How are Smartphones Made?

Building a Smartphone

Whilst it’s a great feeling when that brand new smartphone makes its way into your pocket after a lengthy wait, we don’t often think of just how much work has been put into our new devices. Whilst it’s definitely a great new gadget for us to play with, how did it really end up on the market?

We take a look at the process of creating a smartphone for general sale, ranging from the idea of the phone right up to when it heads into stores across the planet. So, if you’ve ever been curious about your iPhone or Samsung handset, amongst others, maybe this will offer a good insight into the process!

Making a Smartphone: Conception

Smartphone design is incredibly important!

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This is where all smartphones start their lives, with a team of designers and other company members coming up with what the phone is all about. As you might guess, this is a much easier task for smartphone successors, as they have a previous phone to work off.

New phones will need to build a design from scratch and decide what kind of specs it will offer in advance, whilst also considering materials for its chassis.

This is the most time consuming process of any mobile phone’s creation, with ideas thrown around until a full decision is made. Ideas which are often discussed include the shape, style and look of the smartphone. This is also a major point for the use of the smartphone, with now the time where the decision is made between the way regular people use the phone (i.e. physical keyboard etc.)

Prototype Smartphone

Dummy phones are often built early, and sometimes get leaked...

This is when you’re likely to see the first leaks for any handset, with designers putting together dummy versions of the phone to give it a sense of realism. These version of the phone have no internal kit and are used to measure the aesthetics of a handset rather than performance.

In fact, some dummy models don’t even use the materials that are expected in the final design and are used just to help the company picture the device. The design is then bounced around the company for all to see, with alterations and amendments made to ensure the phone’s design is finalised.

It’s also possible that you’ll see leaked information about possible features here as well, partly because dummy units may show off design features that point to possible uses, like fingerprint scanners or front facing flashes.

Electronic Engineering Mobile Phones

Engineering a phone isn't easy you know!

So, the design of the smartphone has been confirmed and now the handset has been passed onto the electronic buffs in the company for them to work their magic.

Ideas about what kind of technology making the cut will have already been discussed, with mobile engineers tasked with cramming it into the handset. It’s here that we’ll see the likes of the screen and battery appear, along with internal features like the processor and memory.

More interesting leaks about this information will no doubt appear somewhere, giving potential users their first look at the upcoming handset’s capabilities.

This is also where we get a hint at what kind of cameras to expect, with both front and rear lenses making and appearance here. Designers will then look over the phone with the kit installed to see if it hits the mark for them as well.

Software Work

Smartphone software is a big part of the building of a device...

This is when the phone is given life, with the addition of a fully working operating system, which has often been decided well in advance to work hand in hand with the specs.

Developers are tasked with ensuring that the software fits the phone perfectly, and that all of the bugs are ironed out. The manufacturers UI is also worked into the software here, again proving a haven for leaks, as developers will often share pictures of their work which could make their way online.

This takes a fair amount of time to complete, with plenty of different people checking out the system to ensure that it works as expected.

Mobile Testing

All mobile phones get tested during construction.

With the hardware and software included and the design nailed down, the phone is then extensively tested to make sure it’s ready for mass production.

Tests include simple browsing of the phone all the way up to drop and water tests to help confirm just what the smartphone can stand up to on both a physical and software level.

On top of this, all the button placements and antenna performance levels are confirmed after testing to ensure that a smartphone is as good as possible for users. This is the last chance smartphone manufacturers get to make any changes to the design and specs that are included with the device.

Now and then, some problems are missed through the testing phase, with Apple having struggled with antenna issues on previous phones and even the more recent ‘bend-gate’ issue getting passed through the period of testing.

Smartphone Construction

Time to get building!

Time to build the phone on a wider scale! This is when you’re likely to see the most leaks relating to a handset, as multiple factories are involved in the creation of each individual part of the device.

It’s also likely that numerous different factories build different parts of the phone, whilst internal components are also built on a large scale.

This is also one of the most time sensitive parts of a smartphone’s creation, with production problems liable to push back deadlines, especially during the construction of equipment like batteries and screens.

The phones are also assembled in this time, meaning that millions of phones will be put into storage, ready for packaging and shipment.

Smartphone Shipment

Packaging and shipping a phone is the final step!

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The final stage of the smartphone creation is packaging and shipment, where the handset is put into its box and sent across the world to retailers.

This is where manuals and accessories are also thrown in with the phone, and can sometimes be sent ahead of the smartphone’s launch, with a high level of secrecy being forced onto retailers.

Leaks of the packaging can make appearances during this stage as well, practically confirming the design and specs of the phone which are often shown on the box. It’s also here when preview handsets will be sent to media companies and VIPs – also leading to the odd leak.

From here, once the phone is officially released, you can head into stores and buy the phone, capping off the process for good!

So, can you believe that the phone in your pocket went through all of this before hitting the market? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

Written by Luke Hatfield