Mobile Devices

Apple iPhone 4S (16GB) Mobile Handset Teardown

30 November 2012
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Benchmarking.

Overview / Main Features

The iPhone 4S disappointed a lot of fans at first. Many of them were disappointed that despite being a new phone, the iPhone was called the iPhone 4S, and not iPhone 5, suggesting that the public starts to get caught up in their own fantasies about Apple products, and that the public have ever-accelerating expectations of Apple. The iPhone 4S is, as it implies, a souped-up iPhone 4 version, just as the 3GS was a souped-up version of the iPhone 3G. It stood to reason that Apple would not overreach. It stood to reason that Apple would remain conservative, and try and get as many cost reductions they could by leveraging similar, or in some cases, the same components used in the iPhone 4.

Apple iPhone 4S (16GB) Mobile Handset - Device ViewApple iPhone 4S (16GB) Mobile Handset - Device View
Furthermore, with the introduction of the 4S, Apple now has a portfolio of 3 iPhone 4Ss, two downgraded iPhone 4s (8GB configuration only), and a downgraded iPhone 3GS. Apple now has subsidized phones through carriers at the $200 level, the $100 level and the $0 level. This approach has been a hallmark of other Apple designs, like the iPod line. Offer the public several price points, establish the brand with new consumers and young consumers, then those users will ultimately walk up the pricing staircase, bring increasing future revenues.

But with each new iPhone revision - increasing attention and steeply ramping sales volumes make each new release more interesting than the last. IHS iSuppli currently forecasts total unit sales of 85 million units for all iPhone models mixed in 2011 alone. The iPhone 4S is expected to represent 40 million units of that in 2011, doubling to 80 million or so in 2012.

To make things even more interesting, aside from just improving the overall performance by transitioning from Apple's A4 to the newer, faster, bigger A5 (produced still by Samsung for Apple), and an 8MP camera module with BSI image sensor, Apple is going to provide the same phone to all carriers in all markets. One SKU. One design, three different memory configurations. This is something we have never seen on this scale, though we have seen some RIM devices with this approach. Most manufacturers would specifically take out superfluous RF and power amplifier components to cost-optimize models meant for different carriers and different markets - but Apple, despite potentially saving millions and splitting the iPhone up into multiple SKUs with optimized configurations, has chosen to go with one phone, one SKU. You will see in this design that some novel approaches are being used to support this approach, putting Apple ahead of the pack on integration in the power amplifier and RF sections. This puts Apple in a good position to offer LTE soon, offer the additional functionality, but still offer HSPA+/EvDO backward compatibility while keeping a small footprint. Still - such choices come at a cost.

Apple iPhone 4S (16GB) Mobile Handset - Main PCB TopApple iPhone 4S (16GB) Mobile Handset - Main PCB Top

So much in the iPhone 4S stays the "same" as the iPhone 4 HSPA and EvDO versions, but some important areas that consumers don't care about are quite different.

For what remains the same - the display and touchscreen, form-factor and core frame (the frame itself probably has some modified fixtures - but likely the same supplier base, etc.), rear window are the same. Vendors still holding down their respective "slots" in the design include Dialog Semi in power management (offering a new part just for the 4S), Cirrus in the audio codec slot (the part seems modified from the last round), and Murata/Broadcom who typically tag team the WLAN/BT module and chip. Murata makes the module, Broadcom makes the chip. In the past these always included the ubiquitous-most-popular-chip-seen-in-teardowns BCM4329, and now Broadcom's newer BCM4330 chip is implemented which upgrades Bluetooth functionality to Rev 4.0. Texas Instruments maintains their touchscreen controller slot - but now that chip is naked (flipchip), helping further reduce the size. It appears to offer the same functionality however, as the touch control IC they supplied in the iPhone 4.

As for who got left behind? That would clearly seem to be Infineon (Intel now) in favor of Qualcomm, and Audience Semiconductor whose noise suppression chip seems to be missing in action.

And in the RF and PA section some interesting shuffling of shares and deck chairs seems to be happening between Avago, Skyworks and TriQuint that is changing each of their fortunes in iPhone land, and giving Apple one of the most advanced phone designs as it relates to baseband/RF/PA architecture. See design notes for details.

Apple iPhone 4S (16GB) Mobile Handset - Display ModuleApple iPhone 4S (16GB) Mobile Handset - Display Module

Target Market

High end smartphones


October 14, 2011

Pricing and Availability

Pricing - Apple iPhone 4S is tiered, like so many iPhone before it - starting at 16GB, 32GB and 64GB configurations, which, with carrier subsidies, goes for $199, $299 and $399 with a contract. The iPhone 4 (8GB) now sells on the same terms for $99, and the iPhone 3GS (8GB) also is free on the same terms.

Availability - In North America this phone was offered, upon its release by ATT, Verizon, and now Sprint networks. Worldwide availability forthcoming.

Volume Estimations

For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have applied a lifetime production volume of approximately 120M units over 2011 and 2012. It is worth noting that all iPhones mixed we estimate at about 86 million units for 2011. These figures come from IHS/iSuppli's wireless group.

As a reminder, teardown volume production assumptions are primarily used for our cost analysis in terms of amortized NRE and tooling costs, especially for custom components specific to the model being analyzed (mechanical components especially). Unless assumed volumes are different by an order of magnitude, minor changes in volume (say 1 million vs. 2) rarely have a large net effect on our final analysis because of this.

Apple iPhone 4S (16GB) Mobile Handset - Main PCB BottomApple iPhone 4S (16GB) Mobile Handset - Main PCB Bottom

Cost Notes

Refer to BOM (XLS file) for detailed analysis

Main Cost Drivers (~70% of Total Materials Cost)

$23.00 - Display Module - 3.5" Diagonal, 16.7M Color TFT, 960 x 640 Pixels, 800:1 Contrast Ratio, 500cd/m2 Brightness - (Qty:1)

$19.20 - Hynix (Toshiba seen in 2nd sample) - H2DTDG8UD1MYR - Flash - NAND, 16GB, MLC - (Qty:1)

$16.40 - Module source unknown - Rear Camera Module - 8MP, BSI CMOS, 1/3.2" Format, Auto Focus Lens, w/ LED Flash - (Qty:1)

$14.99 - Samsung Semiconductor - APL0498 - Applications Processor - Dual Core, 45nm, PoP - (Qty:1)

$14.32 - Enclosure, Main Chassis - Machined Metal Frame, Stamped / Formed Stainless Steel Center Plate, Spot-Welded, w/ Insert-Molded Plastic Insert & 15 Threaded Metal Inserts - (Qty:1)

$14.00 - Touchscreen Assembly / Display Window - 3.5" Diagonal, Capacitive, Glass/Glass, Painted, w/ Integral Flex PCB - (Qty:1)

$9.20 - Samsung Semiconductor - K3PE4E400B-XGC1 - SDRAM - Mobile DDR2-667, 4Gb, 1.2V, PoP - (Qty:1)

$9.07 - Qualcomm - MDM6610 - Baseband Processor - Dual-Mode, GSM/EDGE/EVDOrB/HSPA, Multi-Band, 45nm - (Qty:1)

$6.19 - Amperex Technology - 423282 - Battery - Li-Polymer, 3.7V, 1430mAh, 5.3Whr, w/ Integral Flex, & Pin Socket Connector - (Qty:1)

$5.90 - Murata - BT / WLAN Module - Contains Broadcom BCM4330 & RF Switch, IEEE802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth V4.0+HS - (Qty:1)

Direct Materials $188.67

Direct Materials + Manufacturing $195.88

What Is Not Included in our Cost Analysis

The total materials and manufacturing costs reported in this analysis reflect ONLY the direct materials cost (from component vendors and assorted EMS providers), AND manufacturing with basic test. Not included in this analysis are costs above and beyond the material manufacture of the core device itself - cost of intellectual property, royalties and licensing fees (those not already included into the per component price), software, software loading and test, shipping, logistics marketing and other channel costs including not only EMS provider and the OEM's margin, but that of other resellers. Our cost analysis is meant to focus on those costs incurred in the manufacture of the core device and exceptionally in some circumstances the packaging and literature as well.

Manufacturing Notes

OEM/ODM/EMS Relationships / Manufacturing

Though Foxconn (HonHai Precision) has historically been Apple's contract manufacturer for iPhones until the iPhone 4 CDMA, when Pegatron also entered the fray as a second EMS provider for iPhones. We understood that the primary EMS provider for the CDMA variant of the iPhone 4 was Pegatron when it was released. Although it was not an exclusive deal (Apple still used Foxconn for the majority of their EMS services), the choice of Pegatron reflect Apple's strategic hedge of EMS providers for this particular model of the iPhone. It is assumed, that especially in light of the tremendous volumes Apple are now producing, that they would continue to leverage two sources to assure continuity of supply and a good negotiating position.

Country of Origin / Volume Assumptions

Based on device markings, we've based our analysis with the final assembly in China. Furthermore, we have assumed that custom mechanicals (plastics, metals, etc.) were also sourced in China.

Country of origin assumptions relate directly to the associated cost of manufacturing, where calculated by iSuppli. In the cases of "finished" sub-assemblies (such as display), we do not calculate internal manufacturing costs, but rather assess the market price of the finished product in which case country of origin assumptions may or may not have a direct effect on pricing.

Remember also that labor rates are applied directly only to hand inserted components and systems in our bill of materials, and although regional assumptions do, these new rates do not have a direct effect on our modeled calculations of placement costs for automated SMD assembly lines. "Auto" inserted components (such as SMT components) placement costs are calculated by an iSuppli algorithm which allocates a cost per component based on the size and pincount of the device. This calculation is affected by country or region of origin as well

Design for Manufacturing / Device Complexity

iPhones are complex. iPhones are dense. iPhones have a lot of discrete mechanical components and are built to last and be somewhat field serviceable. This means a lot of tight tolerances, a lot of screws, a lot of clips, a lot of tape and a lot of flex circuitry. There is no doubt that iPhones are a more challenging build than many other phones - and Apple leaves little margin for error with a very "air tight" design envelope. This makes manufacturing tricky.

Having said all of that - in order to try and find a metric by which to measure the relative complexity we can look at the component counts. This latest iPhone 4S features a sum total of 1142 components (not including box contents). The iPhone 4 CDMA featured 1021 components, and the iPhone 4 HSPA featured 984 components. Many of the components are smaller passive components in all of the designs, and much of the increased component count comes down to the increased "one phone all networks" approach. Had Apple not made strides in integration - such a phone could clearly have much high component counts. The Storm2 9550 from RIM, for example, also a dual-mode phone - featured 1240 components, for example.

Component counts have a direct bearing on the overall manufacturing cycle times and costs, and also can increase or decrease overall yields and re-work. Our calculations of manufacturing costs factor counts and more qualitative complexities in the design. The cost of manufacturing is also, to some extent, decreased in this case because of assumed labor rate applied for China.

Note that manual labor has a much smaller effect on auto-insertion assembly lines (for the Main PCB, for example), where manufacturing costs are much more capital equipment intensive and driven by these investment costs.

Apple iPhone 4S (16GB) Mobile Handset - Front Camera ModuleApple iPhone 4S (16GB) Mobile Handset - Front Camera Module

Design Notes

What is not so interesting is that so many items remain the same - but still needs to be said about the iPhone 4S:

" Display/touchscreen the same - vendor base the same - even though this is collectively the single most expensive subsystem in the phone, it has not changed.

" NAND memory configuration the same - overall vendor base the same, but "surprise" - Hynix is qualified for first round of production (normally this is Samsung/Toshiba only") - price continues to erode, as always, especially for the world's single largest buyer of NAND flash. NAND Flash is always multi-sourced.

Vendors more or less keeping their "slots" in iPhone 4S include:

" WiFi/BT/FM Radio Module - Murata / Broadcom (BRCM) - Broadcom BCM4330 as part of WiFi/BT/FM Radio Module (from Murata) - BCM4330 is the evolution of the BCM4329 previous gen chip which was one of the most popular chips we have ever seen in teardowns.

" Cirrus Logic (CRUS) - Maintains their position as audio Codec vendor - though the item seems beefier than in the last round

What is of interest but was largely known prior to teardown:

" Samsung / A5 Processor - The iPhone 4S features the A5 processor - still from Samsung as far as we can tell from samples. Die markings are the same. (the assumption was they would try to migrate to TSMC as foundry) price erodes over the course of production.

" Camera Module - The iPhone 4S features an 8MP camera module with a BSI image sensor (that improves photo quality - especially in low light - but is a more costly approach) . Image sensor shown to be from Sony (by third party - we are unable to independently verify this (requires xray equipment). It is assumed to be dual-sourced with OmniVision, according to our image sensor analyst. As far as the camera module manufacturers go - we can never identify them. Largan was rumored to have been a source to Apple (camera modules).

Main Areas of Latest Interest are in the areas relating to the air interfaces - or wireless modem section (Baseband / RF /PA Section)

This is a dual mode phone - unlike the previous HSPA OR EvDO versions (which were different, discrete models with different BB/RF/PA sections).

It is assumed that all iPhone 4S have the same architecture - to be confirmed - we will open an ATT iPhone 4S next to confirm (the one we have performed our analysis on was from Verizon).

Vendors in this area affected

Baseband/RF Transceiver/ Power Management

o Qualcomm - The iPhone 4S uses two chips from Qualcomm - the MDM6610 (Baseband chip with internal 512Mb of DRAM), and RF Transceiver RTR8605. It's an interesting choice that we can't quite explain - because the MDM6600 in the iPhone 4 CDMA actually integrates both functions into a single package. We assume this was done for board layout reasons. QCOM has about $14 worth of collective print position in our estimate.

RF/PA Components

o Avago (AVGO) - Move up on value chain for Avago - this is a custom part for Apple - it merges functionality previously offered by Skyworks (2 module from the iPhone 4 HSPA) and Triquint (One module from the iPhone 4 HSPA). Whereas Avago previously supplied only minor components of a more or less commodity RF nature - this is a very special converged approach that gives Apple a real technology lead over most other manufacturers - reducing the complexity of the RF/PA section even more (Apple phones have all been very integrated as it relates to wireless interface - but this ups the ante and leaves others technologically lagging) ~$2 per device assumed.

o TriQuint (TQNT) - May downgrade the value of their slot - now supplying PAM module and Duplexer. - Lower value components than before.

o Skyworks (SWKS) - downgrades the value of their slots - now supplying just one PAM Module (2 in iPhone 4 HSPA) at lower value than before.

o Peregrine Semi (not publicly traded) - First time identifying Peregrine semi part - an RF switch/antenna switch.

o Infineon (now Intel) - appears to have a minor RF component (RF Switch) - a relatively low cost, low contribution part.

Here is a summary of the major components used in the Apple iPhone 4S design:

Main PCB


Apple only use MLC NAND - not eMMC managed NAND like most competitors. DRAM jumped from DDR to DDR2 due to the A5 processor.

Flash NAND - Hynix - H2DTDG8UD1MYR - 16GB, MLC

DRAM - Samsung Semiconductor - K3PE4E400B-XGC1 - Mobile DDR2-667, 4Gb, 1.2V, PoP

Apps Processing

Applications Processor - Samsung Semiconductor - APL0498 (A5) - Dual Core, 45nm, PoP


The choice of the MDM6610 seems odd. The MDM6600 offered better integration. The MDM6610 does have a DRAM die built in - and this did eliminate a memory MCP that was in the iPhone 4 CDMA. This memory offset helps explain the change, but"

Baseband Processor - Qualcomm - MDM6610 - Dual-Mode, GSM/EDGE/EVDOrB/HSPA, Multi-Band, 45nm (2nd Die - Samsung 512Mb Mobile DDR)

Flash - NOR -Macronix - 8Mb, Serial (Estimated)


Module - Murata - BT / WLAN Module - Contains Broadcom BCM4330 & RF Switch, IEEE802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth V4.0+HS


RF transceiver - Qualcomm - RTR8605 - Dual Mode, GSM/EDGE/EVDOrB/HSPA, Multi-Band

Converged PA Module - Avago Technologies - ACPM-7181 - Multi-Mode, Quad-Band GSM/EDGE, & CDMA/WCDMA 900/2100

Transmit Module - TriQuint Semiconductor - TQM666052 - CDMA / WCDMA 1900 PAM, w/ Coupler, Detector, & Duplexer

Duplexer Module - TriQuint Semiconductor - TQM9M9030 - CDMA / WCDMA 900/2100 Duplexer, CDMA / WCDMA 1800 SAW Filter, & Ceramic Multilayer Inductors

Transmit Module - Skyworks - SKY77464-20 - CDMA / WCDMA 850 PAM, w/ Duplexer

Power Management

Power Management - Qualcomm - PM8028 - for Qualcomm Chipset

Power Management - Dialog Semiconductor

User Interface and Sensors

All sensors the same as iPhone 4 (HSPA and EvDO). Cirrus Logic part slightly modified - different die size and pin count.

Sensors (MEMS)

Gyroscope - ST Microelectronics - L3G4200D - 3-Axis, 16-Bit, Digital Output, w/ Integrated 8-Bit Temperature Sensor

Magnetometer (eCompass) - AKM Semiconductor - AK8975B - 3-Axis, 8-Bit, w/ Built-In ADC &Digital Output, w/ Supplementary Substrate

Accelerometer - ST Microelectronics - LIS331DLH - MEMS, 3-Axis, 2g/4g/8g, Digital Output

Other UI ICs

Audio Codec - Cirrus Logic - CS42L53 - Ultra Low Power, Stereo, w/ Headphone Amplifier

Touch Controller - Texas Instruments - F76153

Display / Touchscreen

Display Module - 3.5" Diagonal, 16.7M Color TFT, 960 x 640 Pixels, 800:1 Contrast Ratio, 500cd/m2 Brightness

Touchscreen Assembly / Display Window - 3.5" Diagonal, Capacitive, Glass/Glass, Painted, w/ Integral Flex PCB

Camera Assemblies

Rear Camera Module - 8MP, BSI CMOS, 1/3.2" Format, Auto Focus Lens, w/ LED Flash

Front Camera Module - VGA, FSI CMOS, 1/7.5" Format, Fixed Lens


Amperex is one known supplier of several to Apple.

  • Amperex Technology - 423282 - Li-Polymer, 3.7V, 1430mAh, 5.3Whr, w/ Integral Flex, & Pin Socket Connector

Apple iPhone 4S (16GB) Mobile Handset - Box ContentsApple iPhone 4S (16GB) Mobile Handset - Box Contents

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