A former iPhone factory worker explains why he thinks iPhones will never be made in the United States

NYU grad student Dejian Zeng spent 6 weeks working undercover at a Pegatron iPhone factory in China as part of his summer project. One of his takeaways from the experience was that the iPhone will likely never be made in a US factory. Here’s why.

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Following is a transcript of the video:

I don’t think any kind of labour intensive factories can be relocated to the US.

It’s just because the wages are just too low. You are paying 2,320 yuan to Chinese workers, which is about $US400. How are you going to pay [that] in terms of base salary? Base salary to American workers?

Even if the factories are relocated in the US, ask a lot of the work will be replaced by machines. Because I do see a lot of work, for example, in my station, just putting one screw on the housing, can actually be done by a machine.

Why people are still doing it using laborers in China is just because the wages are too low. The cost for labour is much lower than the cost for the machines.

There are some stations that are actually done by robots. When I was working on another station called “camera coiling to housing,” the station above me is a station that puts the camera into the accurate spot of the housing. And it’s actually done by machine. And there are other stations, for example, putting batteries on the housing. They’re all done by machines already.

I don’t think workers think that much whether their job is going to be replaced by machines. A lot of workers, the only things they care about is whether they can make enough money to support their family, to support themselves.


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