Foxconn has started to replace its factory workers with robots, according to a CNET report. The move is designed to improve efficiency and combat rising labor costs.
The first batch of 10,000 robots — nicknamed “Foxbots” — have arrived in at least one Foxconn factory, with another 20,000 due by the end of the year, according to a Singularity Hub post. The robots cost between $20,000 and $25,000 apiece to produce — about three times the average annual salary of Foxconn’s factory workers, according to a report on the Chinese Web site TechWeb.
Foxconn says the shortage in iPhone 5 supplies is due to the difficulty in assembling its complicated design, reports the WSJ.
“The iPhone 5 is the most difficult device that Foxconn has ever assembled. To make it light and thin, the design is very complicated,” said an official at the company who declined to be named. “It takes time to learn how to make this new device. Practice makes perfect. Our productivity has been improving day by day.”
The site also learned that steps have been taken to prevent phones from being shipped out with scratches.
The executive said Hon Hai has taken steps to improve its productivity and address scratches on the metal casings of some new iPhones that were shipped. Hon Hai has recently implemented a new quality check procedure to reduce the chance of damages. But he noted the iPhone 5 uses a new coating material that makes it more susceptible to scratching.
“It’s always hard to satisfy both aesthetic needs and practical needs,” said the executive.
M.I.C. Gadget reveals that an iPhone 5 prototype had recently gone missing from the Shenzhen district. “This should explain why we are seeing a whole lot of iPhone 5 cases in China today”, the publication concludes.
Much like the widely publicized iPhone 4 prototype that had gone missing at a German beer bar in California, the missing handset was camouflaged in an iPhone 4-like case (strange because the teardrop phone is wider and taller). Inside: A test model with a finalized iPhone 5 chassis sporting the teardrop design. The publication then builds on this tip by speculating that the device houses “slightly modified iPhone 4 electronics” plus the A4 chip “and even the same amount of memory”.
If this is true, then the tear drop iPhone may be the low end device, and the one inside the iPhone 4 case might be the high end.