back to article China Labor Watch gumshoes uncover TOP SECRET PLASTIC IPHONE

The first concrete details of Apple's cheapo plastic iPhone have been inadvertently revealed during a recent labour rights' group probe into alleged worker abuse on Cupertino's Chinese production line. China Labor Watch produced a long document describing the alleged long working weeks of workers at three Pegatron facilities …


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  1. Annihilator
    Paris Hilton

    Plastic iPhone?

    So it's an iPhone 3G/3GS then?

    1. stucs201

      Re: Plastic iPhone?

      Back material does seem to be cyclic:

      Metal first, then plastic for inproved signal, then glass for less scratches, then metal so it doesn't shatter... Plastic was just next in the cycle.

    2. Steve Evans

      Re: Plastic iPhone?

      I wonder which shade of yellow it will go when it gets hot?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Complete nonsense

    Chinese worker's rights, whatever next?!?


    Naff sounding plastic iPhone...

    Are you sure they hadn't wandered into a section making Samsung equipment?

  4. Andrew_b65

    Why does plastic make it 'cheaper'?

    The cost of Apple devices usually has no direct link to the cost of parts and manufacturing, so why would a 'plastic' shell make a new phone model any better value? What we call a cheap phone could be as much as £300 sim-free in the Apple universe.

    Apple would likely hobble a lower cost phone in some way so value in the full-fat models can be maintained.

    1. Robert Forsyth

      Re: Why does plastic make it 'cheaper'?

      No, it only has to look cheaper so you can sell the same thing at two different prices for two different markets, without culling your higher price market.

      Does a lux version of a car really cost twice the base model? Does the size of the engine make much difference to the cost?

      1. miknik

        Re: Why does plastic make it 'cheaper'?

        Does the size of the engine make much difference to the cost?


        The reasons are two fold: you need to uprate the whole drive train, as well as the brake and suspension components; this adds a big chunk to the cost which means fewer people will buy the car with the bigger engine, the R+D costs are still the same as for the smaller engined car though so the manufacturer has to recoup a greater amount per unit sold to cover them, adding another chunk to the price.

        1. Why Not?

          Re: Why does plastic make it 'cheaper'?

          The advertising worked on you then?

          Yes they upgrade the drive chain or more likely down grade it for the cheap one. The Engine is likely the same one they have been making since the eighties and the bigger brake parts are all made by the same sub contractor.

          1. miknik

            Re: Why does plastic make it 'cheaper'?

            "The advertising worked on you then?"

            No, I own a vehicle repair company and have spent 20 years in the automotive repair industry..

            I've stripped enough auto gearboxes and differentials to appreciate the differences between the ones fitted to a 250Nm torque engined car and a 700Nm engined one and I can appreciate that a brake setup involving eight piston calipers and fully floating drilled and vented brake discs (rotors) is more expensive than a solid disc set up with a single piston sliding caliper, no matter who you buy it from. Don't get me started on hydraulic active suspension components and the like...

            My company specialise in Mercedes-Benz, current engine variants were introduced between 2005 and 2008. No European manufacturers use 80s engine tech.

  5. JoeB666

    Speaking of human rights abuses, don't forget Apple's complicity in the Prism program. (In addition to Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Yahoo: b*astards, all.)

    1. Spoonsinger

      Back to your Deepin install troll.



  6. danR2

    Plastic and human wrongs, oh my, Mr. Cook.

    How will you explain this to the coffee and cheesecake at Starbucks, yoga-mat tree-hugger higher income crowd?

    Lenovo, et al. don't infer they are saving the poor, eliminating blood-diamonds, and stopping the nefarious big-oil plot of global warming. Apple does all those things, and more.

    But...plastic? Your base will be terribly upset.

    1. Alistair

      @danR2 -

      You have a point, I have a solution:


      Yes, environmentally friendly BAMBOO Iphone!

      (sorry -- too many late nights fixing things people keep breaking)

      1. PeterM42

        Re: @danR2 - Bamboo Phone

        Already on it -

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Look... an iPhone where the radios actually work; see, you can hold it any way you like and it still has signal.

      In some instances plastic is a more appropriate material.

    3. Robert Grant

      Lenovo, et al. don't infer they are saving the poor, eliminating blood-diamonds, and stopping the nefarious big-oil plot of global warming. Apple does all those things, and more.

      They don't infer who are doing that? And from what?

      1. wowfood

        Argh, I'm having a stroke... OF GENIUS!

        Apple are using more and more gorilla glass in their phones, so much so it reaches the edge of the phone. What about a fully, 100% gorilla glass phone for those who are tech savvy. Visible components, visible everything, You could see every circuit inside the phone. It could open up a new market of nerd chic.

        *Runs off to patent the glass phone / watch / anything else electronic which could be made see through*

        1. Van

          See through tech, that would be so cool. They could use coloured plastic and offer 13 flavours!.

          1. Steven Raith
            Thumb Up

            Lovely idea...but...

            IIRC while Gorilla Glass is tough, it's directionally tough - hence, drop the phone, break the screen.

            Or in this case, drop the phone, break the whole phone.

            That said, I like the idea of a see-through phone made from something suitably tough, just a shame you'd see nowt but screen, battery, and the edge of a logic board these days....

            1. TheOtherHobbes

              Re: Lovely idea...but...

              Machined industrial diamond, obviously.

              It's not like you can get the battery out anyway.

          2. julianh72
            Thumb Up

            ... coloured plastic and offer 13 flavours!.

            Brilliant! They could call it the iiPhone!

    4. Euripides Pants

      "But...plastic? Your base will be terribly upset."

      No, your not thinking this through...

      1. Plastic is derived from oil.

      2. Oil is decomposed dinosaurs.

      3. Dinosaurs are extinct.

      Therefore the new iPhone case is made of extinct animals, seems pretty exclusive to me.

  7. Peter27x

    supprise spot checks

    I wonder how those surprise spot checks by the fruity company work, compared to the checks by China Labour Watch. Might they go like this.

    10am Spot check team turn up

    10:30 After waiting in the lobby of the posh offices attached to the site drinking coffee etc, they meet with the site managed/evil overseer for a detailed/lengthy* discussion about how the spot checks will be conducted

    12:30 Lunch in the management restaurant

    14:00 a leisurely stroll to the factory, to meet the assembly line managers

    14:30 they get their clip boards out and commence the secret surprise spot checks of a random** factory production line

    15:00 Clipboards are put away with lots of green ticks and the previously agreed upon two red "must try harder" crosses.

    17:00 pub

    * delete as appropriate.

    ** as chosen by the site overloads at 10:05 and cleaned up in the hours since

    1. wowfood

      Re: supprise spot checks

      So just like the surprise health and safety checks in food services then.

      Day before inspection. *You're going to have a surprise inspection at some point tommorow*

      Emergency staffer called in to help clean the kitchen / washup area. Throw away all the out of date food, make sure stock is correctly rotated, pull out oven / fridge etc to clean behind / beneath them

      Next day kitchen etc is spotless

      Surprise inspector turns up, how surprising!

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: supprise spot checks

      That's how the immigration raids here in the U.S. are done. Someone informs the plant of the scheduled date and no illegal immigrants show up for work that day. The only people who get in trouble are those who weren't willing to play the game.

      I suspect the Pegatron facilities inspections are no different.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One thing I find interesting is most of these companies Foxconn Pegatron etc are Taiwanese companies.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      re: taiwanese

      That's because china is a big bad evil communist country and so until recently it was difficult for US companies, that relied on the smiling benevolence of the military-industrial complex, to do a lot of business there. It was also tricky to export advanced semiconductor equipment there despite putting a note in the manual saying "not to be used to build nuclear weapons to point at us"

      Taiwan as a beacon of enlightened capitalist freedom was rather easier to do business with, and if the work was actually done in china nobody cared as long as the god fearing consumer never found out

      Now that China and Russia are friendly (albeit with nukes pointed at us) partners in the war on terror it's all ok.

  9. Javapapa

    One word of advice, Benjamin...


  10. Joe Gurman

    I know it doesn't toe the company line...

    ....but I wonder if the Reg is going to cover this report:

    as well as ballyhooing all the earlier reports of doom for the iPhone.

  11. Sureo

    "The new phone is apparently in the prototype stage..."

    God help the workers when it gets into production.

  12. returnmyjedi

    Made in China?

    But I thought the iThings were supposed to represent all that was good about Cal-ee-forn-eye-yay? Y'know, apart from the gun crime and massive poverty gap.

  13. Johan Bastiaansen

    15 audits since 2007

    "Apple responded to the allegations in a lengthy statement. It said it had carried out 15 audits at Pegatron's facilities since 2007, looking at the working conditions of more than 130,000 staff. These inspections included surprise visits and spot checks, said the fruity firm."

    Wow 15 audits in 6.5 years, that's nearly 1 audit every 5 months. Some of them surprise visits and spot checks even ! ! ! What more could they have done?

    For more than 130,000 staff. I bet the workers are pointing out their mates who actually saw any of the auditors. Some of them claim they "know a guy" who shook hands with one of the auditors. No time for conversation though. Or a photograph.

  14. Ace Rimmer


    A cheap, plastic imitation of the real thing.

    Or Tim Cook as he's better known.

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