iPhone Unpacked

by: Andrew Schmitt

It was only hours after the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone went on sale that the first device teardowns appeared. The shortest but most comprehensive can be found here.

Here’s what we have, well summarized by Barron’s:

• Samsung-produced NAND Flash memory, as well as a Samsung-produced ARM processor.
• A Wolfson Electronics audio chip.
• A Linear Technology (NASDAQ:LLTC) USB Power Li-Ion Battery Charger.
• A Marvell (NASDAQ:MRVL) WiFi chip.
• A Skyworks (NASDAQ:SWKS) GSM/Edge Power amplifier.
• A CSR Bluetooth chip.
• An Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) NOR Flash memory chip.
• A Broadcom (BRCM) I/O controller.
• A Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN) power management chip.

Apple clearly did some groundbreaking R&D on the software side of the product. I’m curious as to whether they spent as much time on the above components, or if they simply outsourced the hardware R&D, leaving the radio work to someone more experienced.

Much is being made of the ‘wins’ of the above suppliers. If Apple was smart, they built a device where their customization touched the fewest components possible, namely the Samsung processor.

I was surprised the NAND was not integrated in the ARM processor. We know from the iPod Nano that Samsung has this capability. My guess is that this was first gen. and risk was already at a premium. Looks like Apple and Samsung are getting along well. It’s ironic that Samsung, the only phone maker with a prayer of matching Apple’s design prowess in mobile phones, is also a supplier of silicon.

I bet that iPhone 2.0, aside from having 3G (the deal killer for me) will be more integrated at the silicon level. But not integrated to the point where Apple loses leverage on their vendors.

I don’t write a lot of email on the go, though I do read and surf. I use a Blackberry Pearl and like it. The iPhone looks perfect. The thing I hate most about the Blackberry is EDGE data rates, so dropping $600 on an iPhone doesn’t address my pain point. Call me when this thing has 3G and can sync to iTunes over the network.