Why does Apple choose to use such poor anodization for iPhone 5?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by timidhermit, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. macrumors regular

    Having recently read the article on AnandTech on the iPhone 5 anodization process:


    It bugs me why Apple does not choose to use better anodization. In particular, the anodization depth Apple uses is TOO THIN/SHALLOW, leading to poor paint retention and easily chipping of the paint.

    The chamfered edge is also a terrible choice. Since anodization is even less by nature, the paint can only be adhered onto the surface.

    Poor understanding of material science in the design.
  2. VandyChem2009, Dec 5, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2012

    macrumors 6502a


    It's not paint.

    Poor understanding of anodization process.
  3. macrumors 6502

    Complains about anodization process Apple uses

    Does not understand basics of anodization
  4. macrumors regular

    It is you who don't understand the process.

    The paint or dye dwells in the porous surface created by the anodization. By deepening the anodized layer, more dye can be layered onto the aluminum before it is sealed by bathing it in hot water. Shallow anodization is prone to have uneven dye appearance and/or have the dye "scratched off" when the shallow layer of anodization is removed (such as by physical contact).

    Read the article first before complaining.

  5. macrumors G3

    The article missed that scuffgate is caused by defective anodized coatings. Launch day iP5 with normal anodized coating are still flawless to this day (unless you're particularly careless or rough with it or have dropped it).
  6. macrumors 6502a


    Actually it is paint. Aluminium oxide by itself has a very light colour. Not sure what understanding of anodization process has got to do with anything.

    Anyway, people whose quality of life will be terribly diminished if not shattered by owning stuff that exhibits the worn look, should not buy the iphone 5 in black. I myself couldn't care less about paint wearing off of things I use daily. It sure won't stop me from getting the black version.
  7. macrumors 6502a


    Yeah, don't believe everything you read on the internet. It's not paint.
  8. scaredpoet, Dec 5, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2012

    macrumors 603


    "Paint is any liquid, liquefiable, or mastic composition which, after application to a substrate in a thin layer, is converted to a solid film."


    Anodization, including the dyes and coloring process that occurs with anodization is not paint. They are very different things.

    Also, I too have a still-flawless iPhone 5 from launch week. Granted it was an exchange from a launch-day iPhone 5 with scuffs, but it goes to show you that that the anodization process used by Apple is fine, provided it's done correctly.

    I've used quite a few products with excellent black metal anodization. My watch is black anodized. I use several flashlights at work that are black anodized machined aluminum. All go through lots of abuse and the anodization has held up well, and the anodization is actually pretty similar to the iPhone 5.
  9. macrumors 6502a


    In the coating world it is referred to as dye.

    There are two things causing this issue with the 5.

    1) 6061 non-tempered aluminum is used. It's cheaper and more easily milled than tempered 6061 aluminum, which has many more times the hardness. Having a soft aluminum, even if they had used a better quality anodizing process, would still lead to the coating being compromised with scrapes, dents, etc. That aluminum is just too soft for use as a phone. It's similar to painting a piece of pine wood vs. a piece of steel-exagerated for point. The harder the base material, the tougher the finish, so to speak.

    2) The anodizing process used is was very low grade. Shallow, no doubt do to costs and time constraints.
  10. SnowLeopard OSX, Dec 5, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2012

    macrumors 6502a

    SnowLeopard OSX

    I personally prefer the glass used in the iPhone 4/iPhone 4S. They should have left it as is. I'm also a huge fan of the stainless steel band used in said phones as well.
  11. Jalopybox, Dec 5, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2012

    macrumors 6502a


    My point exactly. The PX2, which is one hell of a flashlight, is made out of 6061-T6 aluminum. It's tempered and has a Brinell hardness of 95-97, while the non-tempered aluminum, used on the iphone, has a Brinell hardnes of 30-33. The flashlight has 3X the hardness of the iPhone and in turn, will show much less nicks, dents, scrapes.
  12. macrumors regular


    Finally good to have someone who is actually knowledgeable about this to chime in.

  13. macrumors 6502a

    Welp, this perfectly explains the issues that people are seeing in real life in inordinate numbers, myself included:
    1. The iphone seems to bend way too easily, which correlates with soft aluminum
    2. It chips and scratches, even around my headphone jack just by plugging in some headphones, there's s a ring around the jack.

    Last time I ever pay this much for an Apple phone. If you're going to charge so much, present your product as a premium one, and I pay that price, it's on them to deliver.

    They have not. It is in no way shape or form a superiorly engineered product than their competitors. it's not tougher, the quality control is not higher, but the price is certainly alot more.
  14. macrumors 68020


    a lot more? isnt the sIII an note 2 the same price?
  15. macrumors 65816



    Well what do you want? Plastic which is subject to impact damage, scratching and all kinds of issues related to that.

    So far my iPhone is perfect, no problems.

    And for those with bent iphones? Stop wearing ultra tight pants that show off every nook and cranny on your body. Nobody wants to see that.
  16. macrumors 601


    If we step back, setting aside the specifics of the process, the bottom line is the iPhone 5 is poorly finished & not very durable.

    It can be argued that some people got "good ones that aren't scuffed or scratched" but this isn't gambling. It shouldn't be a crap shoot.

    It _Is_ a real problem or it wouldn't be talked about. People don't just imagine problems. Apple is choosing to go cheap on the finish in order to make more money for themselves. They didn't "accidentally" choose this finish.

    Perhaps they will do the right thing & give the next iPhone a proper finish.

    In the meantime all the Apple excuse makers will defend it. Just like they denied Antennagate till the iPhone 4S was released. The improved antenna on iPhone 4S was something that Apple bragged about immediately.

    Once you've been around Apple for awhile you become accustomed to their deception.
  17. macrumors regular


    How much more expensive is tempered aluminum compared to non-tempered? I can't imagine that was the reason why Apple chose not to use tempered material, since the profit margin is so high anyway.

    Could it be weight related instead?

    According to what I read on the anodization process, increasing the depth of anodization even by 100-500% does not increase the time of production that much longer (minutes only).

    Leads to think that there must be some other constraints that we are not aware leading to the decision to use low grade soft aluminum and low grade anodization.
  18. macrumors 6502a


    Apple could have gone with the T6 tempered aluminum and it would still retain it's lightness and be a bit more durable-albeit not as durable as the stainles steel.

    Apple needed some big "% Better" number with the 5. They went with 'Lighter". I personally think that was a mistake. I am fine with the 4S's weight. I am hard on my toys/devices and would always choose durability over reduced weight given no other option.
  19. macrumors regular

    I concur. In hindsight, I felt as if the 4S glass design is more forgiving and more sturdy that the 5. The trade off in weight is a poor design decision. I have read threads posted on this forum from users who are on their 10+ replacements because of this.

  20. macrumors 603


    Actually, if we set aside the specifics of the process, all we have is conjecture and anecdotes, which is hardly factual and even less credible. Conclusions like this are then based purely on opinion and rhetoric.

    Actually, there is a long, well-documented history of outlier users who either have remarkably bad luck, or are otherwise remarkably astute at finding only defective Apple products, and then repeatedly exchanging and exchanging a product that apparently doesn't meet their expectations or needs, without considering the possibility that maybe a different product from another manufacturer would suit their needs better.

    There is a saying for this: the definition of insanity is doing the exact same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.

    Are these people really getting 5, 10, 15 or more defective iPhones in a row? I don't know because I'm not witnessing it. But the fact that after exchange number 4, 9, 14 or greater, the person still hasn't' seen fit to either wait for another production batch or go with a different product entirely is quite telling.

    If that were true, Apple could've easily gone with molded plastic, which is markedly cheaper.

    When one has been drinking a particular flavor of Kool-Aid for a long time, and suddenly finds themselves committing to a different flavor, they will often try really hard to convince themselves that the old flavor was sour, anyway.
  21. macrumors 6502a


    The T6 is roughly 20% more than the non-tempered 6061.
  22. macrumors 68020


    but it was sour. I had sour apple flavor
  23. macrumors 68040


    OP is the absolute know all for anodization process... everyone bow down. :rolleyes:
  24. macrumors regular

    I can't take credit. It is Jalopybox who actually answered the question I posed. :D

  25. macrumors regular

    Not to defend the Big "A" at all, but the article suggests that light anodizing was spec'd in due to physical constraints more than anything else. In its drive toward minimalism and light weight, Apple chose aluminum which can only be so thin before it limits how deeply you can anodize without affecting structural integrity. Hard anodizing is like an order of magnitude thicker than decorative anodizing; maybe they just ran out of thickness?

    Also, are we sure that they didn't use hard anodizing? The slate-colored back of the black iP5 is very close to the natural color of Type III anodizing without dye. Even Type III is not immune to some scuffing.

Share This Page