Apple’s A5 chip is made by Samsung of Korea. Foxconn of China assembled the iPhone in the mainland and in its Taiwan factory. In short, iPhone is not made by U.S. It’s a China phone with South Korean brain. Though, it’s design by Apple in Palo Alto, California.
Apple becomes the raison d’etre (reason for existence) of several semiconductor companies as it engages in sourcing process of its major components.
To prove this, several tech-sites published an “iPhone teardown” articles like this one from iFixit that reveal the labeled parts and components of an iPhone unit showing various manufacturers.
It's very clear in the label of this teared-down iPhone4 that the unit is assembled in China.
Some of the major parts of iPhone are either constructed by other manufacturers based on Apple’s design or an existing device made by genuine part makers. Apple is not alone on this practice. You can see components made by competing brands in some appliances like a Toshiba battery pack in other brands of laptops.
The front glass panel of the iPhone is made of Gorilla Glass by Corning. The glass is said to be 20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic. Corning Incorporated is the world leader in specialty glass and ceramics. The LED backlit TFT LCD capacitive touchscreen of iPhone4 is manufactured by LG--another mobile phone manufacturer based in South Korea.
The A4 & A5 processor chips in iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s respectively are manufactured by Samsung of South Korea. However, A5 chips are already manufactured in a newly-built 1.6 million square feet facility in Austin, Texas. The facility is constructed at $3.6 billion cost and has been in full production since early December. The Dual-Core A5 chip was first used in iPad2. Its design is licensed by Apple from ARM Holdings of Britain.
This module includes the audio codec provided by Cirrus Logic which is branded as Apple. Also includes the Samsung flash memory and the touch screen controller by Texas Instruments.
The Wifi, bluetooth and GPS are all provided by Broadcom. The Wifi and bluetooth has included the FM tuner in the single chip.
OmniVision Technologies Inc supplied the camera imaging sensor of iPhone 4 but lost its bid for the part to Japanese maker Sony for the iPhone 4s 8Mp camera.
The intelligent personal assistant SIRI integrated in iOS5 started as an application available in the App Store but acquired by Apple last year preventing its use by other platforms like Blackberry and Android-powered phones. SIRI was owned by SRI International.
Again, here’s a summary of the part-makers for iPhone:
- Samsung (A5 chip, flash memory)
- ARM Holdings (A5 design license)
- LG (LCD screen)
- Texas Instruments (touch screen controller)
- Corning Inc. (Gorilla Glass)
- Sony (8Mp camera)
- Omnivision Technologies (5Mp camera of iPhone 4)
- SRI International (SIRI)
- Broadcom (Wifi, Bluetooth, FM, GPS)
- Cirrus Logic (audio codec)
- Skyworks (RF radio)
- StMicro (accelerometer)
To top it all and has been given prominence is Foxconn of China that assembles and delivers the finished iPhone units to Palo Alto. Foxconn has been involved in controversies alleging employees mistreatment and suicides. But this does not prevent the company from getting big customers because of its cheap labor without sacrificing quality.
If we think China phones as inferior. Think it again because the famous brands are made by Foxconn. Lately Lenovo has been introducing China phones using Taiwan’s MediaTek (MTK) platform and marketed the units as quality phones.
Lenovo Dual-SIM phone with MTK chips.