Touch Panel Defects To Affect iPhone 5 Availability?

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While it’s near impossible to say what exactly Apple has in store for us come October, a new report from DigiTimes reveals that there may be fewer iPhone 5s to go around if it indeed makes its debut.

Some of the iPhone 5 touch panels that manufacturer Wintek has assembled are turning out to be defective, and could potentially cause a supply shortage come launch day.

The displays are plagued by what are called “delayed bubbles,” where small pockets of gas are trapped between the touch panel and the lamination layer. It’s apparently a tough defect to avoid during the production process, and it’s made even worse as it’s usually only spotted during assembly.

DigiTimes reports that it’s a minor gaffe as far as fixes are concerned: the iPhone 5 uses the same manufacturing process as its predecessor, and sources say Wintek is expected to rectify things pretty quickly. The company, who is said to be producing about 20 to 25% of the iPhone 5’s touch panels, would likely agree with that sentiment. Though Wintek has kept quiet about how many of their panels have been affected, the official statement is that all orders will ship on schedule.

Though Wintek accounts for a smaller fraction of the production workload (TPK Holding and Chimei Innolux are working on the remaining 75-80%), DigiTimes sources say Apple is hoping to ship nearly 26 million iPhone 5s in Q4. In order to hit those numbers, Apple is going to need all their hardware partners on deck, and Wintek needs to brush themselves off and get back to work.