iPhone 5 so easy to scratch, factory can't meet shortages

Shortages of the iPhone 5 are down to the anodised aluminium it's made of, which is causing problems for factory workers.

Shortages of the iPhone 5 are down to the material it's made of -- which is so easy to mark and scuff that factory workers are reportedly struggling to build them to a standard that's up to scratch.

Factory workers are finding it difficult to keep the iPhone's anodised aluminium casings pristine enough to meet Apple's lofty standards, Bloomberg reports. And unfortunately that's significantly slowing production.

Because of the casing's propensity to scratch, Apple has tightened standards at the Chinese Foxconn factories where the iPhone and many other consumer devices are built. The tightened quality control ensures far fewer devices arrive with nicks and scuffs out of the box, as those pesky anodised aluminium casings are all too easy to mark, whether it's jingling against your keys in your pocket, or being assembled by a Foxconn worker back at the factory.

The high standards and use of scratch-prone anodised aluminium has put a strain on workers that's reported to have contributed to unrest. This weekend Foxconn was forced to deny that some workers had gone on strike in protest.

When scuffs and scratches were first noticed, Apple boss Phil Schiller sent a customer a terse email insisting, "Any aluminium product may scratch or chip with use, exposing its natural silver colour. That is normal."

As if the scratches weren't bad enough, Apple is also under fire over reports of a purple haze in photos taken with the new phone's camera . On the software front, Apple has also been hit with a storm of controversy over Apple Maps , the new mapping app that replaces Google Maps in iOS 6.

Was your iPhone scratched when you got it? Have you seen scuffs already, or is it still pristine? And should we relax about scratches, or obsessively worry about keeping our gadgets pristine? Etch your thoughts in the comments, or on our highly polished Facebook page.

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Phones
About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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