SAN JOSE, Calif. The iPhone 3GS arrived at Apple retail stores this morning to lighter than previous sales and few surprises for teardown experts who were among the first in the lines.
Technology Analyst Steve Bitton and camera man, Allan Yogasingam were among the first to buy an iPhone 3GS from the Rogers store outside Ottawa to tear down in the Semiconductor Insight labs. The duo found very few people at the flagship store when they arrived at 5:45 am.
"I talked to our man in New York City and he said the lines this morning were about two blocks long versus about ten blocks for the 3G last year," said David Carey, president of teardown specialist Portelligent (Austin).
The third generation iPhone shows "much carryover topologically and component-wise" from previous designs, said Carey. Specifically, Samsung, Infineon and STMicroelectronics continue to supply the applications processor, baseband and accelerometer although the apps CPU and baseband parts are expected to represent significant upgrades.
Skyworks and Triquint continue to be suppliers of GSM and 3G power amplifiers respectively. However the 3GS appears to use a new receiver front-end module integrating SAW and LNA components, Carey said.
"Broadcom's BCM4325, which we've seen in the iPod Touch, is apparently in the iPhone 3GS," said Young Choi, another analyst with Semiconductor Insights. "So, Apple appears to have achieved even more efficient and hence lower cost with a single-chip connectivity solution," he added.
Both Portelligent and Semiconductor Insights are part of TechInsights, the publisher of EE Times.
Meanwhile other teardowns are appearing on the Web. One from the iFixit Web site said the iPhone 3GS has a 1219 mAh battery, six percent larger than the previous handset. It also showed a main board that appears to be a single-sided design.
Another teardown listed Toshiba as one of the NAND flash suppliers, and noted the apps processor is similar in its internals to the TI OMAP 3430 used in the Palm Pre. Carey of Portelligent said Intel's Numonyx also supplied flash in the new iPhone handset.
More details are expected as teardown specialists de-cap the chips inside the iPhone 3GS.
A Reuters story quoted Broadpoint Amtech analyst Brian Marshall saying the iPhone 3GS included "nothing earth-shattering" in hardware. However, he predicted Apple will sell about 5 million iPhones in the quarter, up 32 percent from the previous period, and said exclusive carrier AT&T Inc. could see 1 million activations of the 3GS by the end of the month.
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