The iPad mini: are you ready for Scuffgate on a grand scale?

By , Oct 11, 2012

October 10 has come and gone without an Apple invitation (Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt who called for it apologized), prompting watchers to wonder about a smaller and cheaper iPad Apple’s rumored to be close to launching under the iPad mini moniker.

According to a supply chain report today, Apple is facing quality control issues with the device’s display and chassis, suggesting that shipments are not smooth at the moment due to low yield rates. The report notes that the iPad mini will come in native and black-colored aluminum chassis said to be “more vulnerable to scratching”. That doesn’t sound good.

The manufacturing difficulties are being blamed on anodizing, a finish process where aluminum thrown into a pool of chemicals and then running an electrical current through the acid bath, which produces a skin-deep layer that can easily be peeled off. The anodized finish process on the black cases for the iPad mini is reportedly “more critical”, resulting in lower yield rates…

This one comes from the somewhat-reliable DigiTimes, an Asian trade publication otherwise well versed in manufacturing and supply chain topics.

The sources pointed out that although the iPad Mini’s chassis adopts a similar material as the 9.7-inch model, the iPad Mini’s design and tactile feel will be different from those of the larger model.

The report goes on to note that the upcoming 13-inch MacBook Pro with the Retina Display, the iPad mini and new iMacs have all been delayed from September to October amid manufacturing issues.

Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White is touring Asian supply chain and last week speculated that “complex components” could delay the iPad mini for several months.


Designer Martin Hajek’s rendition of an iPhone 4S, iPad mini and regular iPad.

The analyst wrote in a note to investors:

Our team sensed that suppliers have found the specs around Apple’s 7.85-inch iPad mini to be a challenge and yields have been frustrating.

In our view, this is the reason the iPad mini is 4-6 weeks behind our original launch expectation that we discussed in June.

That said, we believe that supply constraints will initially hold back the full sales potential during the first month or so of the launch.

He also said “Apple did not skimp” on the aesthetics, leading him to believe that the iPad mini “could outshine” the new iPad in terms of how it feels in your hands.

Apple, of course, is also busy addressing the iPhone 5 supply shortfall and quality control issues with the handset’s metal backing which collects scratches from “normal” wear and tear.

A week ago, DigiTimes also reported that the iPad mini’s aluminum chassis is being made by Foxconn Electronics, Catcher Technology and Ri-Teng Computer Accessory, an associate company of Pegatron, Apple’s other favorite product assembler, after Foxconn.

Other iPad mini suppliers reportedly include TPK Holdings and Largan Precision.


Hopefully, the iPad mini won’t scratch just as easily as the iPhone 5

As for product assembly, the iPad mini will be made by both Pegatron and Foxconn, which was the sole maker for the previous iPad lineup. The first wave of orders will be distributed evenly among the two contract manufacturers, the report notes.

DigiTimes also has another story up (subscription required) claiming that production of a fourth-generation iPad is scheduled to begin in mid-2013, marking an unusual exception from first-quarter launches of all iPads to date.

What do you make of this?

Is Apple really that naive to elevate Scuffgate to the next level by engineering the iPad mini around the same Unibody anodized aluminum casing as the iPhone 5?

Scuffgate on a grand scale, anyone?

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  • twited21

    In a word NO
    I won’t be buying one

  • http://twitter.com/x_rus_x Vitaliy Anonymous

    I’ll be laughing my ass off if Apple does not release an iPad Mini (it just doesn’t make sense). But if it does, then I will be laughing at Apple.

    • ReanimationXP

      Yes, the boom of 7″ Nexus sales shows there simply isn’t a market.. -_-

      • CollegiateLad

        lol @ boom.

    • ReanimationXP

      Just thought I’d pop back in and ask why the now-released iPad Mini is outselling the regular iPad?

      Yes, boom.

  • GNexusPhone5

    You guys are such a Troll

    • CollegiateLad

      Christian is the biggest one.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adhithya-Gokul/100000719983155 Adhithya Gokul

      Then I suggest you don’t read a blog run by a bunch of trolls . Why read all the posts and then complain

  • ReanimationXP

    Personally all this scuffgate nonsense is the same dog and pony show every year. People complain about problems with things I never personally encounter using the products. Antennagate? No issues with my 4. Mapgate? Works great in my area at least, while Google Maps totally failed me in SFO while I was at WWJC. Scuffgate? That’s like buying a Ferarri and telling them it scratches too easy. When you make products like Apple, people’s expectations become unrealistic.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adhithya-Gokul/100000719983155 Adhithya Gokul

      Same for me. I havent had a single issue too. Its becoming more like jailbreaking. Everytime a new jailbreak is released I see complaints all over the net that it bricked the phone, not booting, struck with apple logo blah blah but I didnt have a problem even once. People do something wrong and all they do is complain. But if the phone comes with scratch out of the box like some people claim ( if at all is true ) then I might be concerned

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      scuff gate is real… apple went cheap and messed up the black iphone 5s FACT

    • goofygreek

      Yea, 4 of my friends got the iphone 5, one got white, the rest got black. All 3 black ones had minor scuff marks within 2 days. And that was without dropping them, or hitting them, just normal use. So they all returned the black ones and are waiting for white ones now.

  • Blake

    Who cares about scuffgate! It looks nice, and if you take care of your expensive electronics it wont get scratched!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jesus.delatorre.98 Jesus De La Torre

    Can’t wait for the iPad mini XL!

  • http://www.facebook.com/antman217 Anthony Antunez

    “Scuffgate”, biggest example of #firstworldproblems. As if all your other shit hasn’t gotten scratched over time. Come on people get a grip.

  • @dongiuj

    Carbon fiber! Come on girls, stop using aluminium, switch to the carbon bad boy.

  • http://twitter.com/therealjdizzle Jason Masters

    You mean on a MINI scale!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ba-Tongxue/100003554938315 Ba Tongxue

    Oh elegant stuff always need careful preservation.
    They deserve it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jawn.weedbix Sandy Cook

    Anodizing isn’t the issue, it’s the shitty decorative ano they employed (which isn’t suited to handling abrasion) instead of hard ano

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=566015722 Adam Lorens

    It’s real, it’s happening to ipad mini in black. I got my refund today. Less than 5 days after purchase I noticed nasty signs of paint peeling off. It wasn’t like scratches, simply the paint peeling off.

    • http://www.facebook.com/nigelhill Nigel Hill

      It doesn’t have any paint on it….
      And anodizing bonds the color directly to the metal. IT CAN’T PEEL and who ever wrote this article doesn’t have a clue what they are talking about.
      It can scratch off but that process is the same as scratching bare aluminium to show more aluminium below. It’s just a fact of life. But it’s not a peeling process.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3KOCJHV4NTLBSRRRHIZO7WISK4 yahoo-3KOCJHV4NTLBSRRRHIZO7WISK4

    Nope, it’s a real problem. I don’t have an iPhone 5 but my slate-colored iPad mini is showing signs of wear around the edges. I use a hard plastic snap-on shell for the back in combination with an Apple smart cover, however, because the edges of the unit are not protected by the case or the cover, the finish on these has begun to flake off where I’ve apparantly grazed the unit when carrying it around in my coat pocket. It’s a wool coat with very few metal adornments (a zipper and that’s about it) so I figured it would be safe in there. Otherwise the iPad sits on my desk at work, where it helps supplant my aging office PC for many tasks, or it’s on a rubber-lined stand on my desk at home…or I’m carrying it around in my hands. Still, I’ve been verrrry careful with it so it must be that the finish just isn’t very durable. Frankly, I’m surprised Apple would let this slip by with all of the product testing they purport to conduct. Meanwhile, my way-excellent iPhone 4 still looks like new despite having been dropped about a ga-jillion times over the past few years. If I upgrade anytime soon it’ll be to an iPhone 4S, not a 5.