The report on working conditions at Chinese iPhone manufacturer Pegatron appears to confirm that the low-cost iPhone does indeed exist, is plastic and is not yet in mass production.

The introduction to the report (PDF), which provides a background to Pegatron, contains this statement:

Its assembled products include iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, and low-priced plastic iPhones

A day-in-the-life report on page 27 of the report states:

Today’s work is to paste protective film on the iPhone’s plastic back cover to prevent it from being scratched on assembly lines … 

The report goes on to say:

The new cell phone has not yet been put into mass production, so quantity is not as important. This makes our job more slow paced than in departments that have begun mass production schedules.

While the numerous leaked photos and even video have made it pretty certain the rumors were true, there always remains the possibility that we were actually looking at knock-offs created by other companies based on nothing more than their belief about what the real thing might look like. The more rumored casings that appeared, the more convincing the rumor and the more incentive to make copies – so such things can often become self-perpetuating.

But this report does add a great deal of weight. China Labor Watch is a respected non-profit that has been operating for 13 years with offices in New York as well as China. Day-in-the-life pieces are often aggregated descriptions based on interviews with a number of different workers, rather than direct quotes from a single individual, but the “today’s work is to paste protective film on the iPhone’s plastic back cover” quote is pretty specific. Coupled with the background quote, we tend to believe that the phone (perhaps to be called the 5C) is indeed plastic.

Pegatron’s Chairman, TH Tung, last month appeared to have confirmed that the phone will be a mid-market one. Japanese site Macotakara reports :

Pegatron held the General Meeting of Shareholders and Chairman TH Tung said “The price is fairly high” about low-priced iPhone.

Late shout out!

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6 Responses to “Low-cost iPhone seemingly confirmed as plastic-bodied and not yet in mass production from Pegatron working conditions report”

  1. Apple would change the design sure shot now! And waste another 2 years or maybe, a year. Like it did with iPhone 4S, when schematics were leaked about a teardrop phone, which we’d be seeing in the form of iPhone 6 next year


  2. jb2017 says:

    I guess the next report will say something like “Former employees get fired for talking about unreleased Apple products.”


  3. Jim Phong says:

    The iPhone 5C .. the plastic iPhone “cheap” $399 model is going to hurt Apple badly. Worse than how the iPad Mini affected sales and actual profit on the iPad.
    Tim Cook really wants to destroy Apple.
    The true iPhone 5 is going to lose its value immediately with the release of an iPhone 5C and the iPhone 5S.
    Only either a real idiot or a competitors spy could come up with the iPhone 5C crap thing.
    Tim Cook must be both.


  4. PMZanetti says:

    Hmm…just had a thought that hasn’t been mentioned as a possibility…

    What if Apple has one strategy for the upcoming iPhone launch. What if the new ploy shell design is for everything…a 5C that is a 4S & 5 at $0 & $99 respectively. And the $199 5S is also a poly shell, but new internals….

    I could only hope.


  5. xmosha says:

    You would think that prior to disclosing this information to the public, China Labor Watch (CLW) would forward there report to Apple and then so called rumored products could be “asked” to be removed from the report. I know there is a much larger picture at hand here, but was it really necessary to mention each iPhone variant, including those that aren’t available? At the end of the day, those few lines of text in the report will inevitably overshadow the bigger issue at hand. Just seems pointless and slightly vindictive knowing that the CLW have nothing to lose by disclosing that information. I could be over thinking the issue, but might be cause for discussion.

    On a brighter note, I’m genuinely excited about this, although I said I could never look back at plastic phone again (upgrading from 3G to 4) I’m hoping the fit and finish will be just as good as Nokia’s current smartphone line.

    I’ve bought every new evolution of the iPhone (No “S” variant), except for the iPhone 5, so I’m hoping this will be enticing and exciting enough for me to pick up outright this year and switch to what I’d presume will be the iPhone 6 next year. I guess I more or less curious what the iPhone 5 as is will fair in the resale market if rumors suggest that the “cheaper” variant will have the same internals.


    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      Although one could say the apparent confirmation overshadows the employment conditions, it could also have been said to have ensured a larger audience for the report. In practice, though, we ran the report in its own right first, and it seems Apple were on the case immediately, so I’d agree nothing has been achieved. I’m not sure it was ‘vindictive': it has simply provided further evidence for something already widely assumed to be true.