Low-Cost Plastic iPhone Outed in Labor Report

Published on July 29, 2013
by John Paczkowski

Apple hasn’t yet announced a low-cost iPhone, let alone plans to build one. But the company is indeed working on one, according to a new report from a human-rights group that recently infiltrated a factory operated by one of its manufacturing partners.

In documenting alleged labor abuses at Pegatron, human rights watchdog group China Labor Watch stumbled across a “scaled-back, less expensive version of the iPhone.”

“Today’s work is to paste protective film on the iPhone’s plastic back cover to prevent it from being scratched on assembly lines,” an excerpt from CLW’s report reads. “This iPhone model with a plastic cover will soon be released on the market by Apple. The new cellphone has not yet been put into mass production, so quantity is not as important.”

The report — which accuses Pegatron of violating international labor laws as well as Apple’s own standards — is the closest we have yet to solid confirmation of Apple’s long-rumored plans to build a polycarbonate version of the iPhone targeted at the mid-to-lower end of the smartphone market.

With the high end of the smartphone market growing increasingly more saturated, it behooves Apple to begin more aggressively targeting the market’s lower reaches — particularly its middle. There’s a lot of room for growth there and, as we’ve pointed out before, Apple could do quite well with an iPhone priced low enough to draw budget-conscious consumers and first-time smartphone buyers into a higher price range.

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