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Samsung Galaxy S5 optimises features, ups BOM

17 Apr 2014

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The latest member of Samsung's wildly popular line of Galaxy smartphones ups the ante on features—and on cost—with the S5's discrete-intensive design yielding a high bill of materials (BOM).

The Samsung Galaxy S5 with 32GB of NAND flash memory carries a BOM of $251.52, according to a preliminary estimate by the Teardown Mobile Handsets Intelligence Service at IHS Technology. The cost rises to $256.52 when the $5 manufacturing cost is added.

This is more expensive than other high-end smartphones, such as the 32GB iPhone 5S, which carried a $207 BOM based on an IHS pricing estimate in September. The S5's BOM contrasts even more starkly with smartphones at the lowest end of the cost spectrum, such as two Android devices, the ZTE U793 and K-Touch T619+, which have BOMs of less than $35, according to recent IHS teardowns.

"The high cost of the S5 is becoming more typical of Samsung's flagship Galaxy line," said Andrew Rassweiler, senior director, cost benchmarking services for IHS. "In the last year, IHS has torn down four Galaxy devices with BOMs ranging from $237 to $280.

"The S5 exemplifies a conservative evolutionary design approach," Rassweiler said. "There are no revolutions or giant steps forward in this design. There's a lot of similarity and commonality between the S5 and other recent Samsung smartphones IHS has torn down, such as the Galaxy Round and the Note III. However, there are many small changes throughout the design."

The table attached presents the preliminary BOM and manufacturing cost estimate of the Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone. Note that this teardown assessment is preliminary in nature, accounts only for hardware and manufacturing costs, and does not include other expenses such as software, licensing, royalties or additional expenditures.

A multiplicity of minor mods

Modified component selections in the S5 include the Qualcomm Inc. WTR1625 radio frequency (RF) transceiver. Previous multiple Galaxy products included the WTR1605L instead. This part switch may have been spurred by specific carrier and network requirements.

The S5 also includes a new version of the NXP near-field communication (NFC) controller that's different from the NXP PN5441, PN547 and PN65N devices found in other Samsung teardowns.

Furthermore, the S5 uses the ES704 noise suppression device from Audience Semiconductor, as opposed to eS305B and eS325 seen in several other recent Samsung devices.

Moreover, the latest Galaxy smartphone employs the PMC8974 power management chip from Qualcomm. This is a chip that IHS has never seen in an electronic design, and seems to integrate two or more power-management ICs from Qualcomm that previously were separate.

In one major departure from previous designs, the Galaxy S5 features the first sighting of 802.11ac Wi-Fi with multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) technology. MIMO utilises multiple antennas to improve Wi-Fi signal strength and overall performance.

Although IHS is not yet able to confirm the supplier of the MIMO Wi-Fi module and the underlying silicon supporting this function, we believe that Broadcom is the most likely available semiconductor solution provider. The module is a combo solution that supports both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality.


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