Automation the key to testing very high volumes of advanced smartphones

February 10, 2014 //By Jean-Pierre Joosting
As wireless technology continues to evolve, the rise of the smartphone continues to gather pace along with the challenges of cost-effectively producing many millions of these devices. One critical component in the manufacturing chain is ensuring that test times for smartphones remain reasonable.

As wireless technology continues to evolve, the rise of the smartphone continues to gather pace along with the challenges of cost-effectively producing many millions of these devices. One critical component in the manufacturing chain is ensuring that test times for smartphones remain reasonable.

A leader in automated test systems, JOT Automation is driving the trend of automated test in many areas, not least the smartphone market. Testing a smartphone implies taking into consideration a multitude of functions, a list that is increasing with each generation. JOT Automation claim to offer systems that are capable of bringing complete testing of a smartphone down to just over a minute in many cases. To illustrate the necessity of keeping test times as short as possible without compromising coverage, consider that Apple and Samsung each churn out tens of millions of smartphones each quarter.

Board level and functional test

Board level testing is usually done on a panel comprising four PCBs (four phones). JOT provides test boxes that accommodate these panels. These test boxes have test fixtures that are able to accommodate 3rd part test instruments from leading companies such as Rhode & Schwarz, National Instruments, and Litepoint. The test boxes are contained in a rack system.

Automated handling is then added to the rack system. A key feature of such automated systems is their modularity, enabling customers to mix and match boxes, racks and handlers. A further benefit is that these modular systems are scalable.

Some of the checks performed by an automated system needed to fully test a smartphone include checking the screen has all the required pixels, making sure all the buttons work as required via a “finger-robot”, testing the phone transmits voice via an artificial ear and mouth, and testing the camera by taking pictures to ensure the camera works and zooms to specification. Automated test systems also need to check all interfaces, including HDMI, audio plug, USB and so

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