Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007, and since then the iconic smartphone has sold over 700 million units around the world.
This best-selling handset sets the standard for smartphone performance and features. However, the iPhone would not be possible without the extraordinary raw materials that line the insides of the case.
The iPhone’s screen is much more complex than it may seem. The aluminosilicate glass is bombarded with ions of potassium for strength. Meanwhile, a layer of indium tin oxide makes it touchscreen capable, and small amounts of rare earths enables certain colors on the display.
The iPhone uses lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2) chemistry in its cathode, with 60% of it being made from cobalt. It also uses a graphite anode and aluminum casing.
Processor Chip: The phone’s processor is mainly made from silicon, but it is bombarded by various elements such as phosphorus, antimony, arsenic, boron, indium, and gallium to give it superior electrical properties.
Micro-Electrical: Copper, gold, silver, and tungsten are used for electrical connections within the phone. Which metal is chosen depends on the need. For example, while silver is the most conductive metal, gold never tarnishes.
Micro-capacitors: regulate electricity flow Apple managed to guarantee it only used conflict-free tantalum in February 2014.
Soldering: Tin, copper, and silver.
Sound and Vibration
Speakers and Headphones: To get lots of sound from a small place, high-powered neodymium magnets are used. They are made from neodymium, iron, and boron, and sometimes also containing smaller amounts of other rare earths.
The same magnets also power the phone’s vibration function.
Aluminum: The iPhone’s case uses aerospace-grade aluminum with an anodized outside layer for extra protection. This layer is just five micrometers thick, thinner than paint.
Sapphire glass: This synthetic material covering the lens rates a 9 on Moh’s hardness scale, making it nearly as hard as a diamond.
Of the 83 stable and non-radioactive elements in the periodic table, a total of 62 different types of metals go into the average mobile handset.
In 2013, academics at Yale University looked at these metals and metalloids inside smartphones, and rated their possible replacements. They concluded that 12 of these materials effectively had no replacements at all.