Get an Inside Look at Apple's Early Field Failure Analysis Program Ahead of the iPhone 6 Launch

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Sep 4, 2014.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Ahead of the iPhone 6's launch, Adam Satariano of BloombergBusinessweek has shared some details on Apple's early field failure analysis (EFFA) program, designed to solve potential iPhone issues quickly and efficiently. The EFFA Program, which is run by Apple's AppleCare team, has been in place since the late 1990s.

    As outlined by Satariano, shortly after any iPhone release, the EFFA program sees couriers shuttling defective units received from returns to a testing room in Cupertino, where they are inspected by iPhone engineers in an attempt to fix problems in a timely manner. As soon as a fix is in place, it's deployed across the company's global supply chain.

    With the EFFA program, engineers in Cupertino learn of a potential problem as soon as a return is made in a retail store, and the serial numbers of each device allow the company to track defective devices down to "individual workers on an assembly line."

    An example of EFFA in action came in 2007, with the release of the original iPhone. Several devices returned with a faulty touchscreen caused by an earpiece flaw that let in a user's sweat. Apple engineers fixed the problem with a new coating, which rolled out to assembly lines shortly after and prevented a more widespread issue.

    According to former employees, EFFA testing is most crucial during the weeks after a device first launches, but the team remains active for many months, and publishes a weekly report highlighting common issues reported by customers. Apple's EFFA team will be called to action in just a few short weeks, as Apple is expected to introduce the iPhone 6 at a media event on September 9, with a launch coming shortly after.

    For additional details on EFFA, make sure to check out Satarino's full piece over at BloombergBusinessweek.

    Article Link: Get an Inside Look at Apple's Early Field Failure Analysis Program Ahead of the iPhone 6 Launch
  2. mnsportsgeek macrumors 65816

    Feb 24, 2009
    Get an Inside Look at Apple's Early Field Failure Analysis Program Ahead of t...

    In short. Apple has a good quality department.
  3. SandboxGeneral Moderator


    Staff Member

    Sep 8, 2010
    Orbiting a G-type Main Sequence Star
    That's pretty interesting. Seems like a quick and efficient way to deal with problems and fix them before they release a new version with the same problems.
  4. GeneralChang macrumors 65816

    Dec 2, 2013
    I work for an engineering company that is slowly working toward this kind of culture in the QA department. It's slow going but, as Apple's customer satisfaction scores indicate, well worth it.
  5. gixxerfool macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2008
    Any good manufacturer will do this. Car manufacturers do this all the time since lab testing does not equal real world conditions. Otherwise they are just churning out crap with no quality control.
  6. sammich macrumors 601


    Sep 26, 2006
  7. kdarling, Sep 4, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2014

    kdarling macrumors demi-god


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 46 years ago
    EFFA comes after release.

    Of course, in an ideal world, you find most problems BEFORE a product goes on sale. That's why carriers like extended phone testing.

    And it's why Apple's penchant for secrecy can backfire, such as with that antenna flaw that was hidden by a required camouflage case.

    Yep. I've been part of a team that tracked returns / repairs after a new device deployment.
  8. markyr17 macrumors 65816


    Apr 8, 2010
    They must have been shi*ting all sort of bricks during antenna gate
  9. iCore24 macrumors 6502


    Jan 6, 2013
    So being the early adopters is risky after all...
  10. kockgunner macrumors 68000


    Sep 24, 2007
    Vancouver, Canada
    Yet they still don't acknowledge heavily interlaced and flickering LCD screens since the iPhone 5.
  11. macduke macrumors 604


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    Surely this isn't always the case. I went through several iPhone 5 units with faulty sleep/wake buttons. Either that or the solution really was that difficult.
  12. Nunyabinez macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2010
    Provo, UT
    I tend to be an early adopter and should have realized that this is exactly how they work, but thinking about this now makes me want to wait a while before I get this phone.

    I have been on the "Toc" cycle for a while and thought I might get the 6 rather than wait for the 6S, but it's been working out for me so maybe I'll wait until 2 months after the 6S comes out to upgrade.
  13. groovyd macrumors 65816


    Jun 24, 2013
    guaranteed the second batch of units has a slew of part value changes and tweaked internals...
  14. joeblow7777 macrumors 601

    Sep 7, 2010
    Well, it stands to reason that if there are going to be defects they're more likely to occur in the earliest batch of products, but it sounds like Apple works hard to identify and correct problems as quickly as possible.

    It's important to realize that there are always going to be defective units of any mass produced device, but in all but the worst debacles they represent a small minority of the units shipped.
  15. rei101 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 24, 2011
    I would say the third generation at least!
  16. SoloStyle macrumors regular

    Oct 17, 2011
    Man, I was so excited about the iPhone 6 prior to reading this. Now I feel like I should wait several months after release before buying one. :/
  17. goobot macrumors 603


    Jun 26, 2009
    long island NY
    Not really considering if there is something wrong you can just swap it out.
  18. nagromme, Sep 4, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2014

    nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    There was no such flaw, and cases were never required. That antenna design is STILL sold today (the 8GB, over 4 years later) and works fine. The phone got better reception than its predecessor, which had already been praised for its reception, and better than many competing phones (some of which also had externally exposed antennas--not an Apple first). Yes, as with any phone, the way you hold it can affect you when you're in a weak signal location.

    There was a PR "flaw," of course! Lots of people without iPhones moaning on behalf of the supposed masses of iPhone users with problems. VERY few actual owners posting complaints for themselves. Which is astonishing, considering the media hullaballoo made people LOOK for a problem they could have seen on any phone in history.

    Antenna gate was mostly myth. It died accordingly, and Apple giving out the cases (which would help ANY phone ever made, and which most people already use anyway) was simply part of their PR response.

    I was glad to get my free case :) And I used it only when hiking, because it simply was not needed for reception.

    Agreed. Normally I'd be worried, about first-release products from ANY company. (I never install x.0 of any OS.) But with iOS, backup-and-restore is SO painless and complete, the next day after a warranty swap it's like nothing ever happened. You're risking hassle, but (IF a Genius is near you), the risk is minor.

    Scratch that! Apple has terrible products, terrible service and never fixes anything! Wait at least a month before you buy! That way you won't be ahead of me in the order queue :)
  19. iolinux333 macrumors 68000

    Feb 9, 2014
  20. dampfnudel macrumors 68020

    Aug 14, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    Well, it's always safer to wait a couple of months just in case, or if you really want to play it safe, wait for the 's' model. At the very least, don't pick up a first production run iPhone 6. I know it's hard to wait an additional couple of months, but waiting might mean the difference between a good experience and a bad one with a redesigned model.


    With the possibility that the new iPhone 6 you get has the same issue, which is something some people experienced with the iPhone 5.
  21. FrankieTDouglas macrumors 65816

    Mar 10, 2005
    The kool-aid is strong in this one.
  22. Iconoclysm macrumors 68000


    May 13, 2010
    Washington, DC
    Nobody has the challenge on turnaround time that Apple does, the fact they can do this while pumping out 10s of millions of products and make changes to the entire process within weeks of launch is simply astounding.

    And I'm not trying to give Apple credit for this, specifically, but they are the only company producing this many of any electronics product out there.
  23. myforwik macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2014
    A lot of other companies mass produce then mass ship. Apple seem to make them as they sell them, so they can correct issues.

    The defects bing talked about here arnt the ones that effect all phones, they are the ones that cause the 1 in 50 people to get a dodgy part and have to come back, if apple can fix it do no other phones suffer the same problem they can avoid thousands out of millions experiencing a similair problem.
  24. Alisstar macrumors 6502


    Jul 12, 2008
    Orlando, FL
    Reading this makes me want to wait a few months and not be an early adopter. But I'll continue being an early adopter for several reasons: a) I get AppleCare on my phones, so if my unit is faulty, I can always get a replacement; b) even if I didn't have AppleCare, the phone does have a 1-year hardware warranty; c) there's value in helping the hardware ecosystem by being an early adopter, I'll consider myself a hardware beta tester.
  25. kdarling macrumors demi-god


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 46 years ago
    The antenna design was changed starting with the Verizon iPhone 4.

    Sure, it got better reception if you were not holding it. No doubt Apple did their internal testing with the iPhone in a dummy hand, and of course we know the external testing was done in a case that hid the problem. In those situations, it was fine.

    In real life, as Anandtech found out, just putting it in your hand caused a 20dB drop in signal.

    The previous model, the 3GS, only dropped 2dB in the same situation.

    That means the iPhone 4 had 100 (one hundred) times the signal drop of the 3GS.

    We're not talking about death grips. We're talking about an itty bitty spot where a slight bridging touch would massively detune the antenna.

    Name one other phone on the planet that can drop a call by placing your little pinky on a single slim line placed right where many people hold the phone.

    As Anandtech put it:


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