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About the book
  • Published: 30 July 2018
  • ISBN: 9780552173742
  • Imprint: Corgi
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 496
  • RRP: $30.00

The One Device

The Secret History of the iPhone


Formats & editions


SHORTLISTED FOR THE FT & MCKINSEY BUSINESS BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD 2017

The secret history of the invention that changed everything and became the most profitable product in the world.
Odds are that as you read this, an iPhone is within reach. But before Steve Jobs introduced us to 'the one device', as he called it, a mobile phone was merely what you used to make calls on the go.

How did the iPhone transform our world and turn Apple into the most valuable company ever? Veteran technology journalist Brian Merchant reveals the inside story you won't hear from Cupertino - based on his exclusive interviews with the engineers, inventors and developers who guided every stage of the iPhone's creation.

This deep dive takes you from inside 1 Infinite Loop to nineteenth-century France to WWII America, from the driest place on earth to a Kenyan pit of toxic e-waste, and even deep inside Shenzhen's notorious 'suicide factories'. It's a first-hand look at how the cutting-edge tech that makes the world work - touch screens, motion trackers and even AI - made its way into our pockets.

The One Device is a road map for design and engineering genius, an anthropology of the modern age and an unprecedented view into one of the most secretive companies in history. This is the untold account, ten years in the making, of the device that changed everything.

  • Pub date: 30 July 2018
  • ISBN: 9780552173742
  • Imprint: Corgi
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 496
  • RRP: $30.00

About the Author

Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant is an editor at Motherboard, VICE's science and technology outlet, the founder/editor of its online fiction outlet Terraform, and his work has appeared in the Guardian, Slate, VICE Magazine, Salon, FastCompany, Discovery, GOOD, Paste and Grist as well as on the front pages of Reddit, Digg and Slashdot.


Praise for The One Device

“A road map for design and engineering genius, an anthropology of the modern age and an unprecedented view into one of the most secretive companies in history.”

Financial Times

“Merchant tells a far richer story than I — having covered Apple for years as a journalist — have seen before.”

Lev Grossman, New York Times

“The best account of the contemporary world’s single greatest technological miracle.”

Bloomberg, Must Reads of 2017

“Brian Merchant is a lovely writer... formidable... fascinating.”

Hugo Rifkind, The Times

“A remarkable tale... the story it tells is compelling, even addictive - almost as addictive as the iPhone itself”

The Wall Street Journal

“Delivers its quota of compelling anecdotes... Merchant's investigations have great depth... I have no doubt this book will fly off the shelves.”

Evening Standard

“A deep dive into the decisions and breakthroughs behind the development of the historic smartphone.”

Business Insider, Best Business Books of 2017

“Brian Merchant’s The One Device dives deep into the making of Apple’s iPhone on its 10th anniversary, and [analyses] the implications of this worldchanging innovation.”

Andrew Hill, FT Business Book of the Year 2017

“Apple's culture of reverence and secrecy is no match for Brian Merchant in The One Device.”

New York Times Book Review

“In terms of breath and depth of research, The One Device is impressive.”

Irish Times

“A wild ride”

San Francisco Chronicle

“The One Device is a tour de force. Brian Merchant has dug into the iPhone like no other reporter before him, travelling the world to find the untold stories behind the device’s creation and to uncover the very real human costs that come with making the iPhone. Packed with vivid detail, the book carries the reader from one unexpected revelation to the next with a fast-paced edge and heaps of analytical insight.”

Ashlee Vance, New York Times bestselling author of Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

“This is a stunning book—a comprehensive, fascinating, and compulsively engaging account of how the most revolutionary product of our age was invented. Brian Merchant sets off on a journey around the globe, from design studios in California to mines in South America to factories in China, to tell the human stories—the ruined marriages, the lost lives—behind this iconic device. You will never look at your iPhone the same way again.”

Dan Lyons, author of Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble

“Brian Merchant has written a fascinating biography of the iPhone, the most important single product ever created. If you’ve ever looked at the glowing screen in your hand and wondered where the hell it came from, this book provides rich, unexpected, and unusually sophisticated answers.”

Alexis Madrigal, author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology

“Compressing decades of competitive invention and behind-the-screen intrigue, Brian Merchant looks deep into the black mirror of the iPhone to tell us the prehistory—and cultural future—of Apple’s addictive device. This is the true science fiction of our time: how everyday experience was reinvented by a gadget.”

Geoff Manaugh, New York Times bestselling author of A Burglar’s Guide to the City

“Apple's culture of reverence and secrecy is no match for Brian Merchant in The One Device.”

New York Times Book Review

“A wild ride.”

San Francisco Chronicle