Ever wondered how a small but powerful device in your hands was made? Smartphones are literally mini-PCs in your hand.
To be honest, it makes you wonder how companies like Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi and Nokia are able to do it. Some of the smartphones even have more RAM than most laptops out there.
If you have been looking closely. You would have noticed that smartphones have been evolving at a rapid rate. A flagship smartphone from 3 years ago can’t compare to a budget smartphone now.
The rate at evolution is so alarming that we might actually get to all glass smartphones. Anyways, on how smartphones are made. These are the materials and steps manufacturers take in making a smartphone for you.
What Materials Are Smartphones Made Of
Your smartphone is a gold mine of materials. Plastic, glass, copper, nickel, gold, etc. The materials are so numerous it will be impossible to mention everything. But, the major ones are plastic, glass, copper, nickel, lithium cobalt oxide and gold. Every material has a role to play.
The plastic is not ordinary plastic but hardened plastic that can withstand a drastic change in temperatures and shocks.
Plastic is mostly used for the outer case of the smartphone. It’s also used internally. Majority of budget smartphones have plastic bodies. They are flexible and do not cause any telecommunication network problems.
Aside from having a plastic body. Higher-end and budget smartphones having metallic bodies. Aluminium is popularly used for making these bodies.
Flagships smartphones are more of a combination of an aluminium or metallic frame and glass. This makes the flagship smartphone beautiful and has a premium design. The glass is not normal glass but reinforced glass.
Glass made from aluminium oxide, sodium oxide and silicon oxide. The glass has been designed to withstand shocks, bumps and falls. They are used to make the display of the smartphone.
When it comes to the circuitry. Gold, copper and silver are used for the wires. They have high electrical conductivity. In addition to that, gold and silver are resistant to corrosion. There are also traces of rare earth metals found in your phone.
The materials that make it possible for your battery to hold an electrical charge are lithium cobalt oxide and graphite.
Their ions make it possible to hold charges when connected to a power supply. When disconnected they slowly discharge providing electricity to the circuitry in the phone.
You could say they are the heart of the device. Because without them you won’t be able to power up your smartphone.
Because of the sheer number of materials smartphones contain. Recycling a large amount of them tends to be profitable. You can obtain appreciable quantities of gold and silver. Get enough of this and you might become rich.
Where Are Smartphones Made
Majority of smartphones are made in China. iPhones are made in China. The person using a smartphone next to you was made in China. China produces the largest amount of smartphones.
Because they have the factories to produce a large number of phones. In addition to that, labour is fairly cheap. But they are not the only ones. Korea, Vietnam, Canada, India, Brazil and the USA also produce a lot of smartphones.
Assembling is different from making the product. Assembling is putting the pieces together to create a finished product. Making is creating the individual pieces and assembling them to create the finished product.
The Manufacturing Process Of Making A Smartphone
Companies go through several steps in order to bring you the finished product.
Every smartphone or technological device was a concept. A concept or prototype is presented. Suggestions are made on what the phone should look like.
They give an idea of how the end product should look like. What market is it intended for? Should it have that feature or it can be excluded. It more of a drawing and present an idea on paper.
It is during this step where all the pieces are put together. Several of these prototypes or concept models are made. The final decision is made by selecting which one is best for the targeted market.
2. Deciding The Hardware
Now that the decision has been made. Next is to make the parts of the device. The internals is like the circulatory system. Without them, the phone can’t work.
Also, if it sustains serious damage the phone will stop working. With the target market in mind. The engineers decide on what processor, camera, battery, build quality etc. should go into the phone.
The decision on what hardware the smartphone should have is executed in this step.
Now it’s time for the construction. The parts are made in factories or procured elsewhere. They are then put together to create a working product.
This is where labour is intensive and precision is important. Some parts are so small they can cause problems for the end user if not done properly. My smartphone had a problem where there was a fault with the LCD cable. This made it not respond to touch at all.
So I had to order a new LCD to rectify the problem. That’s how important the construction process is. Sometimes the problem is not from the construction but from faulty parts.
4. Installing the Software
After putting the parts together. The next thing is to install the software. Without the software, the smartphone won’t boot up rendering it useless.
It is through the software you are able to use your smartphone. It can be android or iOS depending on what company the smartphone belongs to.
5. Quality Control
This is where the smartphone is tested to find any faults. Unfortunately, some brand new smartphones still cause problems for the end user.
Or manufacturers skip this step entirely leading to some bad apples. The smartphone undergoes rigorous testing to make sure the hardware and software do not have any faults.
Examples of such test are continuous usage of a pop-up camera for long periods of time as shown below.
It can also be bending test, waterproof test or even dropping the phone from a height. All done to make sure the smartphone has no faults.
The final step is then to mass produce the smartphones, packaged and shipped out to various places.
Items included in the package are user manual, USB cable, and a charger head. Aggressive advertisements are done to get you the customer’s attention.