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30 Sep, 2023
2 min time to read

Microscopic QR codes on iPhone screens assist Apple in reducing production defects.

In a quiet but innovative move, Apple is putting microscopic QR codes on iPhone screens starting in 2020. This discovery sheds light on how the tech giant manages to save hundreds of millions of dollars in manufacturing costs. Tiny QR codes, the size of grains of sand, are strategically placed on the iPhone screen at various stages of production, allowing Apple to gain vital information about the supply chain.

Also hidden QR codes are placed on internal components, allowing Apple to trace the origin of these items and making it easier to track and reduce defects on the production line. These tiny barcodes, virtually invisible to the naked eye, can only be detected with specialized equipment. Apple's innovative system not only helps identify the source of production problems, but also increases supply chain visibility.

The report indicates that Apple's Chinese suppliers, Lens Technology and Biel Crystal, previously created problems with defect tracking. Now, through the use of hidden QR codes, Apple can accurately monitor the amount of glass cover units produced and identify defective products rejected during the manufacturing process. Apple has invested millions to equip its Lens and Biel plants with the technology needed to both apply and scan QR codes.

In some iPhone models, such as iPhone 12, the QR code is discreetly located right above the front speaker. In more recent modifications, the code is laser-engraved on a black bezel near the bottom edge of the screen. The report also goes on to detail the challenges involved in developing these hidden QR codes.

Since implementing these hidden QR codes, Apple has seen a significant reduction in the number of defective glass cover units, from 3 out of 10 pieces to 1 out of 10. This significant improvement means that Apple is saving hundreds of millions of dollars annually, further demonstrating the company's commitment to optimizing its supply chain and ensuring product quality.