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Ask HN: Are there any smart phones not made in Asia?
27 points by Something1234 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 29 comments
I just looked at a few articles about phones not made in China, and most of them list Tiawan or another Chinese controlled territory. With the ban on zte and similar companies for federal positions, this seems like an issue of national security.

You're going to very hard pressed to build a phone outside of Asia, and even more so without Asian components.

Fabrication of the case and battery are doable outside of Asia, although to get a phone shaped battery, you might need to roll your own. I know of no major manufacturer outside of Asia. Case can be cnc'd just about anywhere.

Board is going to be difficult, but easier. AllPCB can probably take care of the high layer count board, but it's not going to be cheap.

Screens are going to be a bigger issue than battery. I know of no modern phone sized screen manufacturers outside of asia that could make a 1080P screen in bulk. That's not something that would be easy to roll yourself either.

Chips are going to be, by far, the most difficult part. If you're willing to call the Philippines part of Oceania, it's a bit easier, but not much. Even if you can get a CPU, ram and flash storage chips made outside Asia (big if), all your small passives are made in China and basically nowhere else.

This is ignoring assembly, cameras, coatings, etc.

Basically, any phone you buy is going to be majority Asian manufactured. Even if you wanted to make a phone domestically, I doubt you could make anything that competes with Chinese products. I'm not sure what the wording on the ban is, so this might not be as drastic as I think.

> You're going to very hard pressed to build a phone outside of Asia, and even more so without Asian components.

Interestingly, this has only been true since 2012, after Nokia closed its factories in Finland, Hungary, and Mexico[1].

[1] https://www.theverge.com/2012/2/8/2784183/nokia-device-assem...

Even still, that was (looks like) assembly work -- they moved explicitly to be closer to the part suppliers.

> Case can be cnc'd just about anywhere.

High-end injection molding is a speciality of many in Europe, so that's really not going to be a problem.

Supply chain security is a known problem with mitigations. Don’t think all these billion dollar companies haven’t thought about the issue of having a third party implement their designs. Just like with software security, there’s no perfect solution but it’s highly unlikely China can easily bug devices sold in America without being detected. With software, you have cryptography to protect you. With hardware, you can buy chips not designed in China (which afaik is most chips). Even if the chip is manufactured in China, it’s not trivial to add in backdoor logic and have the design still work and not detectable by the designers (fabs are handed the equalivant of object code, not the source code).

All that aside I find issue with the thesis of your question. Assuming the Taiwan, South Korea, Japan are the same as China is naive at best and racist at worst. So asking about “phones not made in Asia” is meaningless (not to mention Asia also includes India, etc). Even if read by the spirit of the question and not the word of it, it feels very anti-globalist and protectionalistic which itself is not an issue but instead of repeating arguments against it, I’ll just refer you to the body of literature about the whole debate.

I think that you are being a little naive.

I've encountered counterfeit parts several times with OEM equipment. Storage, memory and NICs in particular. If you care about this issue, I think it's reasonable to be cautious about the provenance parts in general, as sub-components may be ultimately sourced by China or on the general market, depending on the product.

Calling that racist is a little much -- understanding your supply chain is meaningful in many scenarios. There are vendors who audit samples of products for supply chain integrity, and they do find issues.

Both made in Germany


https://www.gigaset.com/hq_en/gigaset-gs185/ (used to belong to Siemens I think)

Shiftphone is German but they use Asian components. For example the CPU of their phone on the homepage is made by Mediatek, from Taiwan.

At the risk of stating the obvious, Taiwan is not Chinese-controlled territory.

Still in Asia, but I know at least some Samsung devices are made in Korea.

OP might have consulted a Chinese issued map :)

Supposedly, about a third of Samsung phones are produced in Vietnam https://e27.co/1-3-samsung-phones-made-vietnam-20150513/.

Some googling shows me that Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan and India have significant share of smartphones produced (one example https://www.androidauthority.com/where-smartphones-are-made-...).

Of course Taiwan is Chinese controlled — it's the Republic of China. It's just not controlled by the People's Republic of China or the Communist Party of China.

In the industrial rugged smartphone/tablet segment (eg. Symbol/Motorola/Zebra, Honeywell, Panasonic) you can probably find android-powered devices that are assembled in Europe, US or Japan.

This question sounds so silly I wonder if it's a strawman argument.

Can you have any advanced device that doesn't contain anything made by 50% of humanity? no.

This comment is sent to you from Asia and 7000km away from Beijing.

Can you have any advanced device that doesn't contain anything made by 50% of humanity? no.

Maybe for small consumer goods. Would be interesting to know the component sources for a Tesla car, or a military jet.

The Chinese phone manufacturer Transsion sells the most phones in Africa and has started or is starting to build factories in Africa.


Gigaset has non-negligible amounts of assembly in Germany, though obviously most parts are far-east. E.g. Gigaset GS185.

It's whole ecosystem, not just phone companies. Like colleges have specialised courses, constant new talent pool, government incentives, rawmaterial etc. Know any other country that can invest trillion+ dollars over couple of decade outside Asia to beat this ?

Apple manufacturers iPhone SE’s sold in India, in India.

* assembles.

Fairphone is assembled in China and most if not all its components are manufactured in China.

Doesn't fit the not-made-in-Asia request, but does anyone use one of these?

Made in China.

What difference does this actually make though?

“China” (you say Asia but presumably you don’t mean that) is not a monolith.

Soon, Apple.

lee99 10 months ago [flagged]

Maybe the question is because the person doesn't want to buy a phone made in a sweatshop, (foxcon,Shenzhen )or by a company abusing child labor. As is a common practice in Asia.

The P.C. judgmental attitude shows you have been brainwashed. Racist ? Anyone living in China knows about the abuse etc. It is common knowledge. Apple suppliers are among the most abusive. Whenever I hear an Apple spokesperson deny knowledge of this my immediate thought is a...delusional b..ignorant. The majority of major phone brands are also complicit. You don't need any (guanxi) to find the truth. Please stop judging comments as politically correct or not. Discard your p.c. brainwashing and come to Asia. You might be surprised at what you learn. BTW my company is in Hong Kong and mainland China. In case you were wondering.

On HN, you can't post personal attacks or otherwise be uncivil. If you'd please read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and follow the rules when posting here, we'd appreciate it.

lee9 10 months ago [flagged]

I see. So the post calling the question Racist and demeaning was not an attack on the individual asking the question. Thanks for clearing that up.

I'm not sure what you're referring to, but if another comment broke the rules, that doesn't make it ok for you to break them as well.

We don't come close to seeing all the comments on HN, so it's impossible to moderate perfectly, or even consistently. We do as much as we can.

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