A closer look at the Qualcomm MSM8960 (click on image to enlarge).
Other major design wins for Qualcomm include the PM8921 power management IC, found in such devices as the Galaxy S3 LTE and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, and the RTR8600 multi-mode transceiver and GPS, also found in the Galaxy S3 LTE and the fourth generation iPad. Also found in the BlackBerry Z10 is Qualcomm’s WCD9310 audio codec. This relatively new device was also found in the Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE. It should be noted that these design wins underscore Qualcomm’s continued prominence in the smartphone component space and highlights the impressive run the San Diego communications component manufacturer has been on in scoring major design wins in globally-successful smartphones and tablets.
Speaking of Samsung, the Korean giant supplies a few key components for the BlackBerry Z10. Memory for the newest BlackBerry (a 16GB model) prominently featured Samsung components on the main handset PCB. Samsung provided both the system memory, in the form of 2 gigabytes of low-power DDR2 SDRAM, and the usable memory with a multichip memory package labeled KLMAG2GE4A that houses 16 GB of MLC NAND flash and a memory controller.
Another interesting note is that Texas Instruments, a once-prominent partner of RIM/BlackBerry, now finds itself with very few design wins within the BlackBerry Z10. TI’s biggest socket win is the WL1273L – a single-chip radio incorporating 802.11a/b/g/n WLAN, Bluetooth, and FM. Qualcomm has TI out.
Other design winners include TriQuint [ for its TQP6M9017 dual-band WLAN module, RF Micro Devices—which provides the linear power amplifier modules that facilitate multi-mode communications like LTE—and Avago, with two power amplifiers (ACPM-5017 and ACPM-7051). Synaptics’ Clearpad 3203 is the capacitive touchscreen controller for the BlackBerry Z10.
The BlackBerry Z10 is also NFC-ready, as we discovered Inside Secure’s SecuRead IC5C633I4 NFC solution module. This component was also found in the LTE version of the Playbook.
All in all, the BlackBerry Z10 seems to incorporate many of the component selections of the Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE. It’s not certain if these decisions the designers made on what semiconductors, ICs and other modules to use were by design or by accident. But based on the relative success of the Samsung Galaxy S3, it isn’t a bad model to draw from.
It remains to be seen if a name change and a new product philosophy will make an impact in the smartphone market with its established leaders Samsung and Apple. However, it is a positive step forward that BlackBerry now has handsets that can compete at the software and hardware level with the best handsets the industry has to offer.
Allan Yogasingam is a technical research manager at UBM TechInsights, owned by the same company that publishes EE Times, UBM plc.
Click through the following pages for a step-by-step look at the BlackBerry Z10 teardown.