Apple Watch rollout slowed by a faulty component

April 30, 2015, 12:08 PM UTC

A faulty component in Apple’s new Watch is set to delay shipments.

The Wall Street Journal reported late Wednesday that a key component of the new device made by one of two suppliers was found to be defective, which has led Apple to limit the availability of the new smartwatch.

The defective part is the taptic engine, which was designed by Apple (AAPL) to produce the sensation of being tapped on the wrist, the Journal said. Testing has revealed that some taptic engines are breaking down over time. Apple doesn’t plan a recall because there’s no indication that Apple shipped any watches with the defective part to customers, the newspaper reported.

Apple last week told some Watch suppliers to slow production until June, without explaining why, according to the Journal, which cited people familiar with Apple’s supply chain.

News of the component issue comes as early adopters of Apple’s first new product in five years are complaining that a number of its key functions are disrupted by their tattoos.

Owners of Apple Watch have found that their inked skin confuses the sensors on the underside of the device.

Users of the watch, which went on sale last week, took to social media on Thursday under the hashtag #tattoogate to air their frustration with the flaw from Apple’s renowned design house.

One anonymous user on Reddit, an entertainment, social networking, and user-generated news website, said the device’s locking mechanism, which should disengage when the watch detects it is being worn, failed to work on decorated skin.
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“My hand isn’t tattooed and the Watch stayed unlocked. Once I put it back on the area that is tattooed with black ink, the watch would automatically lock again,” the user wrote.

A website support page from the company says tattoos can interfere with readings from the heart rate monitor, but does not mention interference with other functions.

“Permanent or temporary changes to your skin, such as some tattoos, can also impact heart rate sensor performance. The ink, pattern, and saturation of some tattoos can block light from the sensor, making it difficult to get reliable readings,” it said.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

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