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Nexus One teardown reveals few surprises

Posted: 13 Jan 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Nexus One teardown? processor? AMOLED? NAND flash?

Nexus One smart phone features chips from Qualcomm, Synaptics and Samsung Electronics, among others. (Click on image to view teardown.)

A teardown analysis by iSuppli estimated Google Inc.'s Nexus One smart phone's BOM cost at $174.15, featuring chips from Qualcomm Inc., Synaptics Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, among others.

The Nexus One, sold with the Google brand name but manufactured by HTC Corp., incorporates many of the latest smart phone innovations in a single product that manages to be both cutting edge and cost competitive, according to iSuppli. The product was introduced with great fanfare at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The Nexus One teardown revealed very few surprises, according to Paul McWilliams, an analyst with Next Inning Technology Research. It was already well known that the handset was based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 1GHz processor, which Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs noted in his keynote address at CES, McWilliams said. Other things were also well known prior to the teardown, McWilliams said, including the fact that the handset includes 4Gbyte of NAND flash in a microSD card (supplied by Samsung).

iSuppli's preliminary BOM estimate of $174.15 comprises only hardware and component costs for the Nexus One itself and does not take into consideration other expenses such as manufacturing, software, box contents, accessories and royalties, iSuppli said.

"Items like the durable unibody construction, the blazingly fast Snapdragon baseband processor and the bright and sharp active-matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) display all have been seen in previous phones, but never before combined into a single design," said Kevin Keller, a senior analyst at iSuppli, in a statement. Keller said the Nexus One has the most advanced features of any smart phone ever dissected by iSuppli's teardown analysis service.

iSuppli estimated the cost of the Snapdragon at $30.50, making it the most expensive single component in the Nexus One, the firm said. With the inclusion of the Snapdragon and the associated power-management and radio frequency transceiver chips, Qualcomm commands 20.4 percent of the Nexus One's BOM, giving it the biggest dollar share of any component supplier in the design, iSuppli said.

Click on image to enlarge.

One of the Nexus One's signature features is its 3.7-inch AMOLED display, which is superior to the conventional LCDs used in most smart phone designs in a variety of ways, iSuppli said. Compared to LCDs, AMOLEDs deliver a larger color gamut, a faster response time, a thinner form factor and reduced power consumption, according to the firm.

The Nexus One also sports a unibody design, which means that the smart phone's enclosure comprises a single part, iSuppli said. Such a design approach provides greater structural rigidity, providing more protection to the internal electronics in case the phone is dropped, the firm said. But a unibody tends to drive up manufacturing costs, iSuppli noted.

In addition to the NAND flash, the Nexus One includes 4Gbit (512Mbyte) of Samsung's DDR2 DRAM, iSuppli said, compared with 1Gbit or 2Gbit for comparable smart phones. The large quantity of DRAM is required to store executable code to support the fast performance of the Snapdragon processor, and allows for better application performance, iSuppli said.

Synaptics supplies the phone's capacitive touchscreen assembly at an estimated BOM cost of $17.5010 percent of the total BOMiSuppli said.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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