Editor's Note: For more insight, view the full videotaped teardown analysis by clicking "Video: Inside iPhone 3G"
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Commack, NY -- Aside from some very surprising component choices in key parts of the up-graded communications section, as well as some software improvements and some basic design tweaks, the old adage 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' has clearly shaped the design of the iPhone 3G, the follow-up to Apple's phenomenally successful launch of the iPhone line of handsets.
"It's incrementalism at play," said David Carey, president of teardown specialist Portelligent. "They learned a bit from their 'Touch' solution and replaced two boards with one."
Instead of trying to reinvent the device, Apple focused on enhancing the user experience and expanding its fan base. It has done this by not only expanding its geographical footprint and speeding up its wireless connection, but also through the iPhone applications development network. Clearly one of the bigger stories behind the 3G launch, the developer program will see Apple providing resources, real-time testing and distribution, to accelerate the delivery of more diverse applications to the consumer.
The success of that program will be determined over the coming months, but for those consumers with an iPhone 3G in hand, there will be little to 'oooh' and 'aaah' about, aside from the 3G data rates, where available.
From the outside, the phone looks very much the same, except for a plastic backing and a move away from a recessed headphone jack to a flush connector. It has the same look and feel and the same 2 Mpixel camera feature. That said, it does add built-in GPS capability and MobileME application software.
Diving Under the Hood, analysts from Portelligent, as well as TechOnline and Semiconductor Insights, were taken aback by the strength of Infineon's wins in the 3G communications portion, as well as the inclusion of TriQuint for three front-end modules.
"Infineon clearly made their mark on this board with four key design wins," said Allan Yogasingam, a TechOnline technology analyst. "And TriQuint really came from left field with their win their modules. I didn't see a single press-release or speculative article hinting at a relationship between the two companies. In today's internet world, that's a tough thing to keep under wraps."
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As previously reported, TriQuint provides three power-amplifier (PA) front-end modules, the first is the TQM676021, which is an integrated 3-V linear UMTS Band 1 power amplifier (PA), duplexer and transmit filter module, with output power detector. It supports HSUPA operation with transmission data-rates up to 10 Mbits/s. Next is the TQM666022, a similar device, but for Band 2 operation. Finally comes the TQM616035 WCDMA/HSUPA PA-duplexer module for Band 5 and 6 (no datasheet available).
Moving up the signal chain, Infineon won big. It supplies the UMTS transceiver, suspected to be the PMB 6952 (UPDATE: this 121-ball BGA is actually a two-chip device, combining a PMB 6272 GSM/EDGE device from the original iPhone and the WCDMA PMB 5701), as well as the baseband processor, which is actually a two-chip module in a single package. The first chip is the X-Gold 208 (PMB 8877), which caters to GSM/GPRS/EDGE waveforms. The second chip is marked the PMB 8802 and is suspected to be the WCDMA/HSDPA accelerator for 3G. While there's still some debate as to whether this combo package with Apple markings may in fact be Infineon's XGold 608 (PMB 8878), which Quirk and Yogasingam expected to see, that chip has as yet not become available to verify under Semiconductor Insights' microscope.
In any case, that it's broken into two chips is surprising," said Carey, given that both Nokia and Qualcomm have integrated both functions it into a monolithic die. However, there may be more to the decision than design choice. "We suspect the second die has something to do with one of the InterDigital patents," said Yogasingam, referring to an Apple, InterDigital patent agreement last year.
The baseband's support memory comes courtesy of Numonyx, the Intel/STMicro spin-off. It includes 16 Mbytes of NOR flash and 8 Mbytes of pseudo-SRAM (PF38F3050M0Y0CE).
Rounding out the communications function is the Skyworks SKY77340 824- to 915-MHz quad-band GSM/EDGE amplifier module, the same part used in the original iPhone.