An Inside Look at How iPads Are Assembled and Tested

Rob Schmitz of public radio show Marketplace played a key role in debunking a number of Mike Daisey's claims about his trip to China to see working conditions at Apple's manufacturing partner Foxconn. As part of his investigation, Schmitz tracked down Daisey's translator and learned that a number of the experiences Daisey related as part of his "The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" theater monologue never happened.

ipad assembly foxconn
Foxconn workers assembling iPads (Rob Schmitz/Marketplace)

Following his exposure of Daisey's fabrications, Schmitz has been given access to Foxconn's plants, and he has been filing some reports about what he has seen in those facilities. Among the most interesting contributions is a brief video posted yesterday showing for the first time several of the steps in assembling and testing an iPad.


Marketplace has aired a number of segments interviewing Schmitz about his visits to Foxconn's plants, where has described working conditions and talked with workers about their experiences. Many note that the work is boring and repetitive and that they are sometimes treated like machines, but most seem to acknowledge that Foxconn offers better opportunities than many of the other factories.

Top Rated Comments

imgonephishin Avatar
116 months ago
Interesting analysis and I think it's so important to compare apples to apples (wages at Foxconn vs. other Chinese factories). Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) is an important concept that a simple number like "$14/day" just can't capture.

The biggest thing that surprises me is that almost every article about Foxconn fails to mention that Apple is just one of dozens of major companies that contracts with Foxconn. I recognize Apple is the biggest and with being the big dog comes a lot of scrutiny and attention, but how about some attention for any of these companies? A huge number of non-Apple consumer electronics that we use on a daily basis are manufactured there. Every heard of these prominent Foxconn customers?

* Acer
* Amazon.com
* Cisco
* Dell
* Hewlett-Packard
* Intel
* Microsoft
* Motorola Mobility
* Nintendo
* Nokia
* Samsung Electronics
* Sony
* Toshiba
* Vizio
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
erann Avatar
116 months ago
Many note that the work is boring and repetitive and that they are sometimes treated like machines

What's the news here? I have worked in factories in Scandinavia and the work was boring and repetetive and workes were constantly treated like machines. That's what factory work is everywhere. And compared to the cost of living, the salary was exactly the same the Foxconn workers have.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Stouver Avatar
116 months ago
Is it more shocking they only make 14 dollars a day or that 14 dollars a day is actually concidered a good wage for Asian factory workers?

Whether it is right or wrong is one thing but it shouldn't be compared to the "American Way"
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
notabadname Avatar
116 months ago
Value of money

People always make incorrect blanket statements about Chinese salaries though. I doubt many people on this site have been to China, where the average meal can easily be had for the equivalent $1 at local restaurants. There are plenty of jobs in the US that make relatively the same, with lesser working conditions. A min-wage US worker is no more able to afford meals and housing and healthcare than a worker in China.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Caliber26 Avatar
116 months ago
Anytime I hear about the sacrifices some of these people make, just to earn a few bucks a day, it makes me realize how much I take for granted and that I live a very blessed life. It also makes me appreciate my iPad in a whole different way.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Robin4 Avatar
116 months ago
What I would like to know is their standard of living expenses. If the average monthly rent is $50.00/mo, then $14.00 a day may be a decent rate of pay.

We don't know enough to assume it is exploitation.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

microsoft edge ios android

Bill Gates Says His Preference for Android Over iPhone is Due to Pre-Installed Software

Friday February 26, 2021 3:35 am PST by
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates this week participated in his first meeting on Clubhouse, the increasingly popular invite-only conversation app, where he fielded a range of questions as part of an ongoing book tour. Gates was interviewed by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, and given that the Clubhouse app is currently only available on iOS, naturally one of the questions that came up was...
First Look Big Sur Feature2

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks

Thursday February 25, 2021 10:07 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2, the fourth update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November. macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 comes two weeks after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, a bug fix update. The new ‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.2.2‌ update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences....
flat mbp 14 inch feature yellow

Redesigned 14-Inch MacBook Pro Expected to Feature Brighter Mini-LED Display With Slimmer Bezels and More

Thursday February 25, 2021 7:48 am PST by
Apple plans to unveil new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with Mini-LED-backlit displays in the second half of this year, according to industry sources cited by Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report claims that Radiant Opto-Electronics will be the exclusive supplier of the Mini-LED backlight units, while Quanta Computer is said to be tasked with final assembly of the...
Top Stories 47 Feature copy

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, and AirPods Rumors, macOS 11.2.2, MagSafe Wallet Revisited

Saturday February 27, 2021 6:00 am PST by
March is right around the corner, and that means our first good opportunity for Apple product launches in 2021 as the company frequently has significant launches in March or April each year. We're hearing rumors about MacBook Pro, iMac, AirPods, and more, although many of these will be coming out at different times over the course of the year. This week also saw a macOS update to address a ...
maxresdefault

HomeKit Essentials Worth Checking Out

Saturday February 27, 2021 7:05 am PST by
HomeKit was slow to take off after its 2014 launch, but now that it's been around for seven years, there are hundreds of HomeKit products available, ranging from doorbells and speakers to TVs, lights, and cameras. In our latest YouTube video, we rounded up some of our favorite HomeKit products that we find most useful. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. HomePod...
apple store macarthur center

Apple Store at MacArthur Center in Virginia Permanently Closing Following Years of Safety Issues at Shopping Mall

Thursday February 25, 2021 4:45 pm PST by
Apple today indicated that its retail store at the MacArthur Center shopping mall in Norfolk, Virginia will be permanently closing after over 14 years of business, although an exact closure date has yet to be announced by the company. Apple has assured that it will be offering all employees at the store other positions within Apple, and said that it looks forward to continuing to serve...
jon prosser imac 2021colors

Prosser: 2021 iMac to Come in Five Colors, Apple Silicon Mac Pro to Resemble 'Stacked' Mac Minis

Wednesday February 24, 2021 7:26 am PST by
Hit-and-miss leaker Jon Prosser has today alleged that the upcoming 2021 iMac models will offer five color options, mirroring the colors of the fourth-generation iPad Air, and revealed a number of additional details about the Mac Pro with Apple Silicon. In a new video on YouTube channel FrontPageTech, Prosser explained that the redesigned iMacs will come featuring options for Silver, Space ...
apple refurbished m1 mac mini

Apple Begins Selling Refurbished M1 Mac Mini

Thursday February 25, 2021 6:42 pm PST by
Apple today began selling certified refurbished Mac mini models with the M1 chip for the first time in the United States and Canada, with prices discounted by approximately 15 percent compared to brand new models as usual. For example, a refurbished Mac mini with the M1 chip, 256GB of SSD storage, and 16GB of unified memory is available for $759, compared to $899 brand new. Other custom...
mac mini developer transition kit photo feature

Apple Requiring Developers to Return DTK Mac Minis by March 31

Friday February 26, 2021 3:57 pm PST by
Apple today sent out emails to developers who are in possession of a Developer Transition Kit, asking them to return the machines by March 31. The Developer Transition Kits are Mac minis with A12Z chips that Apple provided for development purposes ahead of the release of the M1 Macs. Apple in the emails provided developers with shipping instructions, and plans to begin collecting the DTKs...
m1 mac mini

M1 Mac Users Report Excessive SSD Wear

Tuesday February 23, 2021 7:07 am PST by
Over the past week, some M1 Mac users have been reporting alarming SSD health readings, suggesting that these devices are writing extraordinary amounts of data to their drives (via iMore). Across Twitter and the MacRumors forums, users are reporting that M1 Macs are experiencing extremely high drive writes over a short space of time. In what appear to be the most severe cases, M1 Macs are sai...