Apple’s next-gen iPhone likely to challenge manufacturing capabilities

“Apple has reportedly lined up components to manufacture its next-generation iPhone as it preps a Q3 launch, but the device appears to be tricky to make,” Larry Dignan reports for ZDNet. “That fact is likely to give a big headache to Hon Hai Precision, which manufactures the iPhone via its Foxconn unit.”

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Dignan reports, “The Wall Street Journal reports that the latest iPhone will be thinner and lighter than the iPhone 4… The next-gen iPhone is reportedly “complicated and difficult to assemble.” Last month, Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou acknowledged that the iPhone was difficult to make.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

21 Comments

  1. Yes, but Gou’s comments have to be taken in context. He was talking about why Foxconn’s earnings were weaker than expected, and he explained it away as the “yield rate” was lower than expected, but that he expected it would go up, and earnings would improve.

    What’s interesting is that we generally hear about “yield rates” for chip production, not assembly. Of course, Foxconn does mfr some components for Apple, like the Unibody parts, where yield rates might apply. Still, when I read him make that comment, I supposed he was just making up an excuse for weak results. They had obvious teething problems in getting their new Chengdu plant up and running, as evidenced by their aluminum dust explosion.

    1. Generally speaking yield rates can be used to measure components that are assembled and are prone to failure under existing manufacturing methods. So they might have to redesign the assembly line to admit and test more complex parts. These tests extend to a range of mechanical tests for repeated pressings of the home button and heat and cold tests for tolerance to temperature fluctuations. Also there might be tests for how well the battery holds up to repeated charging as I suppose the A6 chip and (supposedly) bigger screen would have higher power draws.

      Even I think they test for admission of dust into the unit behind the screen so the sealant has to withstand deterioration over time. In short there are a whole bunch of tests that will give a fail notice if the assembly process is complex, at least in the initial stages until the weaknesses are ironed out.

      1. I suppose that’s all possible, the pushing of the home button the battery, etc., but I would have assumed the component suppliers would be responsible for those, and not Foxconn. If someone makes the home button, they test those, before shipping them to Foxconn, just like Intel tests their chips before grading them by speed, and then shipping them to OEMs.

        As for dust, that’s an issue of QC. I just thought the usage of the term “yield rate” seemed a little odd, when perhaps, like you point out, it may be more an issue of QC.

        1. I don’t know. Apple is pushing into new territory on the manufacturing side with each product. It may very well be that there is a “yield rate” on assembly now for Apple products. That there are now un-undoable steps in assembly, and that certain percentage have to be rejected.

      2. BLN, off the subject, you’ve been on the blog awhile so I thought I’d pose this question to you. Do you know what ever happened to ChrissyOne or ZuneTang? I miss their sarcasm.

        1. ChrissyOne’s found a new job with Amazon in Seattle and is probably busy settling down taking orders from her new overlords. Jeff Bezos is looking over her shoulder haranguing her to death probably.

          ZuneTang has disappeared off the horizon. He’s never very communicative when he’s here except to ‘put down’ the ‘MAC’ users here so I don’t know where he’s gone. Might have assumed a new nick for all I know. Could be waiting for the new Windows tablet to hit before slagging us off here.

  2. Baloney.

    Another cockamamie story by WS. The same thing was said about the ipad2 and how it was going to be delayed until June (a week later news of iphone 5 release in March came out).

    I hope news of apple making reservations at the Yerba Buena or Moscone Center come out next week.

  3. Of course he will publicly say it’s difficult to make the components.

    In general Chinese manufacturers lowball and try to make money either by cutting corners or making things easier/cheaper to make.

    With Apple products, as they are constrained, the only thing they can get is volume. I’m sure Foxconn is aware of the Brazilian possibility of losing business and kept prices lower to keep Apple.

  4. Given Apple’s tendency to dabble with new tech and new manufacturing ideas, (laser cutting, bezel antenna, smaller ports) I would expect them to be first to attempt to use “printed circuits”, whereby the plastic case itself is no longer just a protective cover but made of active integrated circuitry, printed in layers. The idea has been out there for nearly a decade (it’s about time) waiting for someone to use it in a real product. I’m not saying it’s coming with the iPhone5, just that Apple will be first.

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