Questionable build quality of iPhone 5?

Questionable build quality of iPhone 5?

September 21, 2012

As you can probably imagine I was rather excited at the prospect of receiving my brand new iPhone 5 this morning.  I managed to pre-order one online on the morning of Friday 14th September and went for an unlocked 16GB black/slate model for £529.

It was delivered by courier this morning (Friday 21st September) just before 12pm and just as the reviews and previews I had read indicated, it was indeed a great looking phone.  It somehow manages to look infinitely sleeker than its portly cousin the iPhone 4S.  Although it is reportedly only 20% lighter than the 4S it seems a great deal lighter than that when holding it.  It almost feels like the dummy models you sometimes see on shop floors, only this is a real, working handset.  The weight, or lack of is most certainly a good thing.

The screen feels much larger than previous iPhones yet it doesn’t feel oversized like some of the other handsets I have used recently.  I am able to reach every area on the screen without having to stretch my thumb awkwardly.  I don’t want to turn this into a review of the iPhone 5 but suffice to say I was incredibly pleased with my purchase in almost all respects, all respects that is apart from one very crucial aspect – build quality.

Let me provide a little bit of background.  For the most part I enjoy using Apple kit.  I have a MacBook Pro, iPod, iPad 3 and I’ve owned an iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and now an iPhone 5.  I have always been more than happy with the build quality of the devices I have purchased.  Of course it is possible to damage them if you aren’t careful, but I have always felt that they were of a high build quality.  Upon initial inspection I naturally thought the same of my new iPhone 5 and indeed I expected no less.  This however may have been a somewhat hasty assumption.

I have now had the phone approximately eight hours and as you can imagine I have been incredibly careful with it.  The phone has been on my desk and in my pocket.  It has not been dropped or manhandled in any way, shape or form.  Unfortunately I have already noticed that part of the thin plastic trim that is wrapped around the edge of the screen is actually coming away from the phone.  This trim is so thin you would be forgiven for not even realising it was there, but there is a thin bit of black plastic around the edge of the glass.  I could easily pull it away from the phone and the whole thing would come off.  The problem is you can’t really ignore it because it protrudes from the phone so it is surely just a matter of time before it snags on something and completely snaps off.

The phone has literally been in my pocket for a few hours and it’s already starting to come apart – I have never experienced this kind of issue with any of my previous devices.  Can you imagine what it will be like in a week from now?  A month?  A year?  My white iPhone 4S still looks like new a year after purchase, yet the iPhone 5 is beginning to look tatty already.

I am going to get in touch with Apple and hopefully they will replace it for me.  Quite possibly this will be a one off incident and nobody else will experience this kind of defect but I wanted to provide some photos and let you guys know just in case this is the beginning of a trend.  I have never had to contact Apple customer service before as I have never had a problem with any of my devices, let alone a brand new iPhone only several hours after taking possession of it.  I realise that some products will have defects, that’s just the way it goes.  Perhaps I’m simply unlucky this time around – if that’s the case then I will of course understand.

I’m not angry with you Apple, I’m just disappointed.

You can right-click and download a high res 3993×2661 image here to see the fault in better detail.

** UPDATE – 2012/09/22 **
I spoke to Apple after sales this morning who were extremely helpful and have agreed to send me a replacement handset as soon as one is available.  They have also agreed to arrange the collection of the old handset in such a way that I am not without a phone at any point.  This is really great customer service.  Hopefully this fault was just a one off issue.  My faith in Apple, for the time being at least, has been restored.

** UPDATE – 2012/09/25 **
My replacement iPhone 5 arrived today and is immaculate.  The phone arrived much sooner than I was expecting, I had been told there would potentially be a several week wait.  This iPhone 5 certainly doesn’t have the same problem as the one it is replacing.

I now just need to arrange a collection of the old handset by the courier.  The Apple customer service has been extremely efficient and I am impressed – the customer service representative I spoke to was extremely helpful and I have absolutely no complaints.  Fingers crossed this iPhone will be trouble free.

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About the author

UK based photographer Mark J P.