From Part to Product: How Your Smartphone Gets Made

Have you ever looked down at your phone, laptop, or smartwatch and think how did this get to me? If you have, then you are not the only one. Many people have, at some point, found themselves wondering how this hugely sophisticated piece of technology was created. This guide is here to answer your questions by taking you through the manufacturing process step by step. This guide will focus on the most common piece of technology that is used across the world today, a smartphone.

Conception

The first step to creating a smartphone starts not in a factory but in an office. Designers and technology experts meet to design the fine details of the product they intend to create. The design and conception process requires individuals to agree on details such as the look, feel, and design of the phone, this is something that can take a long time to decide on. Once this step is completed, the manufacturing process can begin.

Finding the Right Parts

The first practical step to creating a smartphone starts with finding the right materials. Traditionally, electronics manufacturers are limited by the availability of materials, but in the modern world, this is no longer the case. Electronics manufacturers can now use industry-specific search engines like Octopart to find and compare materials. There are many different types of materials used in smartphones, from glass to liquid crystals. It is vitally important the right materials are found to ensure the highest quality product is created.

Creating a Prototype

Once the design has been agreed upon and the best parts have been located, companies do not just jump straight into mass production. Another process then starts: the creation of the prototype.

The purpose of creating a prototype is to manifest all the ideas that were introduced in the design of the smartphone. This prototype is not used so much to test the function of the smartphone but rather its aesthetics, feel and design. The prototype will have to pass a range of different tests before any further action can be taken. Once this phone has been given the green light by all the relevant individuals, the production process can begin.

Internal Features

Once the external design of the phone has been agreed upon, it is time to get to work creating the internal workings of the phone. Electronics experts will begin working on the internal features of the device. This can include the processor, memory, camera, and speaker of the smartphone. The electronic experts that are working in this process will have already been supplied with detailed information regarding the specs of the internal features, so they simply need to execute these plans.

Once this step has been finished, the prototype of the smartphone will, once again, be returned for tests. A new model must be tested after the completion of every step. If issues are not caught and resolved early on, companies can end up losing a great deal of money, not to mention wasted time and resources.

Software Installation

Once all of the phone’s hardware features have been decided upon, the teams involved can now move onto installing the software. Experts will load the operating system onto the phone, and this software will have been chosen by experts and designers a long time ago. Electronic experts work tirelessly to ensure that the software integrates perfectly with the hardware of the phone.

Once the software has been installed, the phone will once again return to be tested. The smartphone will undergo a series of rigorous tests to ensure that everything is functioning as expected. However, it is not only the software that is tested at this point; since this is the last step before mass production, the entire phone has to undergo a series of detailed tests that range through testing the functionality, design, software, and resistance of the phone. Experts will drop the phone, submerge it in water and even smash it with a hammer to test its hardiness. Only when all of these tests have been passed to a high standard, is the phone allowed to start being mass-produced.

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Mass Production

Once a smartphone has passed all of the necessary tests, it is ready to start being mass-produced. The parts needed to make the phone are sourced and sent to the relevant manufacturing facility. Usually, this manufacturing facility is overseas, which is because countries like India and China have fewer regulations and lower-wage requirements. That means that businesses can get their products produced far cheaper than if they were to be made in-house.

Depending on the company, the smartphone can either be created completely at a central manufacturing facility, or some parts of the process will be outsourced. Original equipment manufacturers are often used to create specific components used for the phone. These components will then be shipped to the manufacturing facility to be added to the smartphone later in the production process.

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Marketing Time

As the first batch of products reaches the end of the production process, companies will begin their marketing campaign. Once they have a set date that they can expect to launch their new model of smartphones, they will begin to try and garner excitement over the new product launch. While the marketing process may only just have been launched to the public it does not mean to say that it was conceived this late in production. Marketing teams have likely been working on the campaign for months since the model was first conceived and the first prototype created.

Packaging and Shipping

Once the handsets have been mass-produced, they are ready to be packaged into a box with other equipment like a charger or a set of headphones. Once this step is complete, they will enter the last phase of the production journey, shipping. The packaged smartphones are then shipped to various locations across the globe. These phones are all packaged and ready to be stocked in shops and sold to consumers.

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