Apple has packed a number of overlooked but important hardware innovations into its latest iPhone model, according to a recent teardown analysis from IHS iSuppli.
The manufacturing analysis firm said that while the early response to the Apple handset pegged it as only a slight upgrade from the iPhone 4, a look at the components being used at the heart of the device unearths some key findings.
"While the iPhone 4S shares many common design elements with the two iPhone 4 models already on the market, the new device’s status as a world phone has resulted in fascinating design and component changes," said IHS senior director of teardown services Andrew Rassweiler.
"Key among these changes is a custom part from Avago that helps give the iPhone 4S its unique capability to be used in multiple wireless systems globally, while still keeping costs down."
Additionally, Rassweiler said the 4S appears to be the first Apple product to make use of NAND memory manufactured by Hynix, a departure from the company's previous reliance on Samsung and Toshiba for memory chips.
Overall, researchers estimate the iPhone 4S carries a total build cost of $196 (£124) for the 16GB model, $215 for the 32GB handset and $254 for a 64GB model. As with previous models, much of the manufacturing cost was due to the handset's display and touchscreen components, which combined for a cost of $37 per unit.
Wireless radio hardware was also a major factor in the manufacturing cost. IHS iSuppli estimates that the wireless components of the iPhone 4S carry a cost of $23.54 per unit. An additional charge of $33 was attributed to what the company classifies as "mechanical/electro-mechanical" components.
The biggest variation in the manufacturing costs was flash memory. The teardown study estimates that the cost of memory chips can run from $19.20 for a 16GB capacity up to $76.80 for the 64GB model.
Overall, researchers found that costs were roughly in line with the iPhone 4, which carried a 16GB materials cost of $188.
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