Overview / Main Features
The Droid Charge is an Android 2.2, 4G (LTE) smartphone with a 4.3 diagonal Super AMOLED display (a Samsung favorite from internal Samsung sources), an 8MP auto focus primary camera module (with LED 'flash') and 1MP secondary camera module. Also, the Droid Charge came bundled with a very generous 32GB MicroSD memory card, with a more modest MCP (4Gb of SLC OneNAND and 4Gb of Mobile DDR - mostly in direct support of apps processor support) and 2GB of Sandisk iNAND on board. Despite all these specs, were it not for the 4G/LTE angle on this phone, it would be just another in a slew of Android smartphones with the usual single screen slick touch interface. As a result of the inherent costliness of LTE currently, the phone itself is also offered, with contract at a higher price point than many other smartphones currently offered (a ~$300 USD price point vs ~$200 price point - or the current $250 HTC Thunderbolt price).
The Samsung Droid Charge is the second LTE Samsung phone we have analyzed in recent months (the other being the Samsung Galaxy Indulge), and this model, carried by Verizon in the US, is Verizon's second LTE phone, after the HTC Thunderbolt, which we also tore down. We are also analyzing, in parallel, the Samsung Epic 4G SPH-D700, which is a WiMax enable phone, which offers us some perspective as well on the question of LTE vs WiMAX architectures from the same manufacturer.
In IHS iSuppli's teardowns group we have suddenly begun to see a number of 4G LTE and WiMax handset designs, and the most striking thing about all of them, from a hardware perspective for us, is the fact that the core silicon is coming from a whole new host of IC OEMs. Whereas before, for years, we were used to seeing the same big names in core silicon at the heart of the baseband section, whether it was Qualcomm, ST-Ericsson, Infineon, etc. there were certain names we expected to see over and over in different handset OEM's designs - but with these new 4G designs, there are a number of new players showing up in these slots - it's a whole new frontier and chance to mix things up in terms of dominant chip suppliers as phone designs evolve ever forward.
What's interesting about this Samsung Droid Charge and the Galaxy Indulge is the fact that Samsung, who also, in the 'after iPhone' years, have become adept and able to supply themselves vertically with core applications processors of their own design and manufacture, are now also capable of supplying themselves vertically with their own LTE silicon in the form of the CMC22000 processor present in both Samsung LTE designs analyzed. This vertical integration benefits Samsung from a cost and feature point of view, in the same way producing their own S5PCxxxx processors does. In fact, Samsung is the most vertically integrated handset manufacturer out there and supplies, from various Samsung divisions the bulk of the value of their phones, and this foray into core silicon for all their handsets, really makes Samsung the most formidable competitor out there. From displays, to memory, to core silicon, batteries, etc. Samsung controls so much of their designs internally in a way that no one else does - and that is worth underscoring especially now with this new crop of 4G designs.
Furthermore, to make things even more interesting, the Samsung Droid Charge eschews the Qulacomm CDMA section that we saw as recently as the Samsung Indulge (also 4G) in favor of relatively new players - VIA Telecom (for the CDMA baseband), and Silicon Motion for the CDMA RF transceiver. It seems that Samsung may wish to seek independence from Qualcomm, or simply find that employing Apple's strategy of working with smaller, more flexible vendors gives them more room to negotiate - but this is speculation.
Pricing - The Samsung Droid Charge currently sells on Verizon for $300 USD ($299.99) with a 2 year new-customer contract.
Availability - North America (LTE 700MHz, CDMA/PCS/1xEVDO Rev. A (800/1900 MHz))
For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have applied a lifetime production volume of approximately 1.5M units.
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.
Main Cost Drivers ~76% of Total Materials Cost
Samsung Mobile Display - AMS472GL02 - Display Module - Samsung Super AMOLED Plus, 4.3' Diagonal, 16M Color AMOLED, 480 x 800 Pixels, w/ Capacitive Touchscreen Overlay
Samsung Semiconductor - MMB3R32GUACA-GE - MicroSD Memory Card - 32GB
Primary Camera Module - 8.1MP, CMOS, 1/3.2' Format, Auto Focus Lens
Samsung Semiconductor - KB100D011A-A457 - MCP - 4Gb SLC OneNAND + 4Gb Mobile DDR, PoP (Estimated)
Samsung Semiconductor - CMC22000 - Baseband Processor - LTE
VIA Telecom - CBP7.1 - Baseband Processor - CDMA2000 1X / EVDO REV A
Samsung Semiconductor - S5PC110A01 - Application Processor - 1GHz, ARM Cortex A8 Core, 45nm, PoP
DAP Corp. - Main PCB - 10-Layer - FR4/HCF HDI, 2+6+2, Lead-Free, Halogen-Free
Silicon Motion - FC7831 - RF Transceiver - LTE
Samsung Electro-Mechanics - SWB-B23 - Bluetooth / WLAN Module - Contains Broadcom BCM4329, IEEE802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth V2.1+EDR, 65nm
Direct Materials + Manufacturing $261.01
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 in some circumstances the packaging and literature as well.
Country of Origin / Volume Assumptions
Based on device markings, we've based our analysis with the final assembly in Korea. Furthermore, we have assumed that custom mechanicals (plastics, metals, etc.) were also sourced in Korea.
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 wall power charger), 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
The Samsung Droid Charge LTE handset has an overall component count of 1271 (excluding box contents) - as a side note - this about 20% more than even the Indulge. We expected a higher device complexity for a first generation LTE handset and the Samsung and other LTE designs delivered this. Looking specifically at the Main PCB, for example, we see a total of 1062 parts. As a point of reference, another 3G Samsung device (Nexus S), the main PCB complexity was only 590 parts.
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.
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.
Overall, the Samsung Droid Charge design makes few cost tradeoffs - and seems to represent the top end of the feature and cost/price scale. Of course, Samsung being a vertically integrated manufacturer, should be able, in principle, to offer more bang for the cost buck in terms of hardware features.
As mentioned above - the core of the design (you could say there are two cores to the design) are the Samsung designed and produced apps processor (S5PC110A01) - seen in many Samsung phones. Samsung is leveraging this processor the way Apple has the A4. In fact, Samsung has been a true follower of Apple's design principles if not their designs outright. Also, straight from Samsung's own internal bag of tricks is the CMC22000 which is the LTE baseband processor. So the two spheres of electronic design both are Samsung dominated. The CDMA wireless interface chips are from Via Telecom (Baseband) and Silicon Motion. It is interesting the even the very recent Samsung Indulge still was using a Qualcomm QSC chip(set) in the CDMA baseband role. It is important to note that this smartphone is the first CDMA design that does not contain a Qualcomm CDMA chipset.
Here is a summary of the major components used in the Samsung Droid Charge design:
Apps Processing / Memory
- Apps Processor - Samsung Semiconductor - S5PC110A01 - 1GHz, ARM Cortex A8 Core, 45nm, PoP
- NAND Flash - Samsung Semiconductor - KB100D011A-A457 - MCP - 4Gb SLC OneNAND + 4Gb Mobile DDR, PoP (Estimated)
- NAND Flash - Sandisk - SDIN5D2-2G - iNAND, 2GB, 3.3V, MLC
- LTE - Samsung Semiconductor - CMC22000 - Baseband Processor - LTE
- CDMA - VIA Telecom - CBP7.1 - Baseband Processor - CDMA2000 1X / EVDO REV A
RF / PA
- LTE - Silicon Motion - FC7831 - RF Transceiver - LTE
- CDMA - Silicon Motion - FC7780 - RF Transceiver - Dual-Band CDMA2000 1x/EVDO, 800/1900MHz
BT / FM / GPS / WLAN
- Module - Samsung Electro-Mechanics - SWB-B23, Contains Broadcom BCM4329
- Samsung Super AMOLED Plus - 4.3' Diag, 16M Color, 480 x 800 Pixels, w/ Capacitive Touchscreen Overlay
Primary Camera Module
- 8.1MP, CMOS, 1/3' Format, Auto Focus Lens