So I have a rather short question: what would happen if all the gold disappeared from my phone?

Now, I know, most likely it would just stop working. But precisely, what would we see first? Would there be any way to tell apart from just not turning on anymore?

I’m talking about a hand-wavy trickster magic of “poof, I’ve stolen all the gold from your phone, goodbye!”

I know that not all phone parts are pure gold, some are only gold-plated. Maybe they would still function, if very badly?

For the type of phone we can take any modern smartphone, but if you choose to refer to a specific model for the specifics of gold placement, I’m open to suggestion. Preferably one that doesn’t just “not turn on” is better.

Side question: how easy would it be to tell for a repair guy? Let’s assume an iPhone and I bring it in to my local Apple store, now they don’t really break iPhones open but could they quickly tell there’s gold missing? How deep would they have to dig to notice any big chunk missing?


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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure that I see the worldbuilding application to this question. I could see "how would phones be different if my world had no gold" as a real question. But building a phone with gold and then non-destructively removing it seems to require magic...and once you allow magic, then your phone can keep working due to magic as well. Indeed, once you allow magic, you no longer need the phone at all anymore. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Mar 26, 2020 at 3:40
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    $\begingroup$ Ithink this is a question for some technical sites on SE. $\endgroup$ Mar 26, 2020 at 7:34

1 Answer 1


The phone would be plainly dead, with no intermediate state.


Gold is used to make connections.

Each microchip is connected to its base using microscopic gold wires. With gold gone, they are gone. With them gone, each microchip is just a fancily colored piece of silicon, nothing more. (images source)

wires in a microchip

The base is then packed into its box, the box provided with feet/pads, and placed into the case of phone. A clerk in a Apple store might at most reach the box.

phone assy

The only phones to stay operative with gold removed would be the "wheel phones" used until the early 80's, since they had (as far as I know) no gold in it, being entirely electromechanical.

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    $\begingroup$ You are not quite right about gold usage. Gold isn't used even an all most productive microcontrolers, not saying about "common" chips. It means Nokia 3220 might (must? :) ) still work. So it would be a roulette with modern hi-end smartphones being most probable to become a brick, and most simple grandpaphones surviving $\endgroup$
    – ksbes
    Mar 26, 2020 at 6:55
  • $\begingroup$ Lol, grandpaphone. $\endgroup$ Mar 26, 2020 at 12:46

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