Report: iPod, iPhone failures due to common part issues | iLounge News

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Report: iPod, iPhone failures due to common part issues

Published today, a report by EETimes traces numerous iPod and iPhone hardware problems to a lack of “attention to the basics” of product design, including “component placement, sealing, USB protection and connector quality, along with batteries and LCDs.” The report spotlights the findings of Rapid Repair, a company specializing in media device repairs, as it has worked through problems with both iPod and iPhone models over the past five years. Amongst the highlights:

* The use of polymer batteries rather than lithium ion and lithium polymer batteries would lead to fewer leakages, while laminated glass is a superior option to both crackable glass and scratchable plastic for covering displays. Fifty percent of the failures Rapid Repair encounters are LCD- or battery-related, with after-market batteries causing more problems than the ones installed initially in the devices.

* Connectors, including headphone jacks and internal sockets for screens and other parts, fail or disconnect over time; internal disconnections can lead to expensive repairs just to reconnect cables. Apple’s contract manufacturers, including Foxconn, may be responsible for choosing the less impressive parts that cause problems.

* According to the company, “many USB power modules fail” in iPods, and units also stop working due to “poorly designed after-market car chargers, liquid intrusion, and hard-drive failures” caused by dropping.

The report recommends the use of superior connectors, recessed displays, and better protection for both the display and storage media, noting that hard drives will continue to remain viable for five years due to improvements in capacity and physical size.

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Comments

1

Man, Apple really sucks!

Content now Flippy?

Posted by Jordan on September 5, 2008 at 6:19 PM (CDT)

2

Of all the iPods/iPhones owned by myself and my family, not to mention the scores of them I support at work, I have never seen these types of failures unless someone carelessly rips out cables and/or drops them.
Funny how now they come up with this report after millions of happy users have been enjoying them?
Like the bombshell dropped before the election - seems shady to me at best.

Posted by slb on September 5, 2008 at 6:26 PM (CDT)

3

@slb

Agreed. The timing is very curious, since we expect the iPod line to be refreshed next week. I have an iPhone, and I’ve owned many different iPods, and none have ever given me what I would consider to be significant hardware problems. I even had my 5G video iPod for 2.5 years, and it was still in good condition when I sold it on ebay a few months ago.

Posted by jasonact on September 5, 2008 at 6:54 PM (CDT)

4

I have had plenty of problems with iPods and now my 3G iPhone.  The 3G is poorly executed, though its pretty and fun. But, boy was I mislead on its capabilities.  I still use it as my primary phone, but when it comes to e-mail & messaging, it just doesn’t cut it.

But the reason I’m writing is to respond to the suggestion that there’s some motive behind the timing of the release of this report.  Fact is I work for a components supplier and I know that its the Foxconns of the world that are to blame.  When they get a BOM from an OEM like Apple, the first chance they get is cut corners and costs.  If Apple allows (which I know they do), they’ll let Foxconn and their suppliers switch out components to allow Foxconn to get higher margins.  Apple does demand a certain (minimum) technical standard, and they want their margin dollar as well.  Typically, we’ll convince them of a higher technical standard (well our products).  That will go on a BOM or reference design.  After that, its what Apple allows Foxconn to do is where it all falls apart.

You really can’t blame Apple, but then again, you should convince them to stay on their suppliers.  And if you want high quality, they should follow the spirit of the report, if not the actual recommendations if they strongly believe otherwise.  My experience with the designers is that they’re generally good engineers with quality and safety in mind.

By the way, some of the things stated in the summary above, like with the batteries is just wrong.

Posted by NAL on September 5, 2008 at 9:48 PM (CDT)

5

This report is USELESS unless the report also fairly brings into account the billions and billions and gazillions of unreported EPIC FAILURES of cheapo dirty-cheap low-margin non-Apple products (i.e. competing MP3 players, smartphones, etc). 

Singling out Apple is a cheap shot, since it’s quite obvious that Apple is one of the largest sellers of such media devices these days. The more Apple sells, the higher the chance that “a few bad apples” will be defective. 

This report is just poor logic.  This is like saying “Apple sold 5 million iPods last year.  And Company Cheapo, a low-end zero-quality MP3 manufacturer company who no one cares about, sold only 5,000 MP3 players in the same year.  In that same year, Apple had a report of 4,000 defects.  In that same year, Company Cheapo had a report of 3,000 defects (out of 5,000 units shipped).  Therefore this (nonsense) report concludes that Apple quality SUCKS because it had a higher total number of defectives.”

Posted by Lousy Journalism on September 6, 2008 at 1:22 PM (CDT)

6

The report does not attempt to say how many of Apple’s products have problems. It talks about the types of failures that are seen in Apple’s products. If the distinction between those two subjects isn’t totally obvious to you, you might want to go back and reread the article.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on September 6, 2008 at 3:02 PM (CDT)

7

Exactly, another typical knee-jerk reaction to any negativity surrounding Apple. no company is perfect, although many want to believe apple is.

Posted by jeff on September 6, 2008 at 5:36 PM (CDT)

8

Even when I had a few device issues lately and apple replaced it twice. I still say that apple is the best for me. I agree with “lousy” and “jeff”.

It is amusing when you step back and look at the complete portable mp3 area. You see who steps out of the pack ;-) .. A P P L E

Interesting that “microsoft” did not seen this area as porfitable area. I guess they having enough problems with their new OS ;-)

Well, .. that’s for now. My beloved apple friends

Posted by dennis on September 6, 2008 at 10:42 PM (CDT)

9

I have friends at work that own Porsches, Bentleys, Astins, etc. and do you know how many of them have issues?
All of them.
Most expensive cars in the world.
Guess what folks - things made and designed by mere mortals have imperfections.
I have two LARGE bins at the office filled with busted/useless Blackberries.
Many (most) of which cost more than the iPhones.
NObody bitches about that - why?
Apple is fun to bash.
Always has been, apparently always will be.

Posted by slb on September 7, 2008 at 4:54 PM (CDT)

10

I work in semicon. It’s industry standard for subcon-endcustomer to have a cpcn (change-process-change-material notice) clause; even if unwritten it’s standard in the industry. Foxconn cannot just change to a cheaper supplier on their own. Besides the appropriate waiting period for the notice, subcon company is obliged to submit samples and stand by same fit, form, and functionality with the new proposed material, then Apple should exercise it’s right to a process re-audit or full-blown reliability tests at Foxconn’s cost (these tests are destructive and costly). So what Im saying is it’s always the responsibility of the company that puts its name on the product.

On the other topic, it’s correct that that article does not mention actual parts-per-million or % defect over products sold. EE Times should have been responsible enough to highlight that in the article. Although this site is one of our main sources for daily news. Im sure Foxconn managers check this site out daily.

Posted by turmukoy on September 7, 2008 at 9:06 PM (CDT)

11

This report seems to have offended some Apple fanboys.  Some think the report is a conspiracy. ;-)

I like and use Apple stuff and have done so for many years (laptops, desktops, Newtons, ipods and iphone) but their quality control is poor considering they demand a premium price.

Apple stuff is cool, and well-designed, but in terms of build-quality it is only mediocre, and customer service is only fair too.

For example where I work, we use Apple MacBooks and Fujitsu PC’s. We have had 3 major MacBook failures in the last few years and the Fujitsu’s are all still purring along (they cost less too!)

Posted by roofus on September 8, 2008 at 9:43 AM (CDT)

12

Roofus- I won’t try to speak for anyone else but It’s not so much them being offended but likely a perception of irresponsible journalism. I can understand your point of view though but I constantly find myself wishing these discussions weren’t so polarized.

Posted by Jordan on September 8, 2008 at 10:20 AM (CDT)

13

Once again, Jordan, I have no idea why you can’t just accept the fact that people have legitimate complaints about Apple, and why you can’t seem to rationally offer your counterpoints without sniping.

First of all, the snotty comment to start the thread was unnecessary, but typical of you over the course of the past few weeks and the discussions here. “Apple sucks!” exhibits no more maturity than your previous barbs amounting to “People who complain about Apple suck!”

Second, even those rare moments when you seem to offer a hint of pragmatic, productive debate are halfhearted. You say something about “irresponsible journalism” in your communique with roofus, but what’s irresponsible about it? Is it merely irresponsible because it points out flaws in an Apple product?

Finally, you claim to “wish these discussions weren’t so polarized,” and yet you aren’t helping matters with your constant biting remarks. I believe I said long ago that I was far from being an Apple hater, and that I love many of their products. But when I dared lift a finger to type a cross word about the company’s practices with regard to the App Store and the iPhone 3G, you acted as if I had punched your mother right in the face, right in front of you.

Posted by Flippy Hambone on September 8, 2008 at 11:24 AM (CDT)

14

My mentioning of “irresponsible journalism” is in reference specifically to the 5th post here. You know, the one submitted by LOUSY JOURNALISM. I don’t think what I said was much of a stretch, especially when I was merely trying to explain what I was inferring from the comments till now. If you could check your bias, as it relates specifically to me, at the door you might have caught this.

You know Flip, I had hoped to restrain myself from degrading the thread like and singling out a reply but you obviously feel obligated to ALWAYS comment on my points. I CANNOT understand why YOU take issue with EVERYTHING I say. I never took anything personally and I seem to recall you coming after me from the start. It was quite the opposite actually in that I couldn’t, and still cannot, understand why many take Apple’s choices personally. You know, like Apple punch their mom… in her face… right in front of them.

Posted by Jordan on September 8, 2008 at 12:05 PM (CDT)

15

A few thoughts.
One,I’ve had or used many ipods,iphone over the years and I’ve had two problems total. A Hp iPod 4th gen didn’t work right out of the box and my edge iphone started having data issues after I upgraded to 2.0. That’s it. So out of 15 or so ipods I’ve had or used 2 had issues.
Two,something that will be used every day,banged around in pockets and backpacks is gonna get beat up and may have issues. No different than a car. Wear and tear,etc…it will happen. ipods aren’t like a tv that sit untouched on a stand for 15 years straight. Using the ipod at a bus stop on a rainy day or having your 4 year old brother run around the house with it and chuck it onto the floor….sh-t happens.

The only thing I can really bag on Apple for is the fact that after all these years they can’t or won’t use scratch resistent screens.
I’ve had $50 Creatives w/ no screen guard at all look flawless after weeks of use but an ipod screen not covered right out of box will look like hell in days. There is no reason for this flaw.
It’s sad when your ipod screen looks like crap but the iriver or sony on display at walmart,which has had 100’s of paws all over it looks pristine (save for the smudges).

I bought a used 1st gen ipod from somebody 2 years ago and other than the fact that the battery only lasts for like 2 hours and the screen looks like it was touched by Freddy Kruguer it still works.

Posted by ipoderriffic on September 8, 2008 at 1:48 PM (CDT)

16

Jordan, your latest post is contradictory to the point of being almost comical.

First of all, you chide me for commenting on your “points,” porous as they may be. I believe your first comment here, the one deliberately posted to bait me into responding, is an invitation for me to respond. So I did. Don’t solicit commentary and then act appalled when it is given.

Secondly, your recollection of matters—to wit, “I never took anything personally and I seem to recall you coming after me from the start”—is faulty. Please refer to a news story from a couple of weeks ago in which I commented about Apple’s shoddy policies with regard to pulling apps from the App Store, and your trenchant, smug response about wishing that people could be “removed from the planet” as easily as apps are removed. You confirmed after the fact that this snotty little quip was directed at me, so it is inaccurate to state that I have “com[e] after [you] from the start.”

Third: the notion that “many take Apple’s choices personally” is, yet again, a fallacy. When one complains about Apple’s policies and procedures, he or she is not taking anything personally, but simply expressing an opinion. And many times on this site, when one broadcasts such an opinion, you have been right there with your bullhorn to shout them down, saying nothing about the validity of that opinion or your own. It’s called arguing in bad faith, and making ad hominem attacks.

Fourth: charging me with “bias” is the most ridiculous point in your post. I take everything posted at face value, nothing more and nothing less. The fact that you consistently poor-mouth those who would object to Apple’s practices is direct evidence that you are an Apple supporter. And believe it or not, there’s nothing wrong with that. But for you to then be disinclined to debate the merits of Apple’s recent decisions suggests naked bias, and to use the parlance of our times, rampant “fanboyism.” I don’t use that phrase because I think it is almost always misapplied—in fact, I’ve been accused of being an Apple apologist here simply for liking a product or an innovation.

I would encourage you to “check your bias” when commenting here, because it instead appears that you have a predilection to attacking anyone who doesn’t lovingly embrace every move Apple makes.

I had hoped you would restrain yourself, too. That ship has clearly sailed. I’m sorry that you believe every remotely negative comment toward Apple merits your unfounded reproach, but that’s your cross to bear.

Posted by Flippy Hambone on September 8, 2008 at 2:31 PM (CDT)

17

Please provide me SPECIFICS as to when I:

- Took anyone’s (besides yours, here) comment personally.
- “Shout[ed] them down”.

I look forward to your answer as I am coming up short as to when I have done either of those. I’m sure you will choose to focus on my language towards you though, which I understand. Unless you keep your high-brow judgement to the cyber world I’m sure it isn’t the first time you’re hearing it.

Posted by Jordan on September 8, 2008 at 3:31 PM (CDT)

18

Sad response. And par for the course, unfortunately.

Your replies to those who criticize Apple have included words and phrases such as “outrage,” “playing the victim,” “taking it personally,” “little old ladies,” and “sense of entitlement,” among others. I’ve obviously borne the brunt of your harshness, because I had the audacity to disagree with you, but you’ve clearly been miffed at others because they haven’t routinely embraced Apple.

The fact that you can’t offer substantive reply, or exercise the restraint you had allegedly hoped to exercise, tells me all I need to know. My only reason for posting here is to engage others in rational discussion, not to attack. I think Post #1 in this thread proves that you are inclined to troll, and Post #17 is evidence of your tendency to attack.

Posted by Flippy Hambone on September 8, 2008 at 4:53 PM (CDT)

19

Can’t even provide an answer to a rather simple and specific question, huh Flip? Again, where is my criticism of others? Where is there an example of an attack against someone (besides yourself), you arrogant ___? None of your quotes there (which are quite conveniently taken out of context, surprise surprise) have any merit towards your argument when you post three words of an entire paragraph I may have written. I honestly do not recall even mentioning “little old ladies”. I did tell you to do something that has expectedly been removed by iLounge, but I will let imaginations figure that one out themselves.

I have not been miffed at others, although where is the foul in that, but merely confused as to why Apple’s choice in something clearly angered them severely in some cases. I have continually repeated my desire for a better understanding of this and you continually, and once again conveniently, overlook this. Instead choosing to beat a dead horse about comment #1 here and about wishing some people could be removed just as easily as Apple can remove an app.

Posted by Jordan on September 8, 2008 at 6:59 PM (CDT)

20

Jordan, I believe your inability to do anything but call names (or leave blanks where names would go) speaks volumes. Every quote I provided in direct response to your query was taken directly from your prior posts, which can be found in the “Recent Comments” in the news link on the home page. Those words and phrases are NOT taken out of context but are your words, and in any context are designed to be goading, so you should accordingly have to own them.

I think it’s disingenuous for you to claim that you are merely “confused” now when your prior posts indicated that you were agitated. I have not overlooked anything, as several times I have tried to engage you in substantive discussion to no avail. I believe my record of posts speaks for itself in this regard as well (see again the “Recent Comments”), as none of them were confrontational until you chose, for whatever reason, to conjure up acrimony out of nothing. I asked questions, in good faith, and you didn’t—or perhaps you couldn’t—muster any kind of response, other than to be acerbic and vicious.

Yet again, my sole reason for posting here is to engage in rational, reasonable, even-tempered discussion, and I have not diverted from that. I’ve had disagreements with some of your characterizations of things, but not engaged in any character attacks.

Posted by Flippy Hambone on September 8, 2008 at 7:53 PM (CDT)

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