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Wednesday, September 19, 2012
iPhone 5 Carries $199 BOM, IHS Estimates

The new iPhone 5 carries a bill of materials (BOM) of $199.00 for the low-end model with 16Gbytes of NAND flash memory, according to a preliminary virtual teardown conducted by the IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis Service.

That's more than another preliminary BOM estimation for the iPhone 5 by teardown specialists at TechInsights, who rated the new device at $167.50.

IHS iSuppli's virtual teardown analysis is based on an analysis of the specifications announced by Apple, combined with information regarding known components and suppliers.

According to IHS, when the $8.00 manufacturing cost is added in, the cost to produce the iPhone 5 rises to $207.00. For the 32Gbyte version of the iPhone 5, the BOM cost increases to $209.00, while 64Gbyte version is estimated at $230.00, as presented in the table below.

"With the base model carrying a $199.00 BOM, the iPhone 5?s components are expected to be slightly more expensive compared to the iPhone 4S model," said Andrew Rassweiler, senior principal analyst, teardown services, for IHS. "The low-end iPhone 4S with the same memory density as the base-model iPhone 5 carried a BOM of $188.00, according to a preliminary estimate issued by IHS in October 2011. While the price of some components, such as NAND flash, has fallen during the past year, the iPhone 5's overall BOM has increased mainly because its display and wireless subsystems are more expensive compared to the iPhone 4S."

As in previous models, the costliest subsystem in the iPhone 5 is estimated to be the display with integrated, in-cell touch sensing. At $44.00, this subsystem is pricier than the combined total of $37.00 for the iPhone 4S display with separate touchscreen based on pricing from October 2011. This is due to the iPhone 5?s larger display - at 4.0 inches diagonally, compared to 3.5 inches for the iPhone 4S - and the inclusion of the new in-cell touchscreen technology. The iPhone 5 partially integrates the touch layers into the display glass, making the product thinner and reducing the number of parts required to build display that senses touch without the need for a separate capacitive touch layer.

Samsung made the first advance beyond conventional capacitive touch with what is known as on-cell touch. All of Samsung's Super AMOLED screens employed in smartphones use on-cell technology, which is sold as a single integrated display/touchscreen unit from Samsung.

Apple's in-cell technology represents the next step beyond on-cell by integrating the touch sensing feature into the display. No separate touchscreen assembly is involved; instead, a single unit comes directly from the iPhone 5's three known display suppliers - LG Display Co. Ltd., Japan Display Inc . and Sharp Corp.

The addition of high-speed 4G LTE technology is estimated to have driven up the cost of the wireless section of the iPhone 5, at $34.00, compared to about $24.00 for the iPhone 4S.

For now, IHS believes there are at least two different versions of the iPhone 5 - each with multiband filters that will allow Apple to support as many global markets as possible with as few versions of the product as feasible.

The iPhone 5 is expected to use a similar LTE wireless subsystem found in the iPad 3, but with at least one major enhancement. The iPad 3's wireless section is based on Qualcomm's first-generation LTE baseband processor, the MDM9600, and its RTR8600 RF transceiver. However, in the iPhone 5, Apple is expected to employ Qualcomm's second-generation MDM9615 baseband processor, which is made with a more advanced semiconductor manufacturing technology, reducing power consumption.

Another major upgrade of the iPhone 5 is the use of the A6 processor, compared to the A5 in the iPhone 4S. The A6 is estimated to be slightly more expensive, at $17.50, compared to $15.00 for the A5, based on pricing at the time of the iPhone 4S?s introduction.

IHS expects Samsung to be the manufacturer of the A6. However, since this is an Apple-designed chip, Samsung is expected to produce it on a foundry basis, rather than acting as a semiconductor supplier for Apple. IHS speculates the A6 is manufactured using at least 32nm process geometry, and perhaps even the more advanced 28nm technology. More information about Apple' sA6 SoC is provided here by Linley Gwennap, who heads The Linley Group.

The 16Gbytes of NAND flash in the iPhone 5 is estimated to cost $10.40, down dramatically from $19.20, based on pricing in October 2011.

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