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© Apple Electronics Production | February 11, 2011

CDMA iPhone4: How about a really close look?

Despite having nearly the same functionality and a similar bill of materials (BOM) as the previous model, the new code division multiple access (CDMA) version of the iPhone 4 carried by Verizon Wireless includes significant changes in its design and component selection, IHS iSuppli teardown analysis indicates.
The latest version of the iPhone 4 carries a BOM of USD 171.35, down from USD 187.51 for the previous model, based on a preliminary pricing estimate issued in June.. When manufacturing expenses are added, the total production cost for the CDMA iPhone 4 amounts to USD 178.45.

The attached table presents the preliminary IHS iSuppli estimate of the bill of materials (BOM) and manufacturing costs of the CDMA iPhone 4. Please note that this cost assessment is preliminary in nature, and accounts only for hardware costs and does not take into consideration other expenses such as software, licensing, and royalties or other soft expenditures.

© IHS iSuppli

Just don’t design it that way

One of the most significant changes is a redesign of the iPhone 4’s antenna. The original iPhone 4 came under heavy criticism for signal integrity issues that occurred when users held the handset in certain ways.

The first version of the design featured an all-in-one approach combining global positioning system (GPS), Bluetooth and wireless local area network into one segment of the antenna superstructure that was integrated into the iPhone 4’s enclosure. The new version employs a separate Bluetooth/WLAN antenna.

“Apple has decided to isolate the Bluetooth/WLAN antenna from the enclosure/antenna assembly,” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst, competitive analysis at IHS. “This design change leaves the top enclosure antenna segment to serve primarily as the GPS antenna and probably also as a CDMA diversity receive antenna. The use of antenna diversity is significant because this scheme improves signal reception performance.”

Integration benefits

The new CDMA iPhone 4 design also shows increased integration of semiconductor components through its use of Qualcomm’s MDM6600 baseband/RF transceiver, replacing the Infineon PMB9801 baseband chip used in the original universal mobile telecommunications system (UMTS)/global system for mobile communications (GSM) version of the smart phone. The Qualcomm part not only provides support for the CDMA air standard required to make the iPhone 4 compatible with Verizon Wireless’ 4G wireless network, it also integrates GPS control circuitry, which was supported by a separate chip—Broadcom's BCM4750—in the previous version of the iPhone 4.

In another example of optimization in the design, the CDMA iPhone 4 features a new revision of WLAN/Bluetooth module from Murata Manufacturing. The module integrates Broadcom’s BCM4329 WLAN/Bluetooth/frequency modulation chip, which was in Murata’s module for the last iPhone 4 iteration.

Design reuse

Beyond these changes, the CDMA iPhone 4 retains many of the same components seen in the previous-generation design.

Most notably, the design and supplier selection for the memory and the display subsystems—the two most expensive portions of the handset—appear to remain largely unchanged from the original iPhone 4, pending verification by the IHS teardown service’s continuing analysis.

At USD 40.40, the memory accounts for 23.6% of the total iPhone 4 CDMA BOM. The memory subsystem features 16GBytes of MLC NAND flash memory and 4Gbits of mobile double data rate (DDR) synchronous dynamic random access memory (SDRAM) from Samsung Semiconductor. The subsystem also includes additional memory chips from Toshiba contained in a multichip package (MCP).

The display/touch screen module represents the next most expensive subsystem, at USD 37.80, or 22.1% of the BOM. Just as in the original version of the iPhone 4, the display of the CDMA iPhone 4 employs a low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) liquid crystal display (LCD) that features advanced in-plane switching (IPS) technology. The module is being manufactured by multiple sources, with LG Display and Toshiba Mobile Display supplying the majority, according to Vinita Jakhanwal, director for small and medium displays at IHS.

Skyworks v. TriQuint

The CDMA iPhone 4 includes two SKY77711-4 transmit modules from Skyworks Solution. In the original iPhone 4 torn down by IHS iSuppli, transmit modules from TriQuint Semiconductor were identified. However, IHS believes that Apple was using both Skyworks and TriQuint as dual sources for the transmit modules in the original iPhone 4.

Furthermore, IHS believes that Apple continues to use the TriQuint parts in the original version of the iPhone 4.

Because of this, it may not be the design loss for TriQuint that it appears to be on the surface.

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