If you're after a new cell phone with less of an environmental or social impact, you might be wondering whether there are any cell phones made in the USA nowadays.
Buying locally and from transparent companies is becoming a priority for more people across a range of purchases, from groceries and clothes to household furniture. Tech is one of those areas where buying local seems downright impossible - nowadays, most devices are at least in part built offshore, often in developing countries.
However, it's not all bad news - there are still some American brands who develop the best smartphones in the US, and some that take pride in having transparent production lines. Read on to find your next tech purchase.
Are any cell phone manufacturers based in the USA?
While very few cell phones are actually made in the USA any more, some key firms are still considered to be American due to their origins. These include all Apple iPhones as well as the Google Pixel range. Both Apple and Google were established in the US and still have their HQs in the Silicon Valley, despite operating globally.
In the past, some manufacturers such as Palm, HP, Compaq, and Dell manufactured American cell phones, but the focus for these companies have shifted to the home computer market.
Are ANY cell phones made in the USA today?
If you're not too interested in the latest and greatest phone, there is one smartphone manufacturer that may appeal to you. American tech company, Librem produces its privacy-focused Linux smartphone, Librem 5, in the USA. It states that 'all the electronics will be made in our USA facility, and the entire phone will be assembled in the US' making it the only American phone manufacturer out there right now.
In part, this is likely to be because it's a smartphone that promises to not track or mine your personal data for sale or for advertising purposes in any way. Being manufactured 'locally' means that consumer confidence can be high with such features. The Librem 5 also has hardware kill switches so you can shut down WiFi, Bluetooth, cellular signal, as well as your microphone or camera, in a permanent manner. It's a specialized smartphone that won't suit everyone but if you're desperate to have a phone that was entirely made in the USA, this is the only option right now. Just don't expect style or the latest features.
In the past, Motorola was one of the few companies that still made cell phones in the USA with the Moto X developed in the country. In 2014 however, Motorola announced plans to shut down its Mobility Factory in Fort Worth, Texas. It moved its production to China and Brazil, ending its 100% USA connections.
Does Apple or Google make phones in the USA?
No. While Apple is considered one of the biggest cell phone manufacturers in the USA, its phones are actually assembled and manufactured in other countries. That's the same story for Google which is an American-based company but one that outsources its manufacturing.
If you've been searching online for a cell phone manufactured in the USA, you may have come across BLU Products. The American company was founded by Samuel Ohev-Zion and was one of the first Latin-owned mobile phone manufacturers aimed at a Latin population.
Its products are present throughout the United States, Latin America, Central America, and all of the Caribbean. Despite that, its phones are predominantly manufactured in Asia but the development of such phones is fundamentally American in nature.
Does it matter if my cell phone is manufactured elsewhere?
Ultimately, not really. Any cell phone you buy from a reputable source in the US will have been manufactured with the country in mind. That means you'll still enjoy a full warranty, parts that are designed with USA standards in mind, along with English language options.
The only real difference is that you'll know the phone has been shipped thousands of miles beforehand. If you're concerned about the ethics and ecological implications of such mileage, this may be a problem but, unfortunately, if you want a new smartphone, it's pretty much your only option at this time. Even if you buy a cell phone from an American company, you can guarantee at least one part will have been produced abroad, and the materials will come from natural resource-rich countries in Africa or South America.
If your worries are more to do with safety, don't be concerned. Your cell phone will have been developed with safety in mind and providing you're buying an official device (and an official charger if one is needed separately), there's absolutely no danger in buying a product manufactured elsewhere.