BMW (and uses the BMW V12 engine - by any other name). Oh, and Bentley is actually owned by VW, and mostly uses VW parts, including all of the engine. It's very successful too - even though it's largely a copy of the pretty unsuccessful VW Phaeton.

          1. Chemist

            Re: Design goals 101...

            " Rolls is, and has for some time, been owned by BMW"

            Hint : There is another RR who make MUCH more powerful engines & nuclear reactor cores

            I think the one you are referring to is called RR Motor Cars

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Design goals 101...

          Let's also not forget the Allegro's square steering wheel and the Maestro/Montego's talking dashboard.

          But yes, you can treat aluminium to harden it etc, but on the iPhone the material must very thin, it must be almost like bacofoil.

        7. Boris Winkle
          Megaphone

          Re: Design goals 101...

          If you're going down the vehicle route, then I have to add a vehicle with the rolls Royce..

          Land Rover Series are still aplenty, and they are made of aluminium..

          (Damn spellchecker trying to change aluminium to the US spelling... **** OFF!).

    4. DougS Silver badge

      iPhone cases

      I've owned a 3gs, a 4S and now a 5, and never used a case. I did send the 3gs flying across the sidewalk a few months before parting with it thanks to a drunk falling into me from behind, which scuffed the corner and back a bit but only caused about a $40 difference in selling price less than what I would have received if it was in perfect condition.

      My 4S got the highest price when I sold it last month on Amazon and had nary a mark. My girlfriend has a 4S with no case and has dropped it on concrete several times over the past year which has left it nicely scuffed on the sides and corners but so far no glass damage. She finally learned her lesson and no longer tries to talk on the phone, carry a cup of coffee and walk the dog all at once :)

      Now its true most iPhone owners I see have them in cases, but that's true for any phone as I see cases on most Androids too. The funniest thing is seeing phones that have shattered (but still functioning) screens that are in cases that are themselves damaged to the point of hardly staying on the phone. I wonder what the hell these people are doing to their poor phones!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Design goals 101...

      "they end up hidden behind layers of hideous rubber and plastic?"

      Sounds rather attractive !

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This story and those like it are simply lies we just don't believe anymore.

  4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Just call it a design feature

    Each iPhone has a mathemtically unique fingerprint of fractal generated surface features which make it special just to you.

    1. Zaphod.Beeblebrox
      Trollface

      Re: Just call it a design feature

      Nay, just market them as "pre-scratched" phones - if you do it right and make it somehow fashionable they should sell as well as "pre-washed/stone washed/acid washed" jeans did some years back. The fanbois will probably fall for it...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: market them as "pre-scratched" phones

        There's a cottage industry grown up around "relicing" guitars ("to relic" - make a guitar look like some old blues guy has been touring with it since the fifties, Hendrix torched it in the sixties, etc.).

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: market them as "pre-scratched" phones

          Give it to a 5year old for 5mins and tell them to "be careful" with it ?

      2. Captain DaFt

        Re: Just call it a design feature

        Getting there, but you have to use "Market Speak" and call them "pre-stressed" instead of "pre-scratched".

        1. g e
          Joke

          Noooo use hipster-arty-farty-architect speak

          And called it 'distressed'

  5. John Tserkezis

    Am I missing something....

    ...or is Apple the ONLY one who's complaining their phones are getting scratched during manufacture?

    They're not the only ones being made at Foxconn, so can't really blame them.

    Apple cite "exacting tolerance requirements", but I don't buy that, it's a cellphone FFS, not a space shuttle part.

    It's smellling more and more like a marketing ploy to justify their long lead times.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Am I missing something....

      "Apple cite "exacting tolerance requirements", but I don't buy that, it's a cellphone FFS, not a space shuttle part."

      Some parts of modern high-end portable CE needs to be made within micron tolerances these days, terrifyingly. If you look into it, you might find it a little alarming.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Am I missing something....

        >Apple cite "exacting tolerance requirements", but I don't buy that, it's a cellphone FFS, not a space shuttle part.

        Generally mass produced items have very high tolerances... look at the humble ring-pull on a can of fizzy pop. Any thinner, ad you'd have cola spilt in your bag; any thicker and you wouldn't be able to open it.

        1. TheRealRoland

          Re: Am I missing something....

          High tolerance, or low tolerance? To me, the more precise a part needs to be, the lower the tolerance should be?

  6. Peter Simpson 1
    Coat

    I *will* not buy this iPhone 5...

    ...it is scratched!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I *will* not buy this iPhone 5...

      Please.. fondle... (etc.)

  7. cyke1

    eh

    "It's not the first time we've heard the line that iPhone sales have been held back because it's so innovative."

    Apple hasn't been innovative since ipad was released and before that it was first iphone. Its been marginal updates to each device, nothing major changed each one. And cause that the competition has cault up and passed them in the market in new and better phone that was 3 months older.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: eh

      'Apple hasn't been innovative since ipad was released and before that it was first iphone'

      There, fixed that for you

    2. John 104

      Re: eh

      @cyke1

      Apple innovation? Since when has apple, aw, fuckit. nevermind. :)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: eh

      >Apple hasn't been innovative since ipad was released

      If innovation is bringing a touch-screen interface to a desktop computer, that's a good thing for Mac users.

      I have yet to hear what bells and whistles people expect a new phone to posses.

      I'm a long time WinPC user, and as such MS have brought me X amount of exasperation. So many little things leave me asking "WHY?!" Maybe it's a 'grass is always greener' syndrome, but I can't see the point of judging things with prejudice. Good ideas are good ideas, regardless of where they come from.

      Take OSX's Fusion Drive, which isn't hardware SSD/HD combo drive (as most commentards thought at the time) but actually a Logical Volume Manager:

      http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/10/more-on-fusion-drive-how-it-works-and-how-to-roll-your-own/

      True, its not really really innovative, since ZFS features similar features... but if it ain't that hard, why have MS merely given us Storage Spaces? Why did Apple have TimeMachine years before Win 7 incorporated an imaging back up solution (and then one that would fail half way through because you had neglected to turn off MS's own AV software)?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    cynical ploy

    i'd say this is just a cynical ploy to ensure the Apple brand and iPhone are mentioned in th tech

    press...its been too quiet for them this week. got to keep their name in your head somehow.

    if the device is too prone to scratching/damage then thats a big -ve for me

    1. Ted Treen
      FAIL

      Re: cynical ploy

      Wrong ploy:

      Writing crap which thrills the Apple-haters and gets Apple zealots all of a quiver is a cynical ploy to ensure Leach doesn't become a bag lady sometime soon...

  9. GotThumbs
    Happy

    Easy solution and new "Color" option. Buff off all the anodized finish and..

    polish the aluminum to a mirror finish. You may still get some scratches in time, but those can be buffed out at your nearest Apple store. Instant trend craze.

    btw. Apple, I just patented that idea and you WILL owe me millions if you use my idea. :->

    Have a good day. :->

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Easy solution and new "Color" option. Buff off all the anodized finish and..

      Burnished aluminium iPhone? Pah! Limited edition of 250, silver-plated Tiffany-co-branded, Sony Walkman housed in a locked teak box:

      http://www.stereo2go.com/displayForumTopic/content/284595872989081010

      Looking at its accessories, I'm reminded of how many Walkmans and MD players (and not just Sony's) had the nifty screw-on case for an AA battery for when your propriety battery died. Pity that never made it to mobile phones...

  10. JaitcH
    FAIL

    If this Apple product is 'so delicate' is it even fit for daiily use?

    Perhaps Apple has outfoxed Foxconn with it's mania to achieve the impossible? Could this be the time Foxconn says to Apple: "YOU make it!". Of course, Apple makes next to nothing.

    If it is so difficult to handle the case in production, how can it handle the daily rough and tumble of even a suited office worker's pocket, let alone people in more challenging physical pursuits?

    And, if it is so difficult to make, just how feasible is it to repair? Apple doesn't make 'green' stuff, it's service depot is the large dumpster outside the back door.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hard black anodized?

    Can someone tell me if those aluminum parts are hard black anodized? Ta.

  12. fuggedaboutit
    Alert

    What do you mean, you can't get them out the door?

    Time to crack the whip on that slave labor Foxconn.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only hear from Apple when there is something to shout about.

    When sales are dismal, it's all quiet on the western front, and attempt to hide the numbers by mixing them up into other products...

    (iPad Mini/iPad4)..

    In the same way Microsoft only ever talk about XBox US sales, and never Euro or global numbers, because we all know it's not looking very rosy.

  14. sabroni Silver badge

    @ Dave 126

    I didn't read the post as comparing apple products to 70's British cars, I thought it was saying both had the same focus on "clever" over-engineering rather than viability and practicality. If Foxconn are saying iPhones are too tricky to make then that does imply Apple didn't engineer it sensibly.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: @ Dave 126

      >If Foxconn are saying iPhones are too tricky to make then that does imply Apple didn't engineer it sensibly.

      You're right. Point taken. However, Apple have little choice to get clever with materials and innovation in order to placate the 'analysts', media and a good number of commentards who moan about the lack of 'innovation' that is no longer possible in a mature sector. Apple's decision to get 'clever' was carefully considered, whereas the eccentric nature of some British engineering has different causes.

      Mobile phones are becoming mature products, and advances now are incremental rather than astounding. Many phones these days are packed to the gills with every useful form of radio, sensors, cameras, good screens and over-powerful processors. What else can be fitted into a pocket-friendly form factor, in a way that anyone can operate it? I think the fact that Samsung's Note with a stylus is considered a stand-out tablet only reinforces this.

      When Apple made 'Wow!' inducing products, it was by inserting the iconic product into still-youthful sectors, be it MP3 players or PDAs/phones. Being 'first' allowed them some advantages, and they didn't waste a chance to make money.

      People who want 'innovation' should no longer be looking at phones or tablets, but at the next mass-market must have device... Something that isn't possible to make economically now, but will be if current advances in processor and battery technology (or sensors, flexible screens, storage or whatever) continue. Google's Project Glass is an example of something that might fit in this category (if it were to catch on in the same way, which is far from certain!)

      1. Peter 48

        Re: @ Dave 126

        I think the future lies in the development of augmented reality (google goggles etc) and hands free use (kinect, google now/siri) combined with portable computing platforms that serve multiple functions (asus padphone)

      2. Robert Grant
        Thumb Down

        Re: @ Dave 126

        "...the 'analysts', media and a good number of commentards who moan about the lack of 'innovation' that is no longer possible in a mature sector."

        Well at least we got some feedback from the IE6 project manager.

  15. Christian Gerzner
    Meh

    Really?

    "It's not the first time we've heard the line that iPhone sales have been held back because it's so innovative"

    Should that, perhaps, read "... so impractical"? If they can't get it right in the factory, what chance has the average fanboi got?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well now we know

    Ha, Apple device not up to "scratch".. Whoda thought.

    AC/DC

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poor manufacturing and shoddy design

    Haven't Apple heard on plastic cover sheets?

    A lot of softer materials are supplied with peel off plastic cover sheets to protect them; so why can't the manufacturer do this, and only peel off the sheets after assembly and close to packing?

    Personally, it strikes me as shoddy design and material selection that these units can get so easily be scratched; hardly appropriate for a premium product!

  18. Peter 48

    innovation?

    " iPhone sales have been held back because it's so innovative" - innovative would have been developing a design that is manufacturable and robust enough to make it to the point of sale intact. Which the iPhone 5 clearly isn't. If you want innovation you should look at the people who actually have a mountain of real patents such as LG, HTC, Sony, Samsung and even microsoft. People who actually invest in R&D instead of lawyers and marketing

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple's marketing machine is a wonder!

    It makes, normally rational, people buy phones which are inferior to competitors offerings!

    Its either brainwashing or their customers are not so clever in the first place.

  20. Patrick R
    Facepalm

    See this report from octobre.

    You mean ... we just wasted 1 minutes of your time because you already knew that.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The obvious thing would be to have a clear plastic 'sticker' coating over the aluminium from when the unit is first milled until the customer removes it - isn't that the case or do they arrive in the box 'naked'...?

    Then again, I have a Proporta 'aircraft' aluminium case on an old iPaq 2210 - it's slightly textured and seemingly as hard as nails - no scratches on it at all (probably because of the texturing - similar to 'linen' pattern stainless steel sinks)

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