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Qualcomm ICs dominate Amazon's Fire Phone

29 Jul 2014  | Joel Martin

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Amazon's Fire Phone is sold at $649 apiece, but a Teardown analysis shows that the new smartphone costs around $209 to build.

Qualcomm is the primary provider of many of the key integrated circuits, and both Invensense and OmniVision are noted for their role in delivering Amazon's Dynamic Perspective display technology.

Based on our analysis and costing, this phone is on par with many competitors from a technology design and premium pricing perspective. The phone's price (and bill of materials cost) is in-line with competitors like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Apple iPhone 5S.

Amazon has undoubtedly invested heavily in software features that are not included in this BOM costing estimate, most notably the software behind the Dynamic Perspective display feature. To understand the inner workings of the hardware needed to support this new feature, Teardown.com looks inside at the design and chipsets needed to enable this high-performance phone and the new experience it promises the mobile phone market.

Amazon's Fire Phone enters the mobile market from AT&T (a similar strategy applied by Apple in 2007) and through direct sales via Amazon.com. Just like the first iPhone, and those that have followed since, the Teardown.com team has wasted no time analysing the Fire Phone to discern what choices the vendor made from a design, technology, assembly, and chipset perspective to bring its flagship device to market.

But before we jumped into the Fire Phone we had to test the Dynamic Perspective feature. While it is true the Dynamic Perspective cannot really be viewed in a still photo of the display, our teardown team did their best to capture photos of the hardware, which delivers the 3D-like experience.

 Four cameras are responsible for tracking the user's face

Figure 1: Four cameras are responsible for tracking the user's face. Each of these relies on an infrared LED (these are seen as little purple lights in the next photo) and input from a single accelerometer/gyro IC, the Invensense MPU-6500 Six-Axis (Gyro + Accelerometer) MEMS.


Into the Fire Phone—design wins

From a hardware and chipset perspective the Amazon Fire is no slouch. Teardown.com's team was encouraged to see that the design choices used to enable many of the features needed to compete in a connected world were chosen from a stable of many vendors' premium product lines.

At the heart of the Fire Phone is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 Application and Baseband processor running at 2.2GHz with 2GB of LDDR3 RAM; this includes 32GB of storage, support for LTE (as well as GSM and W-CDMA cellular modes), and Wi-Fi 802.11a/n/ac. Teardown.com notes Qualcomm scored big in the design wins in the Amazon Fire Phone besting Broadcom in the combo Wi-Fi chip space.

The following table captures a complete list of the key integrated circuit design wins in the Amazon Fire Phone.

 key integrated circuit design wins

Table 1: Key integrated circuit design wins


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