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.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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