As part of a 19-day trip to explore and experience tech in seven cities in Asia, I joined a small group of journalists to tour a factory where Huawei makes its phones. It's fascinating stuff, but highly proprietary -- so I'm not allowed to say much. Here's what I can share without spilling any secrets.
1. You get to suit up
Cleanliness is key for any factory line, and Huawei tamps down contaminants by supplying every guest with a smock to button over street clothes, a hat and slip-on sandals. We crammed the rest of our stuff into lockers. I looked awesome (see photographic evidence of said awesomeness below). If you don't make it past the facility's metal detector, you don't go in -- and I appreciate that.
2. Robot arms are mesmerizing
I could stare at the whirring, dancing arms of production robots all day long. It's hypnotic. I ponder the feats of mechanical engineering required to create the machines that help make other machines.
3. You can make a lot of phones in a month
I can't share with you exactly how many phones this particular factory makes each month, but it's an impressive number. Phones are complex devices with a lot of parts, and watching them being built and tested each step of the way whips up real understanding for a process that's often taken for granted, from the first circuit board to the labeled shipping box.
A tremendous amount of work goes into making the phones in our pockets, so much more than is evident from just looking at the box.