Samsung Galaxy S5’s huge BOM indicative of growing demands in performance

The much-hyped Samsung Galaxy S5 ups the ante on both features and cost, reveals the Teardown Mobile Handsets Intelligence Service by IHS.

IHS calculated the Bill of Materials (BOM) of 32 GB Samsung Galaxy S5 as $251.52, excluding the manufacturing cost of $5.00. This, according to the research agency, is much higher than that of similar category of phones like iPhone S5, which carried a $207.00 BOM as per IHS’ estimate in September.

This revelation comes soon after Frost & Sullivan released its findings that Samsung Galaxy S5, like most other big smartphones, fail to impress customers through hardware innovations.

Samsung Galaxy S5, iPhone 5S show smartphones have less in store for hardware innovation

The high BOM exemplifies a conservative evolutionary design approach, according to Andrew Rassweiler, senior director, cost benchmarking services for IHS.

“There are no revolutions or giant steps forward in this design,” Rassweiler added. “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.”

IHS

The cost, when compared with lowest end of smartphones, reveals a stark contrast, says IHS. For example, Android devices such as ZTE U793 and K-Touch T619+ have BOMs of less than $35.

The higher BOM cost of Samsung Galaxy S5  is primarily attributed to its components such as Qualcomm 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, IHS said.

Other major components that contributed for the rise in hardware costs include the new version of the NXP near-field communication (NFC) controller, ES704 noise suppression device from Audience Semiconductor and the PMC8974 power management chip from Qualcomm.

The PMC8974 chip from Qualcomm, according to IHS, is the first in an electronic design, and it seems to integrate two or more power-management ICs from Qualcomm that previously were separate.

The smartphone’s core processor Qualcomm MSM8974AC itself contributes to a higher BOM. The MSM8974AC is a variant of the popular MSM8974 used in a number of mobile products ranging from the Nokia Lumia 1520, to the Galaxy Round, to the LG Google Nexus.

The AC version of Qualcomm processor employs the newer Snapdragon 801 processor, as opposed to the 800 used in the MSM8974. The MSM8974AC with the Snapdragon 801 features a faster clock speed, at 2.5GHz, compared to 2.3GHz in the MSM8974 with the Snapdragon 800. The MSM8974AC carries an estimated cost of $41.00.

In addition to these, Samsung S5 has also added the 802.11ac Wi-Fi with multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) technology. Samsung has also added a fingerprint sensor, Maxim MAX86900, to its Galaxy line.

The above analysis was conducted on the S5 sold in the South Korean market. The device included a television receiver—the FC8080 T-DMB tuner/demodulator from Silicon Motion. The U.S. version is unlikely to include this chip, IHS believes. Furthermore, IHS expects that versions sold by AT&T, Verizon and other global carriers may have other minor modifications.

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