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Mobile Devices

LG CU500 Mobile Phone Teardown

22 September 2006
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Technology Teardown Services.

Main Features

Mid to high-end clamshell 3G dual-band UMTS / quad-band GSM HSDPA 1.8 clamshell camera phone with rotating 1.3MP camera module, and also features a 2.0 inch 65K color 176 x 220 resolution screen, dual speakers for 'stereo'. This phone also features Bluetooth 1.1, USB, significant internal memory (MCP - 256Mb NOR, 64Mb PSRAM) as well as a MicroSD card expansion slot.

LG CU500 Mobile Phone Main ImageLG CU500 Mobile Phone Main Image


Primarily the focus feature of this phone is it's HSDPA high speed data capability, taking data transfer rates the next step beyond EDGE. We have also seen enough LG phones to notice their striking similarities to Samsung phones, as if their only competitor were Samsung. Furthermore, this phone and the simultaneously analyzed Samsung HSDPA clamshell SGH-ZX20 are essentially identical functionally - same feature sets, both clamshells, and both using essentially the same or very similar core components. The LG seems to eek out just ahead of the Samsung by adding an external color screen (vs monochrome), and the always welcome fully internal antenna. Otherwise we are pretty much talking apples-to-apples HSDPA phones based on a Qualcomm MSM6275 core chipset (also used in the recently analyzed Samsung SGH-Z520) with Bluetooth 1.1, 1.3MP rotating camera modules with similarly sized screens.

Target Market

LG seems to be differentiating their products a little more from Samsung lately with more stylish designs - and are getting away (thankfully) from the generic silver flip phone designs of yesteryear - their designs seem more focused on capturing a more stylish - youthful audience. However, this phone specifically would have to focus primarily on those who intend to leverage the high data speed of HSDPA - the primary feature of the phone. Given the newness of this technology and the focus on data rate - this would be focused on more niche, upscale early-adopters, but may soon become the mainstream. Cingular and other service providers are only too happy to make this segment more mainstream as their revenues will be improved through the offering of HSDPA/EDGE oriented subscription services featuring paid downloading of streaming music and video channels, such as "Cingular Video for example. Vodafone in Europe are another example of a service provider offering such subscriptions with their ""Vodafone Live" services.

LG CU500 Mobile Phone - Main PCB TopLG CU500 Mobile Phone - Main PCB Top


Per press releases - July 17, 2006 via Cingular in the United States.

Pricing and Availability

The phone cost, as offered, with subsidies from Cingular is $99.99 with a 2-year contract and after a $50 mail-in rebate which requires ""an unlimited MEdia Net plan" - the cost of which is clearly compensating for what seems to be a low hardware retail price. (This is identical to the Samsung SGH-ZX20).

LG CU500 Mobile Phone - Main Enclosure RemovedLG CU500 Mobile Phone - Main Enclosure Removed

Volume Estimations

HSDPA phones are relatively new on the market and have not seen a great deal of penetration yet, we are therefore assuming a relatively modest lifetime production volume of 800,000 units for this model.

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).

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 a total US shipment volume of 6.3 million quad-band HSDPA/WCDMA 800/1900 EDGE/GSM 800/900/1800/1900 handsets during the 2006 - 2008 timeframe (roughly the product lifespan of this product) - which represents about 30% of similar handset shipments worldwide. Furthermore, Cingular is currently the only US service provider currently offering HSDPA service - it is assumed that T-Mobile will offer this service in 2007. We assumed that during this timeframe there would be roughly 10 - 15 handset models competing in this space in the US from which we derived our volume estimates. The LG CU500 has an advantage over Samsung SGH-ZX20 in terms of z-factor and tight relationship with carriers.

Function / Performance

Functional testing was not performed on the LG CU500.

LG CU500 Mobile Phone Cost AnalysisLG CU500 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 not one of the most complex or feature-rich phones we have seen, however, the phone is driven in cost by the features it has - such as the HSDPA capable chipset, dual speakers (for stereo sound), clamshell form factor (always adds cost and complexity) - dual color screens, etc.

Main Cost Drivers representing approximately 66% of total materials costs

Qualcomm - MSM6275 - Baseband Processor - Single Chip, Quad-Band GSM/GPRS, GPS, UMTS, HSDPA & Bluetooth

Primary Display - 65K Color TFT, 183um x 180um Pixel Size, 176 x 220 Pixels, 2 Inch Diagonal

Toshiba Semiconductor - TY9000A800C0GG - MCP - 256Mb NOR, 64Mb PSRAM

Camera Module - 1.3MP CMOS, 1/4' Format - Fixed Lens

Secondary Display - 65K color TFT, 220 x 220um Pixel Size, 96 x 96 Pixels

LG - Battery - Li-Ion Polymer, 3.7V, 1100mAh

High Intensity White LEDs (Backlighting)

Main PCB - 8-Layer - FR4/RCF HDI, 2+4+2

Qualcomm - RTR6250 - RF Transceiver - ZIF, Quad-Band GSM/GPRS Transceiver and Tri-Band UMTS 800/1900/2100MHz Transmitter

Kyocera - RB06A - Bluetooth RF Module

LG - TA-G30WP - Charger - 4.6V, 800mA

Materials and Manufacturing*

* - 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 and test. Not included in this analysis are costs above and beyond the material manufacture of the core device itself - cost of intellectual property, software, software loading and test, licensing, 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

Country of Origin / Volume Assumptions

As is typically the case with LG and Samsung phones - the product is labeled as Made in Korea, furthermore, we have assumed that for the LG CU500, the PCB was also populated in Korea, but that custom mechanicals (plastics and metals) were sourced from China. The charger or power supply is the only item clearly labeled as made in China - but that is by far the most popular country of origin for chargers, now.

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.

Design for Manufacturing / Device Complexity

At an overall component count of 785, the LG CU500 is 'mid-range' in terms of overall component count for similar phones - however, what was striking to us on this phone and the competing Samsung SGH-ZX20 was more the number of unique mechanical components. At 135 components, this phone definitely pushes the mechanical complexity towards the high end of clamshells - and it doesn't even have a second camera. Mechanically complex phones generally involve more hand assembly, and have longer manufacturing cycle times.

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, increased in this case because of assumed labor rate applied for Korea vis--vis much lower rates applied when the country of origin is 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

The bulk of the design here revolves around a Qualcomm chipset. The phone uses an 'all-in-one' DBB baseband solution from Qualcomm (MSM6275). 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 MSM6275 chip in the Samsung SGH-Z520 and parallel Samsung SGH-ZX20 analyses.

Main PCB


  • DBB - Qualcomm - MSM6275 - Digital Baseband Processor, Quad-Band GSM/GPRS, GPS, UMTS, HSDPA & Bluetooth

Battery / Power Management

  • Power Management IC - Qualcomm - PM6650


  • Toshiba Semiconductors - TY9000A800C0GG - MCP - 256Mb NOR, 64Mb PSRAM


  • PAM (GSM) - Anadigics - AND0041R - Quad-Band, GPRS, Polar EDGE, w/ Integrated Power Control
  • PAM (WCDMA) - RF Micro Devices - RF5144 - PAM - Dual-Band, CDMA 800/1900MHz
  • RF Transceiver (GSM/UMTS) - Qualcomm - RTR6250 - ZIF, Quad-Band GSM/GPRS Transceiver and Tri-Band UMTS 800/1900/2100MHz Transmitter
  • RF Receiver - Qualcomm - RFR6202 - ZIF, Dual Band UMTS 800/2100MHz
  • LNA - Qualcomm - RFL6202 - Dual, UMTS 800/2100MHz
  • Antenna Switch - Sony - CXG1198AEQ - Antenna Switch - GSM/UMTS Dual Mode

User Interface

  • Kyocera - RB06A - Bluetooth RF Module (Bluetooth baseband processor integrated into Qualcomm MSM6275)


  • Primary - 2' Diagonal TFT - 65K Color - 176 x 220 pixels
    Secondary - 1.2" Diagonal - 65K Color TFT - 96 x 96 Pixels

Camera Module

  • 1.3MP, CMOS, 1/4 Inch Optical Format - Fixed Lens (All polycarbonate)

LG CU500 Mobile Phone - Box ContentsLG CU500 Mobile Phone - Box Contents

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