Electronics Production | October 14, 2010

Nokia N8 and iPhone 4 match in costs

Despite major differences in features and component selection, Nokia’s new N8 smart phone carries a Bill of Materials (BOM) cost nearly identical to that of the iPhone 4, according to market researcher iSuppli.
The N8’s BOM amounts to USD 187.47. The 16Gbyte version of the iPhone 4’s BOM came in at USD 187.51 (based on the teardown in June, although Apple’s component prices have eroded since that time). When the approximately USD 9.50 manufacturing expense of the N8 is factored in, the total cost to produce the smart phone rises to USD 196.97.

"The N8’S BOM shows Nokia is targeting the product squarely at the touch-screen smart phone segment now dominated by the iPhone", said Andrew Rassweiler, director, principal analyst and teardown services manager, for iSuppli. "Although the two phones differ markedly in key areas, including the camera and the core silicon, both are designed to hit similar production cost budgets."

Although not the most costly design feature of the N8, the camera stands out as one of the most striking differences between the N8 and the iPhone 4—and between the N8 and other recent smart phone designs. The primary camera in the N8 is based on a CMOS sensor with a 12-megapixel resolution, compared to just 5 megapixels for the iPhone—and 8 megapixels for the most cutting-edge smart phone designs.

The camera subsystem costs USD 31.08, including both camera modules and the Xenon flash unit. This makes it the third most costly subsystem of the N8.

The most expensive subsystem within the N8, like most other smart phones, is the display and capacitive touch screen section. The N8 employs an alternative display technology to the LCD—the Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (AMOLED), which is supplied by Samsung Mobile Display. The N8’s display and touch screen subsystem, which also includes a controller Integrated Circuit (IC) made by Synaptics, carries a collective USD 39.25 cost.

The Nokia N8 employs a variant of NAND flash memory known as Embedded MultiMediaCard (eMMC). eMMC NAND flash can be slightly more expensive than the conventional variety. Although memory is always multisourced, Toshiba was found to be the source in the sample of the N8 used for iSuppli's analysis.

When 4Gbits of additional OneNAND memory and mobile Double Data Rate (DDR) DRAM from Samsung are added in, the memory subsystem carries a total cost of USD 37.12, making it the second most expensive portion of the N8.

Fourth on the cost ranking is the applications, media and baseband processing subsystem, at USD 22.00. This section features a digital baseband processor IC that is a custom part manufactured by Texas Instruments. It also sports a Broadcom mobile multimedia processor chip. The processing subsystem also features a Texas Instruments analog baseband/power management chip.

iSuppli hasn’t identified any discrete HDMI transmitter ICs, and doesn’t expect to find them.

Supplier lineup / Other notable suppliers and components in the N8 include:

- Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd.’s Bluetooth/wireless local area network IC

- Texas Instruments’ single-chip GPS device and audio power amplifier

- ST-Ericsson SA’s RF Transceiver, RF power management IC and power reset device

- Renesas Electronics Corp.’s Power Amplifier

- Epcos AG’s front-end module

- AKM Semiconductor Inc.’s electronic compass

- STMicroelectronics’ Microelectromechanical System (MEMS) accelerometer
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