Battery Woes Just The Latest iPhone Hardware Problem, But Is There Real Trouble At Apple?

Posted on 04 December, 2016

In my “Apple is Doomed” post the other day, one of the many claims I noted that’s been running around is: “ Even Apple’s hardware is terrible.” And there have been high-profile hardware issues with both the iPhone 6 (“Bendgate” and “Touch Disease”) as well as the 6s which suffered from battery issues. But while it should probably come as no surprise some of the hundreds of million of iPhones sold each year have hardware issues, the question is whether Apple’s handling of this is evidence of some decline in quality — however that might be measured.

A Galaxy of woes

In most years since the iPhone’s introduction nearly a decade ago, Apple has released just one new phone annually. That puts a great deal of pressure on the company to get it just right. Back in 2010, though, the iPhone 4 was in trouble almost from the moment it was released. The “Antennagate” fiasco was caused by a design flaw that Apple initially remedied by a combination of blaming users, offering free cases, and then redesigning the iPhone in subsequent models.

Apple would then go 4 years before experiencing a truly embarrassing iPhone hardware fiasco. The iPhone 6 brought a brand new design, with a thinner chassis that had some very clear weak points. The result was that the phone was prone to bending if placed in back pockets. Apple generally offered replacements to affected customers and made some small but critical design changes to the iPhone 6s chassis to make it much more difficult to bend.

Over time, it seems an unfortunate side effect of the chassis flex — at least for some iPhone 6 Plus users — is that they later suffered a problem with their screens that became known as Touch Disease. Only very recently did Apple acknowledge the problem with a reduced cost repair program. Similarly, a long-known battery issue affecting some iPhone 6s owners was also recently given special status.

The elephant on the airplane

Anyone who has flown on a plane recently has been reminded the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is now as forbidden aboard aircraft as firearms and most 5 oz. bottles of shampoo . That brand-harming announcement is likely to be made for years to come, in no small part due to Samsung’s slow and arguably inept handling of the exploding battery issues with that model. Not only was the Note 7 an actual danger, the public-relations nightmare surrounding it meant it had to be removed from the market entirely.