Mobile Devices

BenQ-Siemens S81 Mobile Phone Teardown

01 May 2007
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Benchmarking.

Main Features

This is the first post-Siemens only Benq/Siemens phone we have analyzed. Appears to have little in common with previously analyzed Siemens phones externally and internally - partly because of WCDMA, partly because of uncertain changes within company post changes. This model is a SLVR-competing upper mid-range slim (13mm thick) candybar 3G UMTS (WCDMA) / Tri-Band GSM dual camera phone (1.3MP/VGA) (with flash) - also features Bluetooth V1.2, USB connectivity, and an unremarkable 176x220 262K color TFT transmissive screen.

BenQ-Siemens S81 Mobile Phone Main ImageBenQ-Siemens S81 Mobile Phone Main Image
Target Market / Strategy

Benq / Siemens have been struggling to break out and seek a deeper popularity and distribution for their phones beyond, say, Germany. The few Siemens phones we tested in the past really demonstrated superior mediocrity in all aspects of functioning based on all fronts, aesthetics, hardware design and software design and functionality. Their anemic and dwindling market shares and lack of presence worldwide will likely mean a need to strategize and shoot for the mainstream consumer. Furthermore, Benq will have to differentiate their product to stand out on the shelf against companies such as LG who are also struggling to establish their own unique brand identity in the wake of the newly successful and aesthetically popular lines of Motorola phones.

This design is certainly a first step in distancing itself from truly boring monoblock designs of yesteryear - and features a look and feel of both hardware and software that is a step above previous design efforts. Nonetheless it appears that based on the 'elegant' 13mm "thin physical design and marketing focus on speed and based on the nature of marketing materials their audience seems to be upscale or business mainstream users - translation: anyone buying a SLVR.


Announced in Q1 06, appears to have been made available in Q2 2006.

BenQ-Siemens S81 Mobile Phone (iSi) - Main PCB TopBenQ-Siemens S81 Mobile Phone (iSi) - Main PCB Top

Pricing and Availability

Per Siemens press release: ""Prices will be determined locally." Based on UMTS standard - regional focus will likely be Europe.

Volume Estimations

Given Benq's overall low expected shipping volumes, and their shipments within the UMTS/WCDMA segment we are assuming a relatively modest lifetime production volume of approximately 800,000 units for this model. Estimate based on the assumption of 2-year life span.

As a reminder, volume production assumptions are not meant to be necessarily 'market accurate', and our meant primarily to be 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).

BenQ-Siemens S81 Mobile Phone (iSi) - Main PCB BottomBenQ-Siemens S81 Mobile Phone (iSi) - Main PCB Bottom

ISuppli's Design Forecast Tool (DFT) and Market Shares

As part of iSuppli's Design Forecast Tool (DFT), we forecast handset shipments by major design feature and manufacture, as well as the number of design starts a manufacturer will have by feature set. From our most recent revision of this tool iSuppli estimates overall shipments of 2.35M units of WCDMA 2100 tri-band GPRS (900/1800/1900) models in 2006 by Benq with the introduction of 4 WCDMA 2100 GPRS tri-band (900/1800/1900) handsets in 2006.

Function / Performance

Functional testing was not performed on the Benq S81.

Manufacturing Notes

Country of Origin / Volume Assumptions

The BenqS81 received was labeled as made in Taiwan - however it was assumed that the PCBA and custom mechanicals were produced in mainland China to take advantage of lower nearby cost structures.

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 chargers), 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.

The issue of labor rates was revisited in Q2 2006 as we began to apply some research by one the major worldwide EMS suppliers and are now applying some of their research on total loaded costs by country and region to arrive at these new rates which are pronouncedly higher on the low end in China. Remember 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.

Design for Manufacturing / Complexity

When comparing this WCDMA phone to all of the other WCDMA phones analyzed in the last year this phone, along with the 4 other units analyzed in parallel are basically 5 of the phones with the lowest component counts seen to date. Part of this is due to the fact that this phone and the others against which it was simultaneously analyzed are candybar form factor (vs. sliders or clamshell) designs. This factor primarily affects the mechanical component count and final assembly complexity.

Nonetheless, at a component count of 657 components, of which 96 components are discrete mechanical components, puts this phone well below the average of those WCDMA phones seen in the last year or so. However, the absolute winner seen thus far, and a far cry from this phone in this air interface standard in terms of component counts, is the Nokia 6151. (See 6151 analysis for details).

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.

Design Notes

From an electronic design perspective this design bears a great deal of resemblance in core component selection to several Samsung models, including the simultaneously analyzed SGH-Z150 - but specifically bears greatest similarity in component selection to the Samsung SGH-Z140V previously analyzed. The board itself however, does not bear the typical thumbprint we would expect from Samsung PCBs.

Other noteworthy aspects to point out :

The use of the 'all-in-one' DBB baseband solution from Qualcomm (MSM6250). This chip really centralizes all of the functionality of the phone including even Bluetooth baseband functionality, as well as GPS functionality. We have also seen the Qualcomm MSM6250 chip in the following models: Vodafone (Huawei) 710, Samsung SGH-ZV40, SGH-Z140V, and SGH-Z150.

Is this actually a Samsung design?? The following design attribute and similarity to other Samsung models begs the question - this design is the first non-Samsung phone to feature a NOR-less memory structure. It is rare outside Samsung phones (but increasingly common within Samsung) to see phone designs with no discrete NOR Flash. This memory architecture which competes with the classic NOR/PSRAM memory combination seen in most mobile phones. It shares no design commonality with other phones of the same brand (previously Siemens, that is).


  • DBB - Qualcomm - MSM6250A - Single chip baseband solution

Baseband - Battery / Power Management

  • Power Management IC - Qualcomm - PM6650


  • MCP (NOR-less design) - 512Mb NAND Flash + 2x256Mb SDRAM, 1.8V, Pb Free Samsung Semiconductor KAL00R00KM-DG55


  • PAM (GSM) - Skyworks - SKY77328 - Quad-Band, GSM850/EGSM900/DCS1800/PCS1900
  • PAM (WCDMA) - Agilent - ACPM-7881
  • RF Transceiver (GSM/UMTS) - Qualcomm - RTR6250 - Quad-Band GSM/GPRS Transceiver and WCDMA (UMTS) Transmitter
  • RF Transceiver - Qualcomm - RFR6250 - ZIF, UMTS
  • Antenna Switch - Sony - CXG1198AEQ

User Interface

  • Bluetooth Baseband - In Digital Baseband Processor
  • Bluetooth RF - Kyocera - RB06A


  • TFT 2.0 Inch 176 x 220 262K Color

Camera Modules (Combined in a single assembly from Chicony)

  • Primary - 1.3MP CMOS
  • Secondary - VGA CMOS


BenQ-Siemens S81 Mobile Phone (iSi) - Box ContentsBenQ-Siemens S81 Mobile Phone (iSi) - Box Contents

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