Initial iSuppli report estimates production cost of 16GB iPhone 5 for $207

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Date: Wednesday, September 19th, 2012, 07:20
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

The exact cost of an iPhone 5 is still under wraps until the handset’s release on Friday, but there’s still a pretty good guess in the meantime.

Per a report released by iSuppli on Tuesday, Apple apparently pays an estimated US$207 to build the base model 16GB iPhone 5, a cost slightly higher than last year’s iPhone 4S.

The market research company noted in its report that while previously-expensive NAND flash memory prices have dropped, the iPhone 5′s display technology and 4G LTE wireless components brings the build cost up to US$207, or US$8 more than consumer pricing after wireless carrier subsidies. In comparison, the bill of materials, or price without labor costs, for last year’s iPhone 4S was estimated to be $188.

In total, the iPhone 5 is estimated to have a BOM of US$199, while the 32GB model rises to US$209 and the 64GB version jumps to US$230. With a manufacturing cost of US$8 across the line, the final cost comes out to US$208, US$217 and US$238 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models, respectively.

A report last Friday from UBM TechInsights pegged the 16GB iPhone 5′ BOM to be around US$168, substantially lower than the IHS estimate.

The most expensive part in the iPhone 5 is the new 4-inch display which comes in at US$44. Apple is sourcing its screens from multiple suppliers, including LG Display, Japan Display and Sharp, as manufacturing the cutting-edge in-cell displays is complex and results in relatively low yield rates.

“The iPhone 5 makes a big evolutionary step in technology that we have not seen elsewhere with the use of in-cell touch sensing,” said IHS Senior Principal Analyst, Teardown Services, Andrew Rassweiler. “Most other smartphones LCDs use a completely distinct capacitive touchscreen assembly that is physically separate and placed on top of the display. The iPhone 5 partially integrates the touch layers into the display glass, making the product thinner and reducing the number of parts required to build display that senses touch without the need for a separate capacitive touch layer.”

Instead of sandwiching the touch sensing layer between glass substrates, Apple’s in-cell technology integrates the capacitive components with the LCD array, thus doing away with at least one layer of glass.

The company is expected to be using a US$34, LTE-capable wireless system from Qualcomm similar to the one found in the iPad 3. However, the new iPhone’s subsystem swaps out the first-generation MDM9600 baseband processor for the more advanced and power efficient second-generation MDM9615.

In previous years, NAND flash memory was one of the more costly components, however current prices have nearly halved in less than one year.

“NAND flash continues to come down in price as manufacturing processes for these memory chips become more advanced,” Rassweiler said. “And because it is the world’s largest buyer of NAND flash, Apple gets preferential pricing. Apple’s massive leverage in this market is reflected in our price estimate.”

Finally, the firm is estimating Apple’s new A6 processor is a bit more expensive at US$17.50 than the A5 found in the iPhone 4S, which cost US$15 in 2011.

A more comprehensive analysis of the new handset’s internal parts is expected to be completed later this week, when the iPhone 5 hits store shelves on Friday.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iFixit publishes teardown report of EarPods, finds more durable design

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Date: Wednesday, September 19th, 2012, 06:37
Category: Hardware, News

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It’s the teardowns that tell you what Apple’s really been up to.

Per the full report by iFixit, Apple’s newly redesigned Earpod headphones have been taken apart to reveal a more durable design that is more resistant to water and sweat damage.



The teardown of Apple’s new EarPods was published on Tuesday and stated that the EarPods, which arrive free with iOS devices, are “still of the throw-away kind.”

The EarPods can also be purchased separately for US$29, which is how iFixit got their hands on the new accessory before the new iPhone 5 launches on Friday. The solutions provider used a guitar pick to separate the integrated volume controls and microphone on the headphone cord, while the earbuds were taken apart with an X-Acto blade.

“Like most speakers, the EarPod speakers consist of a diaphragm/cone, a voice coil, a permanent magnet, and a cabinet,” they explained. “The voice coil is supported by a composite diaphragm made of a paper cone and a polymer surround. This is the first iteration of Apple headphones to use paper cones rather than all plastic.”

The switch to paper cones is said to make the speakers more resistant to tearing. That’s an improvement from the plastic that Apple previously used.

In their teardown, the repair website found that Apple “had durability in mind” when the company designed the new EarPods. In particular, the redesigned controls include larger cable wrapping on both ends to reduce strain on the wires.

The EarPods are also said to be more resistant to water and sweat damage. This was accomplished by removing the external microphone grate Apple employed on its previous earbuds.

“Unfortunately, these products are still of the throw-away kind,” iFixit concluded. “Sourcing parts is next to impossible, and it would be a tough sell to convince someone to take apart their earbuds instead of buying a new pair. They will never be the same once taken apart.”

Apple unveiled its redesigned EarPods at the iPhone 5 media event in San Francisco, Calif., last week. Apple design chief Jony Ive said his company scanned hundreds of ears searching for commonality between them, and the new headphones are designed to fit the geometry of a user’s ear without creating a seal.

EarPods feature a directed speaker that points forward into a user’s ear canal. A second port on the back aids with mid-level tones, and also maximizes air flow for improved sound quality.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

2012 model iPod touch, iPod nano, third-party Lightning adapters begin to appear on Amazon

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Date: Monday, September 17th, 2012, 10:56
Category: Hardware, iPhone, iPod Nano, iPod shuffle, News

Even if Apple’s Lightning connector adapter pre-orders sold out in only a few hours, there’s always third party models to choose from.

Per AppleInsider, third-party adapters for Apple’s new Lightning connector have begun to appear online. In addition, the new iPod touch and nano can also be preordered from Amazon.

As of Monday, resellers on Amazon were offering a pair of new Lightning to 30-pin adapters made by third parties. The US$17.95 Nanotch adapter features a male Lightning port on one end, with a female legacy 30-pin device port on the other. The two are connected by a 20-centimeter cord.

Also available is the US$9.99 iTronz USB Sync Data/Charging adapter. It features a male Lightning plug on one side, with a female 30-pin port on the other, and the two are connected by a single solid plastic piece rather than a wire.

Apple sells its own first-party Lightning to 30-pin adapter and cable, but those accessories quickly sold out once they went on sale late last week.

In addition, as of Monday, Amazon began taking direct preorders for Apple’s updated iPod lineup. Available for purchase are the new fifth-generation iPod touch, the seventh-generation iPod nano with multi-touch display, and the fifth-generation iPod shuffle.

The new iPod lineup is advertised to ship anywhere between two and five weeks from now. Apple has said its new iPods will ship in October. The latest iPod touch and iPod nano, along with the iPhone 5, use the new Lightning port, which is 80 percent smaller than the legacy 30-pin dock connector.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple component hints towards full gigabyte of addressable RAM on iPhone 5

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Date: Monday, September 17th, 2012, 07:48
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

If you’ve been hankering for an iPhone with a full gigabyte of RAM onboard, your wish might be about to come true.

Per AnandTech, slides of Apple’s A6 chip presented at the company’s iPhone 5 debut event on Wednesday reveal the processor likely holds 1GB of RAM, double the amount found in the legacy iPhone 4 and 4S handsets.

The unobscured parts numbers seen on the chip point to a Samsung DRAM component which boasts 1GB of addressable RAM.



The part number emblazoned on the A6 is K3PE7E700F-XGC2 which, according to Samsung’s 2012 product guide is a package-stacked DRAM module. This is in line with Apple’s A-series SoCs, which implement a package-on-package design to save space.

Breaking down the part number, “K3P” points to a dual-channel LPDDR2 package with 32-bit channels, while the “E7E7″ designation denotes the 512MB density of each DRAM die, which comes out to a total of 1GB of RAM. Finally, the “C2″ yields the part’s 1066MHz cycle time/data rate.

The publication notes the new package should give the A6 a 33 percent boost in peak memory bandwidth compared to the iPhone 4S.

It was recently speculated that the new A6 processor could hold the company’s first custom-designed CPU core, a departure from previous A-series SoCs which relied solely on ARM’s patented technology.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and hey…a full gig of RAM!!!

Samsung begins fabricating 128GB storage modules for mobile devices

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Date: Monday, September 17th, 2012, 06:30
Category: Hardware, News

Samsung may have a stinging legal bill after the Apple fiasco, but this isn’t to say they don’t have some damn cool stuff coming down the line.

Per Electronista, the company’s semiconductor wing has started fabricating 128GB flash storage chips and 2GB LPDDR3 DRAM modules for mobile devices. Currently, most high-end smartphones are shipping with a maximum of 64GB of internal storage, leaving users with media-heavy libraries unable to take their music collections with them. The introduction of the new modules should go a long way to alleviating this problem, although pricing will remain a key factor in adoption.

Its new 2GB LPDDR3 DRAM modules are built on Samsung’s new 30nm process, enabling 2GB modules to be made on the one package for the first time. The new chips run at 1600 Mbps, which is a 50 percent speed boost over LPDDR2 DRAM packages. Samsung claims that it will enable real-time decoding of 1080p content on smartphones and tablets.

With manufacturing ramping of both memory modules ramping up now, it could align perfectly for the rumored appearance of a Galaxy S III successor, which it is suggested may show as soon as February 2013 at the Mobile World Congress.

In short…imagine a 128GB iOS device somewhere down the line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Lightning port adapters sell out in 30 minutes, shipments slip to 2-3 weeks

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Date: Friday, September 14th, 2012, 08:49
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

It wasn’t the sale of the century, but it WAS a part people needed and it went fast.

Per AppleInsider, just half an hour after the iPhone 5 went up for pre-order, USB adaptors for Apple’s new Lightning port sold out, forcing users with compatible accessories to wait until new shipments arrive in October.

Both versions of Apple’s new Lightning to 30-pin adaptor are already quoted to ship in October, but the Lightning to USB adaptor saw shipments slip to two to three weeks within 30 minutes of Apple initiating iPhone 5 pre-orders on Friday.

Currently, there are three adaptor models available in the U.S., a US$39 version with a 0.2-meter cable and a US$29 unit that resembles an oversized 30-pin plug and the regular Lightning to USB adaptor that runs for US$19.

Apple unveiled the smaller 9-pin Lightning connector alongside the iPhone 5 at a special event on Wednesday, with the new plug said to be a necessity in building thinner iDevices. The proprietary part is 80 percent smaller than the legacy 30-pin connector it replaces, is all-digital and can be plugged into compatible devices in any orientation.

Besides the iPhone 5, the new iPod touch and iPod nano also use the newly introduced standard.

The Lightning to USB adaptor may be available in brick-and-mortar Apple Stores, though the stock allotted to each location is not known.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to cover international LTE standards via three hardware variants

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Date: Thursday, September 13th, 2012, 08:31
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

The iPhone 5 is en route.

And it looks like a nifty feat of engineering.

With the variety of different LTE frequency bands used by various carriers available globally, Apple will be making three versions of iPhone 5, with the potential for additional new models as Apple signs on other carriers according to AppleInsider.



Apple built a single, global model of the iPhone up until the beginning of 2011, when it introduced a CDMA-only iPhone 4 version compatible with Verizon. When it introduced iPhone 4S a year ago, Apple incorporated support for both GSM and CDMA networks, resulting in a “world phone,” albeit still locked by specific carriers.

The new iPhone 5 now comes in three LTE versions, all of which continue to support the global GSM/UMTS services of iPhone 4S (Quad Band 2G GSM/EDGE on 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz, and Quad Band 3G UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA on 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz) with new support for “4G” DC-HSDPA (which at up to 42Mbps is as fast as most carriers’ 4G LTE service). Only one of the three versions continues to support CDMA.

To cover its launch carriers’ LTE services, Apple has announced these three different models:

A North American GSM A1428 model for use on AT&T and Apple’s Canadian partners Bell/Virgin, Rogers/Fido and Telus/Kodo provides LTE support for bands 4 (AWS) and 17 (700b MHz) but not CDMA.

AWS-flavored LTE is exclusive to North America, where it was originally assigned for use as wireless cable. In both the US and Canada, it has been reassigned for mobile voice and data networks. While Canadian carriers used it for LTE deployments, T-Mobile acquired large portions of the U.S. rights to AWS and used it to build out its non-standard 3G UMTS service.

This is one significantly reason why AT&T wanted to acquire T-Mobile two years ago. After the U.S. government intervened, T-Mobile was left with its AWS 3G service incompatible with previous iPhones. It now plans to build out LTE service, although that won’t happen until next year, leaving it with the interim option of shifting its 2G GSM service to 3G/4G HSDPA in order to woo unlocked iPhone 4/4S/5 users (which it currently has in place in only a few markets).

A second, CDMA model A1429 will support Sprint and Verizon’s CDMA network in the U.S. and KDDI in Japan. In addition to the standard “EVDO rev A” 800 and 1900MHz support on previous CDMA iPhones, iPhone 5 now also supports the slightly faster and more efficient rev B on 2100MHz. Sprint and Verizon once considered upgrading to EVDO rev B before throwing their support behind 4G networks, but Japan’s KDDI does use rev B networks. CDMA carriers in India and Russia also support rev B.

More importantly, the CDMA iPhone 5 supports LTE Bands 1 (2100MHz), 3 (1800MHz), 5 (850MHz), 13 (700cMHz, used by Verizon) and 25 (1900MHz, used by Sprint). The first three bands overlap those used by Apple’s other carrier partners in Europe and Asia (but not AT&T/Canada), although the company also notes that “band support does not guarantee support on all LTE networks running on the same bands.”

Finally, a third model for the rest of the world supports GSM carriers that have added support for LTE on Bands 1 (2100MHz), 3 (1800MHz), 5 (850MHz).

This includes Deutsche Telekom in Germany, Everything Everywhere in the UK, Optus/Virgin and Telstra in Australia, Softbank in Japan, SK Telecom and KT in Korea, SmarTone in Hong Kong, and M1 and SingTel in Singapore.

There are several other global LTE carriers Apple could support, either with its existing models or new models, that the company hasn’t announced any deals with yet.

In Japan NTT DOCOMO uses Band 1, and a long list of other European carriers are deploying Band 3 LTE. T-Mobile, Cricket and Metro PCS use Band 4 (AWS) in the U.S., so these carriers could all apparently be supported by Apple’s existing models, given a carrier agreement.

Other carriers have deployed LTE Bands that none of Apple’s existing iPhone 5 versions support. A variety of carriers in Austria, Brazil, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland are all deploying Band 7 (2600 MHz), while others in Germany and Sweden are using Band 20 (800MHz), and a variety of Middle Eastern carriers have started building out Band 38 (2600MHz).

iPhone 5 is believed to use Qualcomm’s fifth generation MDM9615 baseband chip, which supports both FDD and TDD signaling technologies for LTE.

FDD or Frequency-Division Duplex signaling technology is used by CDMA and WCDMA/UMTS for most modern cellular systems, and is the technology most LTE providers will use, including the networks being built out by AT&T and Verizon in the U.S. Qualcomm owns most of the patents supporting CDMA and WCDMA technologies.

TDD or Time-Division Duplex is an alternative flavor of the LTE standard developed by China, and is being deployed in that country under the name TD-LTE. China developed its own TD-SCDMA and now TD-LTE to avoid paying Qualcomm’s patent royalties. By supporting both FDD and TDD technologies, Qualcomm’s chipset can enable a single device to work on a wide variety of 3G or 4G networks.

It’s not clear if Apple is supporting TDD-LTE (or China’s 3G TD-SCDMA) in its existing iPhone 5 versions. This would dictate whether a separate model would be needed to support LTE service in China and India. Apple’s partner Softbank initially built out TDD-LTE in Japan, but has since augmented its coverage with standard FDD-LTE.

However the MDM9615 does appear to be giving Apple support for new DC-HSPA+ and EV-DO Rev-B, making it likely that Apple’s existing iPhone 5 models will eventually make it to a wider selection of carriers. And even in areas with incompatible LTE networks, iPhone 5 will support very fast HSPA+ networks at similar speeds to today’s LTE deployments.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple suppliers shipping 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro, updated iMacs

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Date: Monday, September 10th, 2012, 07:28
Category: Hardware, Rumor

The 13-inch MacBook Pro you really want and an updated iMac may be en route soon.

Per the oft-controversial DigiTimes, new 13-inch MacBook Pros with Retina display and updated all-in-one iMacs are now being shipped by Apple’s upstream supply chain, according to a new report.

Anonymous tipsters reportedly indicated that the new 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display should officially launch in September or October.

The report also indicated that Apple planned to launch three models of the new iMac, but yield problems with panels led the company to postpone mass production of “the high-end model.” No details on exactly which model that is, whether “high-end” was defined through size or hardware speed, was provided.

The information somewhat aligns with what analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities indicated about the new iMacs last August. He said production issues with the all-in-one desktop would lead to the 21.5-inch model launching at a sooner date than the larger 27-inch model.

The new iMacs are not expected to feature high-definition Retina displays, but will reportedly have a redesigned chassis along with Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors.

The production issues are said to be caused largely by a new “full-lamination process” that will attach the display panel to the protective cover glass as part of the new design.

The web site first reported in April that Apple planned to feature a new glass front design of the updated iMac lineup. It was said that the new models would feature anti-reflective display technology, and that they would be notably thinner than current models.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple drops Samsung as NAND, DRAM supplier for initial batch of next-gen iPhone handsets

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Date: Friday, September 7th, 2012, 06:40
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

It’s hard to say what the specific reason behind this is, but there are definitely a few guesses.

Per Reuters, Industry sources claim Apple has cut orders for Samsung memory modules to be used in its upcoming next-generation iPhone, saying the first batch of handsets widely expected to launch on Sept. 21 following a Sept. 12 debut, will not carry chips made by the South Korean company.

While Apple will continue to use Samsung-made DRAM and NAND flash modules in future products, the Cupertino tech giant is tapering orders made to its smartphone rival, an unnamed supply chain source told Reuters on Friday, Korean local time.

A separate report from The Korean Economic Daily cites another person familiar with the matter who said Apple dropped Samsung memory completely for initial iPhone rollout. Taking the place of Samsung’s units will be parts made by Toshiba, Elpida Memory and SK Hynix.

“Samsung is still in the list of initial memory chip suppliers (for new iPhones),” said the Reuters source. “But Apple orders have been trending down and Samsung is making up for the reduced order from others, notably Samsung’s handset business.”

The person went on to say the move away from Samsung is in line with Apple’s plan to diversify its supply chain, and is not in response to the two companies’ worldwide patent dispute. The iPhone maker has been attempting to reduce its reliance on Samsung parts for months, the most recent move prompting the Korean electronics giant’s value to fall over concern that it would be shut out as an Apple supplier.

The high demand for Apple products frequently outweighs supply, especially at big launches like the upcoming next-generation iPhone, and the company is looking to spread out its supply chain to combat possible component shortages that would cause a production slowdown.

Samsung is the sole supplier of the Retina displays used in the third-generation iPad, and fabricates the A-series SoCs found in Apple’s iDevice line, as well as a number of other integral components.

Apple is expected to debut the sixth-generation iPhone at a Sept. 12 special event, which will be followed by a rollout on Sept. 21.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Wireless carrier Deutsche Telekom receives nano-SIMs, hint towards next generation of iPhone

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Date: Wednesday, September 5th, 2012, 07:07
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

The SIM cards are getting smaller…and possibly showing what’s in store for the next-generation iPhone.

Per AppleInsider and iFun.de, Germany’s Deutche Telekom has begun distributing nano-SIM cards to its partners ahead of the anticipated launch of Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

A picture of the new nano-SIM card being shipped out in Germany was published on Tuesday by German-language site iFun.de. Letters being sent out with the new nano-SIM cards indicate they are intended for “the latest generation of smartphones,” but do not mention the iPhone specifically.



Apple’s next-generation iPhone is rumored to feature a nano-SIM slot that’s roughly 40 percent smaller than current micro-SIM cards. The new design should allow smartphone makers like Apple greater flexibility when designing handsets.

The nano-SIM was a point of controversy earlier this year, when Nokia objected to Apple’s design. The Finnish company argued that the design violated a “no jamming” rule because its length was too similar to the width of current-generation micro-SIMs.

Apple responded in May by slightly adjusting the dimensions of card by adding a small amount of plastic around the edges of the electrical contacts, making the new nano-SIM just long enough so that it can’t be forced lengthwise into an incompatible socket.

Apple’s nano-SIM design was selected by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute in June as the fourth official form factor for the SIM card standard. In July it was said that European wireless operators were placing orders for nano-SIM cards in anticipation of Apple’s next iPhone, but Tuesday’s leak is the first evidence of an official carrier nano-SIM card in the wild.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available as well as full coverage of the upcoming Apple media event on September 12th.