The Smartphone

Anatomy of an Industry

A brilliant and entertaining exposé of the industry behind one of the world’s most ubiquitous and poorly understood devices

“Everyone is now aware of what’s going on in the world. People are connected all the time. The smartphone is making all that possible.”
—Martin Cooper, former Motorola engineer and father of the cell phone

We think we know everything about our smartphones. We use them constantly. We depend on them for every conceivable purpose. We are familiar with every inch of their compact frames. But there is more to the smartphone than meets the eye.

How have smartphones shaped the way we socialize and interact? Who tracks our actions, our preferences, our movements as recorded by our smartphones? These are just some of the questions that journalist Elizabeth Woyke answers in this muckraking exposé of the $241 billion industry that produces more than 700 million devices each year.

In the tradition of The Coffee Book, The Sneaker Book, Oil, and Cigarettes, The Smartphone offers not only a step-by-step guide to how smartphones are designed and manufactured but also a bold exploration of the darker side of this massive industry, including the exploitation of labor, the disposal of electronic waste, and the underground networks that hack and smuggle smartphones.

Featuring interviews with key figures in the development of the smartphone and expert assessments of the industry’s main players—Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung—The Smartphone is the perfect introduction to this most personal of gadgets. Your smartphone will never look the same again.


“I learned more from Elizabeth Woyke’s The Smartphone than I have from any two or three other books on digital communication I have read in the past few years. A superior reporter, Woyke brilliantly presents a clear-eyed view of this new communication device that has conquered everything in sight. This book is an eye-opener.”
—Robert W. McChesney, author of Digital Disconnect
“Readers who fully absorb the more disturbing details of Woyke’s report will never be able to download a new app or listen to a podcast without a twinge or two of consumer guilt.”
“A well-reported comprehensive overview of the smartphone’s innovators and the challenges surrounding the industry. A deeply worthwhile read for anyone interested in the socioeconomic impact of a device that has become so prevalent in our lives.”
—Yukari Iwatani Kane, author of Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs
“A smartphone full monty that will appeal mostly to the device’s users—all 1.75 billion of them.”
Kirkus Reviews

News and Reviews


A review of The Smartphone in CHOICE

The Sydney Morning Herald

Elizabeth Woyke speaks with The Sydney Morning Herald about smart phone counterfeiting.


A review of The Smartphone in Maclean's

The Brian Lehrer Show

Elizabeth Woyke discusses The Smartphone on The Brian Lehrer Show


Goodreads Reviews