Sources have told Bloomberg that Senior Apple managers insisted at the end of September that Foxconn picked up its game to tighten production standards. The metal cases are now being more closely scrutinized before they make it on to a phone. The knock-on effect: fewer scratches, but fewer iPhones, too.
It's only natural for aluminum to scuff and scratch, and putting a phone together offers plenty of opportunities for it to happen—but in reality, phones shouldn't be shipped in a state where they're already damaged. Clearly Apple realizes that.
Currently the quality clampdown means fewer of the phone's metal housings are being approved for use—to the extent that Foxconn even had to halt production for a day at one factory Shenzhen. Apple will no doubt want to find a middle ground as soon as possible, where damage is minimized but production doesn't suffer. [Bloomberg]