Mobile Devices

Sony Ericsson Z520a Mobile Phone Teardown

30 January 2006
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Benchmarking.

Main Features

Mid-range clamshell camphone (VGA - no flash unit) quad-band GSM camera (GPRS, not EDGE), 1.75 Inch TFT display (128x160 65K color - 4k color secondary), Bluetooth and IrDA and significant NOR flash content (384Mb).

Sony Ericsson Z520a Mobile Phone Main ImageSony Ericsson Z520a Mobile Phone Main Image



The SonyEricsson z520a is a mid-range phone with few standout features (just Bluetooth, and extra NOR flash memory content), but otherwise it is a pretty typical mid-range clamshell phone but has, admittedly a more attractive and stylish physical presentation than the average clamshell.

Sony Ericsson Z520a Mobile Phone - Main PCB TopSony Ericsson Z520a Mobile Phone - Main PCB Top

Target Market(s)

As with the other mid-range clamshell phones, it is important to note again that what is now considered to be a 'basic' model these days (in developed countries, that is) keeps evolving, and this type of phone is considered, more and more as a basic model in many markets, and is likely to be heavily subsidized and sell in high volumes through certain service providers.

According to SonyEricsson's own press release "The new Z520a is specifically designed for the hip younger generation, particularly young women, who want their phone to be an expressive and stylish accessory.


Official company press release - June 13, 2005.


Appears, per the SonyEricsson website and press release, to be available currently throughout the Americas, but not at all in Europe, Asia and developing countries. In the US it seems that Cingular may currently be offering this phone - however, I could not find concrete evidence (unit available for purchase online). The competing Nokia 6101 and Motorola V360 are being offered by T-Mobile in the US.

Volume Estimations

We are using the estimate of 4.5 M units for lifetime production.

Market Shares / Sector Performance

We estimate that SonyEricsson had an average market share in 2005 (based on global unit volumes for the first 3 quarters of 2005), of approximately 6%, up from below 5% just a few years ago, and it seems that their share is on a slow steady upward path.

Furthermore, in order to better estimate our market volumes for this particular unit, we consider several factors - such as the overall growth of GPRS (for this phone vs EDGE for the competing models), and SonyEricsson's expected volume within that segment (using our Design Forecast Tool). ISuppli estimates that in 2005 GPRS handsets shipped 418 million units (all manufacturers worldwide), and that this figure is expected to decrease to 382 million units in 2006. Furthermore, we estimate SonyEricsson's shipments for GPRS enabled phones (tri and quad band combined) to be approximately 28M units in 2005, decreasing to 26M units in 2006.

Sony Ericsson Z520a Mobile Phone Cost AnalysisSony Ericsson Z520a Mobile Phone Cost Analysis

Cost Notes

Phone costs are largely feature driven, but also driven by general manufacturing complexity, design for manufacturing (or DFM), component counts and of course the country where they are assembled.

This phone is no exception and distinguishes itself primarily by features, (Bluetooth, FM radio), air interface standard (EDGE or GPRS), and also on memory.

Main Cost Drivers Representing ~62% of total materials costs:

Primary / Secondary Displays*

MCP - Flash 384Mb, SRAM 64Mb


Blue LED Backlights

Camera Module


* Does not include costs for interconnect PCB used by displays

Manufacturing and Materials**

** - The total materials and manufacturing costs reported in this analysis reflect only the direct materials cost (from component vendors and assorted EMS providers), manufacturing and test. Not included in this analysis are costs above and beyond the manufacture of the core device itself - cost of shipping, logistics, marketing and other channel costs including not only the EMS provider's and 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 any literature, packaging, and accessories supplied with the phone itself.

Manufacturing Notes

Country of Origin / EMS provider

This SonyEricsson Z520a was produced in Malaysia, per the manufacturing label on the phone. Furthermore it is assumed that domestic Malaysian manufacturing applies not only to final assembly, but to the production of the PCBA. We still assume, however that most Asian manufacturers will utilize low cost China for production of mechanical components. Local labor rate assumptions are stated in the overview of this analysis.

Design for Manufacturing / Complexity

Overall - coming in at a component count of 611, the Sony Ericsson z520a, has a higher overall component count, when compared with other competing flip phones (clamshell) with nearly identical features; however, this component count is not exceptional for clamshell models.

From a mechanical perspective, at 102 components it is also well within the norm of this group of similar phones, as well as other Sony Ericsson Z series flip phones. The mechanical count is typically a good relative gage of complexity and directly correlates to the cost of hand assembly and has a direct bearing on our calculation of manufacturing cost. The extra components are driven by the mechanical deisgn (with replaceable covers), but also 'special' features, such as the antenna assembly which were a little more complex than other designs.

Design Notes

The DBB and ABB chips come, as we have seen with all other SonyEricsson phones, from TI, though the chips inevitably always seem to be a variant of the same root PN# - so it is assumed minor variations, evolutions or customizations are made for each model (75197xxxx for DBB specifically). The TWL93016 ABB chip was also used in the k750i design - the use of this chips seems to eliminate the need for the additional Dialog power management chip (D0747EC) seen in the K300i, k500i and k700i designs which used the TI TWL9300 ABB chip.

This is the first phone design we have seen with so much NOR flash (384Mb) on an MCP. In fact, all of the recent designs we examined, k750i, k700i, k500i, and k300i, all used a similar 256Mb NOR / 64Mb SRAM/PSRAM chip (the k750i also featured a block of NAND flash).

The Bluetooth solution (system on chip - BGB203) from Philips is the same used recently on the high-end k750i model we have analyzed, and is a more integrated solution than the very common modular approach to Bluetooth. The camera module is a VGA module on a small flex circuit with several stiffeners in various locations. The manufacturer is unknown to us. This module had the most discrete components of all the camera modules analyzed in this bundle (refer to comparative analysis for details).


  • DBB - Digital Baseband Processor - Texas Instruments - 751979BIZ
  • ABB - Analog Baseband / Power Management - - Texas Instruments - TWL93016EZQW


  • Intel MCP - RD38F4350LLYTQ2 - Flash 384Mb, SRAM 64Mb


  • PAM - Skyworks - SKY77500 - Quad-Band 850/900/1800/1900MHz w/Integrated Antenna Switch
  • RF Transceiver - Philips Semiconductor - RF2001 - ZIF, Tri-band, GSM


  • Bluetooth - Philips Semiconductor - BGB203 - Bluetooth 1.2 SIP - 0.15um Process


  • CMOS (assumed) VGA camera module - manufacturer unknown


  • Primary: 1.75 Inch, Transflective (Assumed) TFT 128x160 pixels 65K Color
  • Secondary: 1 Inch, 80x101 pixels 4096 color STN


Sony Ericsson Z520a Mobile Phone - BatterySony Ericsson Z520a Mobile Phone - Battery

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