Apple iPhone 5S
Apple will start producing iPhone 5S toward the end of this month as the device is expected to be released in the fourth quarter of this year. Reuters

The iPhone 5 has been in limited availability as production slows down to address a very scratchy issue.

Owners have complained that the sixth generation iPhone is very sensitive to everyday wear and tear, saying that the rim and back of the phone are easily scuffed and scratched, according to IT Portal. Some early reviewers even noted scuffs, nicks, chips and scratches as soon as the phone was taken out of the box.

“I realize that at some point this might happen from normal wear and tear, but right out of the box is unaccepted,” reviewer Matthew Pendergraff wrote on an Apple discussion board on Sept. 21 when the iPhone 5 was released.

The issue has been dubbed “scuffgate.”

Bloomberg reports that iPhone manufacturer Foxconn is slowing production on the Apple smartphone to tighten quality-control procedures. They say the issue originates from the new type of aluminum used on the iPhone in order to make it thinner and lighter.

Apple's senior vice president of marketing Phil Schiller has stated in what commentators are calling true Steve Jobs’ fashion that the scratching is normal.

"Any aluminum product may scratch or chip with use, exposing its natural silver color. This is normal," he said.

An insider told Bloomberg that Apple and Foxconn have clashed over issues between quality and quantity of production that may have trickled all the way down to the assembly lines. China Labor Watch reported that on Oct. 5 approximately 4,000 workers walked off the job in protest. Foxconn denies that any such incident occurred and says there have been no strikes or pauses in production.

However, workers have told Bloomberg that there has been difficulty producing enough iPhone units to meet both the quantity and quality standards.

“Every step in the iPhone 5 production processes, from the manufacturing of the aluminum housing to final assembly, offers opportunities to scratch the soft metal exterior, making it difficult to produce enough of the devices that can meet the new standards,” they said.

There is a shortage of iPhone 5 units in many stores and online. Apple’s website estimates shipping dates three weeks to one month after purchase.