Undercover: How Someone Infiltrated Foxconn To See How They Make The iPhone 5

A reporter from the Shanghai Evening Post pretended to be a new worker at the Foxconn Tai Yuan factory to get an insider's look at how the factory is going to make the next iPhone 5. He spent a total of 10 days inside and gave us the undercover story of what goes on in the making of the next iPhone.

According to the Shanghai Evening Post, the reporter cum Foxconn worker spent the first 7 days in a gruelling training orientation — which included harrowing tales of filthy and smelly dorms, interrogations, force-agreeing to sign waivers, obeying commands and more. He eventually gains access to the factory floor and describes the top security area at the entrance of the room:

We are told that if anyone enter or exit the metal detector door and found carrying any metallic stuff on your body such as belt buckle, ear rings, cameras, handset, MP3 players, the alarm will sound and you will be fired on the spot. One of my roommate told me that his friend has been fired because he carried an USB charging cable.

It's serious business. In fact, the supervisors inside the factory constantly remind the workers that it's a privilege to build the iPhone 5, motivating them by showing off a new part and saying things like "this is the new unleashed iPhone 5 back plate, you should be honored having the chance to produce it". But the work is terribly mundane.

The worker had to mark an iPhone 5's backplate at 4 position points with an oil-based paint pent and put it back on the belt — if that sounds easy, it's not because an iPhone 5 backplate ran through the belt in front of him every 3 seconds, so everything had to be completed in that time. Plus, he worked from midnight to 6:00am nonstop, on his estimates the hidden journalist could finish 3,000 iPhone 5 backplates per shift. That is mind numbing.

That's the reality of the situation in making an iPhone (and any uber-popular gadget, really) these days. We get to enjoy the future at the cost of factory workers fighting through the mundane. An unfortunate tradeoff.

Read more about the insider at Foxconn at MIC Gadget, who translated and summarised the report. [Shanghai Evening Post (translated) via MIC Gadget]


Comments

    Anti apple comment in 3-2-1

      Probably better to write your own comment than predicting what someone else's will be. More interesting that way. :)

      This story could apply to any tech company. I suppose with Apple it helps bring it further into the public conciousness given the prominence of that company, especially near the time of the new product release.

        I think that's what's more commonly referred to as link bait.

    Yay!!! Slaves thankful for being slaves :D Gina Rinehart would be proud.

    I don't really understand why most of this stuff can't be automated.

    Obviously I wouldn't want to kick these people out of a job, they obviously need the money.

      It's more expensive. Robots cost millions and cost millions to replace. Workers cost a pittance and in many countries the dead and maimed cost nothing.

      Plus the robots have a better union than us.

    It's amazing isn't it? 2012 and we still get workers to hand assemble stuff like this, when you sort of imagine it should all be done by programmed machines at every stage... like decades of industry propaganda have promised us. Instead we find that even in the glorious "future" age we're still using the ancient 18th century work practices- i.e the old cotton mills, with unskilled labourers doing unskilled, mind numbing work on an assembly line.

    I suppose all tech companies are like this in reality, weather it's TVs, fridges, webcams or whatever.

      an unemployment rate in Asia will go through the roof
      westerns should really stop applying micro economy of US to the Asian market... its just different
      they have 2billion pl in there wtf are u planing to do with 2billion skilled workers?

        build a death star.

        Not really since you're only thinking about them being used as dirt cheap labour to make tech goods for Westerners at low prices. That's not their only option in life or the only option for Asia. It'd be great to see that economy producing more goods for its own market and us Westerners finally paying the true costs for these products (not just from Apple), instead of them being subsidised through the low wages of drudge workers.

      it would be so costly to build, fully automate, and maintain an entire production like for every single incarnation of the iphone and ipad... crazy cheaper to get the chinese to do it

        You imagine, you suppose.
        You dont know the reality of the differences between factories producing apple products and other tech companies.
        The conditions at apple are incomparable to your 'other tech companies'
        Trying to make yourself feel better with the 'me too' argument?

    They look like pci graphIcs cards being assembled. The one on the right has a heat sink on it with a fan

    lol yes they are graphics cards not iphones

    why is the word cum in this article?

    That is the correct context for the word. Just like how bukkake is type of noodle dish. Some words are miss used and that just leaves a bad taste in your mouth

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