EL SEGUNDO, USA: Research in Motion Ltd.’s new Torch 9800 smart phone carries a Bill of Materials (BOM) of $171.05 , according to a dissection and cost model conducted by the Teardown Analysis service at iSuppli Corp.
“On the outside, the Torch delivers a rich feature set, with three User Interfaces (UIs): a capacitive touch screen, an optical track pad and the first slider QWERTY keyboard found in a BlackBerry,” said Andrew Rassweiler, principal analyst, teardown services manager, for iSuppli.
“On the inside, the Torch’s electronic design heavily leverages subsystems used in previous members of the BlackBerry smart phone line, specifically the Storm2 and the Bold 9700. With this evolutionary approach, RIM has delivered a smart phone with an enhanced feature set that largely matches those of the BlackBerry’s chief competitors: the iPhone and the Android-based handsets.”
Firsts and seconds
Along with the QWERTY slider keyboard, the Torch delivers a number of other firsts for the BlackBerry line, including the newly rewritten BlackBerry OS 6, as well as Social Feeds, Universal Search and a faster WebKit-based browser. The new BlackBerry smart phone also contains a GPS Integrated Circuit (IC) from CSR plc, the first time iSuppli has seen this new chip in a product teardown.
On the other hand, the Torch’s Radio Frequency (RF), power amplifier and power management subsystems are similar or virtually identical to those of a previous member of the BlackBerry line, the Bold 9700, which had been torn down in the past by iSuppli. In terms of specs and size, the Torch’s display is very similar to that of the BlackBerry Storm2 9550. Further, the Torch employs the same MEMS accelerometer by Analog Devices Inc. used in the Storm2 9550.
The Torch also bears some similarity to smart phones from other brands. Mechanically, it is comparable in complexity and cost to HTC Tilt 2. Likewise, the Torch integrates Texas Instruments Inc.’s WL1271x WLAN/BlueTooth IC, which can be found in products including Motorola Inc.’s Droid X and Microsoft Corp.’s Kin 2.
When adding in an estimated manufacturing cost of $12, the Torch’s combined production and BOM cost amounts to $183.05.
The figure presents a summary of iSuppli’s preliminary Bill of Materials and manufacturing cost estimate for the BlackBerry Torch 9800, broken down by subsystem.Source: iSuppli, USA.
Please note that iSuppli’s teardown assessment accounts only for hardware and manufacturing costs, and does not take into consideration other expenses such as software, licensing and royalties.
The most expensive subsystem in the Torch is the LCD and touch screen display module section, at a price of $34.85, representing 20.4 percent of the product’s BOM, according to iSuppli’s semiconductor costing estimate. The display is a 3.2-inch diagonal TFT LCD with a 480 by 360 pixel resolution.
While it was not possible to identify from a teardown analysis the supplier of the display, RIM in the past has employed displays from Samsung Mobile Display, Toshiba Mobile Display Co. Ltd. and Sharp, according to mobile market research from Vinita Jakhanwal, principal analyst, small/medium displays for iSuppli.
The touch screen uses capacitive technology and includes a Synaptics Inc. controller IC. And although the supplier of an entire module is rarely identifiable from a teardown analysis, the controller IC indicates that Synaptics is a potential supplier of the turnkey solution.
Coming in at a close second in terms of cost is the memory subsystem, at $34.25, amounting to 20 percent of the Bill of Materials. In the individual Torch torn down by iSuppli, Samsung supplied a 4Gbyte eMMC NAND flash memory device, plus an 8Gbit NAND flash and 4Gbit Mobile Double Data Rate (DDR) SDRAM
SanDisk Corp. contributed a 4Gbyte removable Micro SD memory card.
The mechanical/electromechanical portions of the Torch, including the printed circuit boards and the enclosure plastics and metals, came in third at an estimated cost of $23.35, representing 13.7 percent of the Torch’s BOM.
Marvell, Infineon, Renesas light up the Torch
Next on the cost ranking is the applications processor/baseband section at $15, or 8.8 percent of the BOM.
This section is dominated by the communications processor, which features an integrated baseband from Marvell Technology Group Ltd.
Coming in at fifth in terms of cost is the RF transceiver and power amplifier section, at $13.90, or 8.1 percent of the BOM cost. Infineon Technologies AG’s PMB5701 tri-band RF transceiver is featured in the section, along with Renesas Electronics Corp.’s R2A60177BG quad-band RF transceiver and its RPF59001B power amplifier module.
User interface chips
The user interface electronics subsection comes in sixth, at $12.40, or 7.2 percent of the BOM. This section includes STMicroelectronics NV’s STV0987 video/image processor that supports mobile imaging. It also features Texas Instruments Inc.’s TLV320AIC36IZQERaudio codec, CrucialTec Co. Ltd.’s optical trackpad assembly and the Analog Devices 3-axis accelerometer.
Other notable sections include the Bluetooth/WLAN/GPS area, with a price of $10.60 and 6.2 percent share of the Bill of Materials. Components in this subsystem include the Texas Instruments WL1271A single-chip Bluetooth/WLAN/FM transmitter/receiver and the CSR GSD4t-9800 GPS receiver.
Finally, there’s the power management section, at $4.90, or 2.9 percent of the BOM. This subsystem includes the Texas Instruments TPS65856 power management IC.
Source: iSuppli, USA.