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.