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iPhone teardown shows mostly the same suppliers, different components

Posted: 27 Sep 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IHS? iPhone 5? teardown? 4G LTE? Samsung?

IHS has conducted a physical teardown of the iPhone 5 showing that the low-end model of iPhone 5 with 16GB of NAND flash memory carries a BOM of $199, with the cost rising to $207, when manufacturing expenses are added in. For the 32GB version of the iPhone 5, the BOM cost increases to $209, while the 64GB version is estimated at $230, stated the market research firm.

"The iPhone 5 exhibits a great deal of similarity to the iPhone 4S in terms of component suppliers," said Andrew Rassweiler, senior principal analyst, teardown services, for IHS. "But beyond this superficial resemblance, there are some critical changes to product design and parts that enable major upgrades that improve user experience. These range from the faster applications processor, to the larger display, to the high-speed 4G LTE air interface. And beyond some of the high-profile changes that bring obvious benefits in performance and features, there are myriad upgrades and enhancements to virtually every component and sub-system in the iPhone 5."

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Figure 1: IHS iSuppli Table: Preliminary iPhone 5 vs. iPhone 4S Cost Estimates
Source: IHS iSuppli Research, September 2012.

iPhone 4S suppliers making a return engagement with the iPhone 5 include Samsung, Qualcomm, Murata, Dialog, Texas Instruments, STMicroelectronics, Cirrus Logic, Avago, Skyworks, NXP and AKM. Neverthelessfrom the advanced, $17.50 A6 processor manufactured by Samsung, down to the relatively simple $0.62 electronic compass from AKM Semiconductoralmost every part has been updated.

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Figure 2: Apple iPhone 5 Key Vendors and Parts C in Decending Order of Component Value
Source: IHS iSuppli Research, September 2012.

New suppliers include SanDisk Corp., which contributed the NAND flash memory in the specific iPhone 5 dissected by IHS. This is first time that SanDisk NAND has been found in an iPhone examined by the IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis Service. In the iPhone 4S teardown, the NAND supplier was Samsung. However, with the NAND component being a commodity part available from multiple suppliers, Samsung, Hynix and Toshiba also could serve as Apple's sources for this memory.

Elpida likewise has replaced Samsung as the supplier of the SDRAM in the individual iPhone 5 analysed by IHS. However, Samsung and Hynix could be supplying this widely available memory part. Compared to the iPhone 4S, the density of this part has been doubled to 1GB, up from 512MB, giving it a total cost of $10.45.

The battery in the iPhone 5 is supplied by Sonya role taken by Amperex Technology in the iPhone 4S. The cost of the battery in the iPhone 4S is estimated at $4.99.

One major change to the iPhone 5 is in its base band processor. While Qualcomm remains the supplier of this critical component, the iPhone 5 integrates the company's MDM9615M and RTR8600 parts; the 4S, in comparison, employed the Qualcomm MDM6610 and RTR8605 devices. The new Qualcomm parts were used to allow support for the LTE air standard.

"The support for 4G LTE in the iPhone 5 added a new level of complexity to the radio frequency front end, so much so that Apple had to create two different models of the iPhone to accommodate their wireless carrier partners," said Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS. "This represents a departure from Apple's approach of offering only a single model for the iPhone 4S."

"While most manufacturers make great effort to simplify designs by minimising the total number of mechanical parts and fasteners in their products, Apple appears to be going in the other direction with the iPhone 5," said Kevin Keller, senior principal analyst, teardown analysis, for IHS. "The iPhone 5 incorporates even more mechanical parts than previous iPhone designs, resulting in a very complex assembly. But Apple can do this and still produce the iPhone 5 at such low costs due to its capability to leverage its vast army of low-cost labour."

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