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Analyst: iPhone 4, 4S have comparable BoM

Posted: 07 Oct 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:iPhone? LTE? BoM?

According to an estimate by UBM TechInsights, the bill-of-materials (BoM) for the 32GB iPhone 4S from Apple Inc. is roughly $203, nearly similar to that of iPhone 4. This quotation includes the A5 processor and Retina display that are valued at about $26 and $31, respectively.

UBM TechInsights said it derived its estimate from previous cost history and estimates on the major components of the iPhone 4S. It also concluded that the smartphone will achieve the same healthy profit margin that Apple has garnered from previous iPhones.

"Technology-wise, you aren't seeing anything revolutionary or unexpected from the iPhone 4S," noted Jeffrey Brown, VP of business intelligence at UBM TechInsights. "As we predicted in July, the iPhone 4S is a moderate improvement over the iPhone 4featuring an A5 processor that has been in use for approximately nine months, an image sensor that puts the handset on par with its competitors and improved battery life."

Apple was widely expected to launch iPhone 5, an entirely new model supporting 4G. Instead, the company introduced iPhone 4S, an incremental update of iPhone 4. According to IHS iSuppli, Apple is likely to introduce an LTE-capable iPhone 5 when an affordable chipset solution allowing a thinner form factor is available, likely in late 2012 or in mid-2013.

iPhone 4/4S BoM

"As Apple always does, the company selected features for the iPhone 4 that are designed to deliver a superior customer experience, rather than to provide technology for technology's sake," said Francis Sideco, senior principal analyst for wireless communications at IHS. "Because of this, Apple declined to offer an LTE-enabled iPhone that would have been more expensive, larger and more power hungryand instead opted to introduce a device that delivers nearly the same wireless data speed, but with a superior user experience."

David Carey, VP of technical intelligence at UBM TechInsights, said he believes Apple's decision not to introduce an LTE iPhone was related to the slow adoption of LTE. According to UBM TechInsights, the introduction of the iPhone 4S across GSM and CDMA networks in a singular design was alluded to in the introduction of the Verizon model of the iPhone 4.

"When the CDMA version of the iPhone 4 was brought to market, it featured a Qualcomm baseband modem that was capable of working across both networks," Brown said. "This was the single biggest indicator that Apple was moving toward a 'world phone' that would reduce design times and production costs. There would no longer be the need to produce two phones for different carriers to choose from. We expect the new antenna design to be very similar to what we saw in the CDMA version of the iPhone 4."

"Just as we saw a modest technology bump from the iPhone 3G to the iPhone 3GS, Apple is adopting the same model of iterative improvement and incrementalism as they gear up for the iPhone 5 platform," Carey added.

- Dylan McGrath
??EE Times

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