The making of an iPhone (pictures)

Apple contracts with manufacturers to assemble iPhones. Two of those companies, Foxconn and Pegatron, both based in Taiwan, build iPhones in the Chinese cities of Zhengzhou, Shenzhen, and Shanghai.


Jay Greene

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Job hunting at Foxconn

Apple hires Foxconn to make most of its iPhones. Foxconn, in turn, hires hundreds of thousands of Chinese to do the labor. The jobs are in such high demand that workers line up at recruiters outside Foxconn's Zhengzhou factory. Many of the recruits in this group brought suitcases in case they land jobs at other Foxconn factories in China.
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Foxconn's massive Zhengzhou factory

Foxconn's massive campus in Zhenghzhou, the capital of Henan Province, sprawls over 2.2 miles. The plants, where reportedly 130,000 people work, assemble an estimated 70 percent of all iPhones.
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Traveling for work

One Foxconn recruit at the Zhengzhou factory is Li Yue, a 21-year-old student at Henan Police College. She managed to land summer work, but in Taiyuan, a 10-hour bus ride away.
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Under construction

The amount of construction for Foxconn in Zhengzhou is staggering. Everywhere near the factory, new buildings are going up.
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Massive expansion

Another view of the construction activity. According to Chinese media reports, the company plans to grow from 130,000 workers now to 300,000.
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Jujube trees

In Zhengzhou, there are still some jujube trees, which produce the date-like fruit. But many have been replaced by Foxconn's sprawling factory complex.
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A slight typo

Construction is moving so fast in Zhengzhou that street signs are going up without much copy editing. This sign shows directions to Foxconn, even if the English spelling isn't quite right.
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At a crossroads

Two of the roads on the Foxconn Zhengzhou campus take their names from two of the Chinese characters that make up the company's name -- Fu Street and Kang Road.
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Dormitory living, Foxconn-style

Many of the workers at Foxconn's Zhengzhou plant live in dormitories like these owned by the company. They generally live eight workers to a room, sleeping in bunk beds.
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Zhengzhou street scene

The streets near Foxconn's Zhengzhou dormitories are lined with vendors, selling food and clothes. Other than the vendors, most of the people walking these streets work at the Foxconn factory.
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Wearing the company colors

Foxconn assembly line workers wear these polo shirts at work. Streams of Foxconn-shirted workers flow in and out of factory gates at shift change time.
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New dorms for workers

To accommodate the massive growth Foxconn plans for Zhengzhou, these buildings, most likely new dormitories, are going up near the current stock of dormitory buildings.
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Foxconn's Shenzhen plant

Foxconn operates factories in several Chinese cities, including two campuses in Shenzhen, the south China city that borders Hong Kong. This is the gate of the smaller of those two factories, in Shenzhen's Guanlan neighborhood, where the company employs 160,000 workers. Foxconn employs another 240,000 workers at the plant in the Longhua neighborhood.
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Suicide nets at Foxconn

After several suicides and suicide attempts at Foxconn's factories, including this one in Shenzhen's Guanlan neighborhood, the company installed netting to discourage employees from jumping off its buildings.
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Pegatron's iPhone factory

Foxconn is not the only contract manufacturer to assemble iPhones. Apple also contracts with Pegatron to build iPhones at this factory in Shanghai.
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Color-coded shirts at Pegatron

Pegatron workers, like the ones at Foxconn, also wear shirts with the company emblem. Here, the shirts are color-coded, indicating the line on which the employee works. Red shirted workers assemble iPhones.
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Pegatron hiring--no fee required

Young Chinese are often so keen to work for contract manufacturers such as Pegatron that they pay recruiters to find them jobs. The sign outside this Pegatron building in Shanghai reads: "Our company hires employees without an extra fee."
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Apple's and Foxconn's nemesis

Debby Chan, who works for the Hong Kong-based group Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior or SACOM, has been one of the most outspoken critics of Apple and Foxconn. Here, she's standing outside Foxconn's factory in the Guanlan neighborhood of Shenzhen in south China.

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