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Apple's decision to use lightweight anodized 6000 series aluminum for the iPhone 5's uni-body chassis has caused some units to show signs of wear out-of-the-box, prompting stricter quality control measures that have negatively impacted production yields, one insider says.
A person familiar with the new production standards told Bloomberg that senior Apple managers instructed Foxconn executives to tighten quality control measures shortly after the iPhone 5 launched in September.
Just hours after Apple's sixth-generation iPhone was released for public consumption, some consumers began to complain of nicks and scratches on their brand new handsets, sparking a small controversy dubbed "scuffgate."
The report echoes a report from last week that claimed workers at Foxconn's Zhengzhou factory went on strike over newly instituted quality control requirements and denial of vacation time. Though the Chinese manufacturer later denied the claims, the initial report noted that Apple had mandated a lower tolerance for so-called "indentations," bringing acceptable limits down to 0.02mm. Other preventative measures to ensure scratch-free iPhones were also said to be in place.
Foxconn representatives said its plants are running at full capacity, and no slowdown in iPhone 5 production has been reported. However, workers told Bloomberg that the handset's soft metal shell is prone to scratches in all phases of assembly, making it difficult to deliver a perfect final unit. As a result, fewer aluminum chassis passed through the tightened quality control standards, further constricting the iPhone's already short supply.
According to a person familiar with Foxconn's supply chain, production was halted at the company's Shenzhen factory due to lack of adequate housings. Foxconn officials denied any such work stoppage, and said production is instead increasing, though they declined to comment on specific customers.