Apple Inc. (AAPL) reportedly has been receiving growing numbers of complaints about the iPhone 12, commencing soon after its release in November 2020. Key problems include unduly quick battery drain, ineffective wireless charging, display issues (flickering, green or gray glow, and other unintended lighting variations), and unexpected network connection drops.
- Growing numbers of iPhone 12 buyers are reporting problems.
- Issues include fast battery drain, odd displays, and dropped connections.
- Touch screens on some iPhone 11 models also are failing.
- Apple’s reputation for quality control has been seriously damaged.
Touch Screen Failures on iPhone 11
In addition to the increasing issues related to the iPhone 12, Apple has acknowledged that “a small percentage” of iPhone 11 devices manufactured between November 2019 and May 2020 have ceased responding to touch due to faulty display modules. Customers can enter their iPhone 11 serial numbers on Apple’s website to see if they are eligible for free repairs.
However, Apple warns: “If your iPhone 11 has any damage which impairs the ability to complete the repair, such as a cracked screen, that issue will need to be resolved prior to the service. In some cases, there may be a cost associated with the additional repair.”
Other iPhone Quality Problems
Green-tinted displays also were an issue with the iPhone 11. Meanwhile, Apple recently was fined by regulators in Italy for “aggressive and misleading” sales practices regarding the water resistance of iPhone models 8 through 11, which did not meet the company’s claims in independent tests.
Significance For Investors
Quality control and pre-release testing by Apple and its suppliers appear to be slipping. Even if repairs come at no cost to customers, getting them done can be highly inconvenient. Customers must bring their malfunctioning iPhones to an Apple retail store or authorized service provider, if they can find one open amid COVID-19 restrictions, or ship them to an Apple repair center. Given that Apple has worked hard to make the iPhone a necessity for many people, leaving customers without the use of one for any period of time inevitably will create negative attitudes toward the company.
Unknown at this point is the cost to Apple of making the needed fixes. If some problems can be resolved with software updates, the cost should be minimal. But if widespread hardware replacements or repairs are necessary, the expense could become significant. As one observer notes with respect to the iPhone 11 display module problem, “Apple didn’t put a number to its ‘small percentage’ but with almost 40M [40 million] iPhone 11 units sold between January and June 2020, it only takes a small percentage to add up to millions of units.”
As reports of problems with the iPhone 12 increase, a slowdown in sales becomes more likely. Such a slowdown may become more pronounced if wait times for repairs are lengthy.
Additionally, the more iPhone 12 buyers encounter problems, the more stress will be placed on the customer service function at Apple. If this creates longer wait times and response times for other customers, their satisfaction with the company and its products may decline as well.
As a result, increasingly wary consumers may think twice about buying any Apple devices. A particular risk for Apple involves the many eager early adopters of its products. If growing numbers of these loyal customers conclude that Apple is using them as its quality control testers while charging them for the privilege, their enthusiasm for future product releases is bound to be dampened.