Anyone who has bought an iPod, iPhone, or other Apple product has seen the note on the company’s packaging that its products are designed in California. But that doesn’t mean they’re manufactured there. Answering the question of where the iPhone is made isn’t simple.
Assembled vs. Manufactured
When trying to understand where Apple manufactures its devices, there are two key concepts that sound similar but are actually different: assembling and manufacturing.
Manufacturing is the process of making the components that go into the iPhone. While Apple designs and sells the iPhone, it doesn’t manufacture its components. Instead, Apple uses on manufacturers from around the world to deliver individual parts. The manufacturers specialize in particular items—camera specialists manufacture the lens and camera assembly, screen specialists build the display, etc.
Assembling, on the other hand, is the process of taking all of the individual components built by specialist manufacturers and combining them into a finished, working iPhone.
The iPhone’s Component Manufacturers
Since there are hundreds of individual components in every iPhone, it’s not possible to list every manufacturer whose products are found on the phone. It’s also very hard to list exactly where those components are made (especially because sometimes one company builds the same component at multiple factories).
Some of the suppliers of key or interesting parts for the iPhone 5S, 6, and 6S (according to IHS and Macworld), and where they operate, include:
- Accelerometer: Bosch Sensortech. Based in Germany, with locations in the U.S., China, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan
- Audio chips: Cirrus Logic. Based in the U.S., with locations in the U.K., China, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Singapore
- Battery: Samsung. Based in South Korea, with locations in 80 countries
- Battery: Sunwoda Electronic. Based in China
- Camera: Qualcomm. Based in the U.S., with locations in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, and more than a dozen locations through Europe and Latin America
- Camera: Sony. Based in Japan, with locations in dozens of countries
- Chips for 3G/4G/LTE networking: Qualcomm.
- Compass: AKM Semiconductor. Based in Japan, with locations in the U.S., France, England, China, South Korea, and Taiwan
- Glass screen: Corning. Based in the U.S., with locations in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, The Netherlands, Turkey, the U.K., and the United Arab Emirates
- Gyroscope: STMicroelectronics. Based in Switzerland, with locations 35 countries
- Flash memory: Toshiba. Based in Japan, with locations in over 50 countries
- Flash memory: Samsung.
- LCD screen: Sharp. Based in Japan, with locations in 13 countries
- LCD screen: LG. Based in South Korea, with locations in Poland and China
- A-series Processor: Samsung.
- A-series Processor: TSMC. Based in Taiwan, with locations in China, Singapore, and the U.S.
- Touch ID: TSMC
- Touch ID: Xintec. Based in Taiwan.
- Touchscreen controller: Broadcom. Based in the U.S., with locations in Israel, Greece, the U.K., the Netherlands, Belgium, France, India, China, Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea
- Wi-Fi chip: Murata. Based in the U.S., with locations in Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, India, Vietnam, The Netherlands, Spain, the U.K., Germany, Hungary, France, Italy, and Finland
The iPhone’s Assemblers
The components manufactured by those companies all around the world are ultimately sent to just two companies to assemble into iPods, iPhones, and iPads.
Those companies are Foxconn and Pegatron, both of which are based in Taiwan.
Technically, Foxconn is the company’s trade name; the firm’s official name is Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd. Foxconn is Apple’s longest running partner in building these devices. It currently assembles the majority of Apple’s iPhones in its Shenzen, China, location though Foxconn maintains factories in countries across the world, including Thailand, Malaysia, the Czech Republic, South Korea, Singapore, and the Philippines.
Pegatron is a relatively recent addition to the iPhone assembly process. It is estimated that it built about 30% of the iPhone 6 orders in its Chinese plants.
As you can see, the answer to the question of where the iPhone is made isn’t simple. It can boil down to China since that’s where all the components are assembled and the final, working devices come from, but it’s actually a complex, nuanced worldwide effort to manufacture all the parts that go into making an iPhone.