Home Your IT Mobility Apple returns 8 million iPhones to manufacturer

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There is a strong rumour that Apple has sent back five to eight million 'faulty' iPhones to Foxconn, one of Apple’s main assemblers.

The model is not mentioned but we understand that it was the iPhone 5 which has a reputation for being hard to assemble and even harder to repair. Foxconn has complained that the anodised aluminium is easily scratched in the manual handling process.

But other rumours point the bone at the new Lightning connector and reports say that the female socket is prone to breakage. If this is the cause, i.e. a manufacturing or design defect then that would help explain the apparent high number of returns. In any case customers are complaining that the lightning connector does not always lock in when used with third party covers – “Not our problem” says Apple.

Yet another rumour is that iPhone 5 returns after purchase have been significantly higher than the 'norm' and resellers have simply been told to exchange them ‘no questions asked’. There have been issues with the device for sure, iOS updates, Apple Maps inaccuracy, Wi-Fi connection drop out, light leakage from the case, rattling inside, camera flare, screen flicker, unresponsive touch, battery drain and overheating batteries. The 8 million returns could just be the result of these faults, issues or even failure to meet expectations etc., since its launch in late September 2012. Simply put resellers don’t try and fix the phone – they just give you a new one and return the old ones en masse for a credit.

Another rumour points to a faulty batch but we don’t think this is the case – Foxconn are a good assembler and quality control should have picked this up before it got to Apple or its customers. This is more likely a PR spin than a reality “Blame a batch – not the device as a whole”.

Whatever the cause if this number is correct it is a significant failure rate for any product and will impact on Apples reputation and sales. Foxconn will no doubt have to fall on its contractual sword and fix the problem. Question is what to do with 8 million iPhones?

Next rumour – Apple releases low cost iPhone 5…


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!