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iPhone 5 'geometrically more complex' than older Apple smartphones, says expert

Gregg Keizer | Sept. 26, 2012
The iPhone 5 is "geometrically more complex" than Apple's previous smartphones, a teardown expert at IHS iSuppli said today after taking apart the company's newest device.

The move is reminiscent of the introduction of the iPhone on Verizon in February 2011, when, like now, it was forced to field two different hardware platforms.

iSuppli today also stuck to its preliminary estimate of the iPhone 5's "bill of materials," or BOM -- the total cost to Apple of the components used to assemble the smartphone.

The entry-level 16GB iPhone 5, said iSuppli, has a BOM of $199. With an estimated $8 in manufacturing costs, the total came to $207, a figure that doesn't include research and development, software, licensing and royalty fees, or marketing. At $207, the iPhone 5 is 5.6% more expensive to Apple than the iPhone 4S was last year.

The 32GB iPhone 5's total of $217 was 1% greater than the same iPhone 4S model, but the 64GB iPhone 5, at $238, was 6% less than the corresponding iPhone 4S.

Apple was able to keep the BOMs low, even with the debut of new LTE parts and the larger screen, because its memory costs have dropped between 46% and 49%, depending on the storage configuration, since the launch of the iPhone 4S.

"Beyond some of the high-profile changes that bring obvious benefits in performance and features, there are myriad upgrades and enhancements to virtually every component and subsystem in the iPhone 5," said Andrew Rassweiler, iSuppli's senior principal analyst of teardown services, in a statement Tuesday.

Lam again called out LTE as the biggest Apple achievement in the iPhone 5.

Apple's selection of the LTE frequency bands to support makes it a "kingmaker," said Lam. "No one has created a phone that has supported five bands," he added. "Apple is going to drive LTE."

 

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