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What's inside that brand new Samsung phone?

Bruno Mars performs at the Samsung Experience Shop Best Buy Official Launch Event at Cunard Hall on April 25, 2013 in New York City.

The iPhone is like the Golden Gate Bridge: It hogs attention, but the Bay Bridge to and from Oakland gets used more often. So what's the Bay Bridge in this analogy? The Samsung Galaxy. The latest version, the S4, is just now going on sale in the U.S., and in the last year, Galaxys have been outselling iPhones.

Reviewers, such as CNET’s Jessica Dolcourt, like the phone’s responsiveness and high resolution screen. And for people coming to an Android phone for the first time, there is an "easy" mode.

"Some people come to Android for their first smartphone, they are like, 'look, I want a really good camera, the high end specs really appeal to me, but this Android thing is crazy'," Dolcourt says. "So there is this setting that will simplify everything down, give you three homescreens, make all the icons and text bigger, and basically make it easier to use and get to know."

But consumer products also come with other baggage. Samsung is now admitting that some of the tin in its smartphones is mined on an Indonesian island that has used child labor. The Guardian newspaper and the environmental group Friends of the Earth investigated conditions on Bangka Islandand brought the child labor issue to Samsung's attention. In a letter, Samsung is telling customers that while it doesn't have a direct relationship with its tin suppliers, some of the material does come from the region. It's promising a thorough investigation.

All phones have tin, mostly the solder on circuit boards. It's possible tin mined with child labor is in other brands of phone as well.




About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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