Take a peek under the hood of Samsung’s Galaxy S5 smartphone and it will become clear why the handset carries a heavy bill of materials (BOM) price tag.
Although the Samsung Galaxy S5 with 32-Gigabytes of NAND flash memory doesn’t represent any major technological developments in smartphone design, it has been upgraded with several advanced components, including Qualcomm’s MSM8974AC core processor and PMC8974 power management chip, a MIMO WiFi module, and a fingerprint sensor.
The upgraded design yields a BOM of $251.52, plus another $5 for manufacturing costs, which is significantly more expensive than other high-end smartphones, according to a preliminary estimate by the Teardown Mobile Handsets Intelligence Service at IHS Technology.
For example, the 32GByte iPhone 5S carried a $207.00 BOM based on an IHS pricing estimate in September. The S5’s BOM is also sharply higher than the ZTE U793 and K-Touch T619+ Android smartphones, which carry BOMs of less than $35, according to recent IHS teardowns.
“The high cost of the S5 is becoming more typical of Samsung’s flagship Galaxy line,” said Andrew Rassweiler, senior director, cost benchmarking services for IHS, in an April 15 press release. “In the last year, IHS has torn down four Galaxy devices with BOMs ranging from $237.00 to $280.00."
One of the major cost factors in the Galaxy S5 is the smartphone’s core processor, the Qualcomm MSM8974AC, which carries an estimated cost of $41, according to IHS. However, the MSM8974AC integrates two key parts -- the core applications processor and wireless semiconductor, reducing board space and cost. The MSM8974AC is a variant of the MSM8974, which is used in the Nokia Lumia 1520, Galaxy Round, LG Google Nexus 5, but employs the newer Snapdragon 801 processor with a faster clock speed, at 2.5GHz, compared to 2.3GHz in the MSM8974 with the Snapdragon 800.
The S5 Galaxy smartphone also employs Qualcomm’s PMC8974 power management chip, which has never been seen in an electronic design, according to IHS. Another first IHS pointed to in the Galaxy S5 is an 802.11ac MIMO WiFi module, which supports both WiFi and Bluetooth functionality. Although IHS is not yet able to confirm module’s vendor, it cited Broadcom as the most likely chip provider.
The Galaxy S5 also includes more sensors than IHS has ever detected in a smartphone design.
In addition to an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer, the S5 also includes a barometric pressure sensor, and two new additions: fingerprint and pulse sensors. In fact, the S5 is the first Galaxy smartphone to have a fingerprint sensor, following Apple’s lead with iPhone 5S, according to IHS. The pulse sensor is Maxim Integrated Product Inc.’s MAX86900, which was most likely motivated by consumer and OEM interest in activity monitors and other wearable devices that feature pulse monitoring and other health and vital statistics tracking features, according to IHS.
Minor component modifications to the S5 include Qualcomm’s WTR1625 radio frequency (RF) transceiver compared with the WTR1605L in previous models. It also includes a new version of NXP’s near-field communication controller, and it uses the ES704 noise suppression device from Audience Semiconductor vs. the eS305B and eS325 seen in several other recent Samsung devices.