Automation the key to testing very high volumes of advanced smartphones: Page 2 of 6

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.
on. Radios need to be verified that they work as required at the right frequencies.

Though not an exhaustive list of the tests required the above list gives one an idea of the quantitative and qualitative tests required to verify a smartphone. For example, testing the camera with an automated system removes variable human perceptions of picture quality, ensuring the same result for every smartphone under test. It is also much faster.

Future technology developments

Customers require a partner that can meet their requirements in the years to come. One such example in the case of smartphones is in emerging radio technologies. RF complexity poses problems on the test side and most of this is carried by the instrument suppliers. On the automated test side, JOT specialises in making the environment as isolated from interference as possible to be able to test all frequencies and radios. However, the better the isolation the higher the cost. This implies a trade-off between reasonable cost for the RF test box and performance.

Since the JOT’s automated systems are modular and scalar such trade-offs can be catered for, depending on the end-user requirements. Modularity, also enables the test system to be upgraded as needed as technology advances.

Why automated test?

Smartphones are complex and consequently require significantly longer test times. Further, the volume of smartphones manufactured each year is enormous and increasing. According to market research firm Juniper Research, the number of smartphone shipments exceeded a quarterly record of 250 million in Q3 2013, representing a year-on-year growth of almost 49% from Q3 2012, and quarter-on-quarter growth of 10%.

With such volumes, reliability and quality are key issues for manufacturers when it comes to maintaining customer loyalty and avoiding expensive recalls. In addition, as test times rise with increasing smartphone complexity and functionality, along with higher smartphone volumes, higher labour costs come into play as more technicians are required to test devices. These are

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