Report: Production Defect ‘May Influence Initial iPhone 5 Shipments’

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Finding an iPhone 5 might be a bit trickier after launch, thanks to a rumored manufacturing defect that could reduce initial shipments.

Anonymous sources told DigiTimes that touch panel manufacturer Wintek discovered a “delayed bubble” defect during production. The defect occurs when gas gets trapped between thin film coatings in the touch panel, and can be tough to avoid if it’s not detected during the lamination process.

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Wintek said all of its products are being delivered on schedule, which means this manufacturing glitch probably won’t cause a delay for the iPhone 5. But reduced shipments could cause some temporary supply shortages, with Wintek providing 20 percent to 25 percent of touch panels for Apple’s upcoming smartphone, DigiTimes reported.

This shouldn’t be a long-term problem because Wintek reportedly uses the same manufacturing process for iPhone 5 touch panels as it did for the iPhone 4, so it can quickly remedy the defect. Still, in the past Apple has sold new iPhones as quickly as it can produce them, so any manufacturing issue could cause demand to exceed supply.

The latest rumors say Apple will announce the iPhone 5 on October 4, and will release the device a few weeks later. But the company’s managed to keep tech pundits guessing as to what the iPhone 5 will look like (although there are plenty of rumors to that effect). Still, Apple expects to ship 25 million to 26 million units in the fourth quarter.

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