I'm one of the (probably not very many) people who would like to see this become a standard feature.
Based on virtual teardown of Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphones, IHS iSuppli believes that the smartphones – both with Samsung Exynos 5 Octa and Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 system-on-chips – cost from $241 to $244 to manufacturer, which is considerably higher than the cost of the Galaxy S III. Samsung made a number of important advances in the model S4, which are the reasons of higher build-up expenditures.
“Although its hardware is not radically different from the Galaxy S III introduced in April of 2012, the Samsung Galaxy S4 includes some critical component updates that enhance its functionality as well as its BOM cost. Among the upgrades are a larger, full high-definition (HD) display; a beefed-up Samsung processor; and a wealth of new sensors that set a record high for the number of such devices in a smartphone design. And despite the larger display and other changes, the Galaxy S4 has roughly the same width and the same ease of handling as the Galaxy S III,” said Vincent Leung, senior analyst for cost benchmarking at IHS.
This virtual teardown and pricing estimation was derived from information and device specifications released by Samsung, combined with information regarding known components and suppliers. The information presented is preliminary and subject to change, pending IHS’s actual physical teardown of the device. The Galaxy S III pricing analysis was performed by IHS in September 2012.
Display Gets Full HD
The Galaxy S4 employs a 5” full-HD active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) display from Samsung Display with a pixel format of 1920*1080. This compares to the 1280*720 WXGA resolution display in the Galaxy S III. The S4’s HD display and touch-screen subsystem is estimated to carry a cost of $75, up from $65 for the S III. This represents the single largest area of cost increase for the S4 compared to the S III.
“While many brands have released smartphone models using full-HD LCD displays, the S4 represents the first with an AMOLED display at this resolution. Reaching a true pixel density greater than 300 ppi has been a challenge for AMOLED display makers. However, Samsung was able to enhance AMOLED display performance by implementing new technologies that also drove up the cost of the display,” said Vinita Jakhanwal, director for small and medium displays at IHS.
System-on-Chips Get Faster, Better, Fatter
Samsung uses its own Exynos 5 Octa eight-core system-on-chip (four high-performance ARM Cortex-A15 cores at 1.60GHz, four low-power ARM Cortex-A7 cores at 1.20GHz, dual-channel LPDDR3 memory controller, PowerVR SGX 544 graphics core) manufactured at its own facilities using 28nm process technology inside Galaxy S4 smartphone with HSPA+ wireless standard. The cost of the Galaxy S4’s processor is estimated at $30, compared to $17.5 for the chip in the Galaxy S III.
The company utilizes much less expensive Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064T) application processor (quad-core Qualcomm Krait 300 1.90GHz microprocessor [Cortex-A9-like cores with 3 decoders, 11 stage pipeline, VFPv4 FPU, 128-bit NEON accelerator, L2 2MB cache [512KB per core], Adreno 320 graphics core, 32-bit dual-channel LPDDR3 memory controller, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, no baseband/modem) inside its Galaxy S4 4G/LTE version. The chip costs around $20.
Given the different apps processors between the Samsung Exynos-powered S4 and the Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Galaxy S4, some variances in the software capabilities and application performance for the two models are expected.
With its emphasis on detecting and adapting to consumer lifestyles, the Galaxy S4 integrates an array of different sensors, including the accelerometer, RGB light, geomagnetic, proximity, gyroscope, barometer, IR gesture and even temperature and humidity varieties.
The humidity and temperature sensor as well as the IR gesture sensor are new in the Galaxy S4 compared to the Galaxy S III. Because of these new capabilities, the user interface and sensor subsystem of the Galaxy S4 carries an estimated cost of $16.00, up from $12.70 in the Galaxy S III.
Depending on the version of the smartphone – 4G/LTE or HSPA+ – the Galaxy S4 costs $241 or $244 to manufacture, respectively.
The 4G/LTE Galaxy S4’s wireless section costs $25.00, higher than the $16.00 for the HSPA+ version, because it supports the new air interface standard as well as up to six global LTE bands. However, the 4G/LTE version keeps expenditures down by using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chip as well as lower-cost wireless LAN/Bluetooth/FM/GPS subsystem.
Intel Corp. is believed to be the supplier of the baseband processor and RF transceiver in the HSPA+ version of the Galaxy S4, just as it did for the Galaxy S III. Broadcom is the likely source for the Wireless LAN/Bluetooth/FM/GPS subsystem and the GPS/GLONASS section in the non-Qualcomm variant of the Galaxy S4.
Samsung makes extensive use of its own internally manufactured parts in all of its phones, including the Galaxy S4. The company is believed to supply the display and touch-screen module, as well as the application processor and power management integrated circuit, according to the preliminary IHS analysis. Samsung also is the primary supplier of the SDRAM and flash memory, although the company could employ alternative sources for these commodity parts.
All told, Samsung accounts for at least $149 worth of component content in the HSPA+ version of the Galaxy S4, representing 63% of the total BOM, based on the results of the virtual teardown.