So much hoopla, followed by so much disappointment – this mars Apple’s debut of the iPhone 4S. Appearances can be deceptive, though. What has changed inside may not be visible from without. So let us have a look at the guts of the iPhone 4S and see what has changed in Apple’s partnerships by what has been swapped out in its components.
Apple has recovered from the drop in shares by more than $20 on October 4th, but that was simply the evidence of ignorant consumer confidence based on appearances. Apple has been conducting revisions of its partnerships behind the scene. With estimates of 81 million iPhone 4S’ to be sold next year, this is not a trifling issue.
Intel has been nearly wiped out of the Apple picture and replaced by Qualcomm. It tried to buy its way in by purchasing Infineon, which made wireless chips that were contracted by Apple. Before Intel bought the chip manufacturer, Apple used a $10 per phone chip. After the buyout, Apple dropped to a $0.50 per phone chip. Qualcomm is top dog now at $14-15 per phone.
As a response to the patent fights with Samsung, Apple’s regular supplier of memory chips and one of the costliest component in the phone, Apple has contracted with Samsung’s competitor, Hynix Semiconductor. However, the iPhone still bears the A5 processor manufactured by Samsung. Rumor has it that Apple will soon shift the A5 manufacturing contract to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.
Apple acquired two chip designing companies, PA Semi and Intrinsity, in 2008 and 2010. Then they set out to designing the A5 in-house in 2010 for the iPhone and iPad. In the iPhone 4S, some tasks have been shifted to the processor, which indicates a superior chip. For example, while the iPhone 4 contained a separate chip for noise cancellation, made by Audience Semiconductor in Mountain View California, the iPhone 4S has the function managed by the A5 itself. The iPhone 4S has no separate chip for noise cancellation.
Triquint Semiconductor, which supplies wireless transmitting chips to Apple, has seen a loss in the value of its chips. However, another firm, Avago Technologies, experienced a jump in their chips’ values. A European firm, STMicroelectronics, has maintained its ground as the provider of the gyroscope chip that determines the orientation of the phone. The screen is rotated based on the information provided by this chip and is especially useful for games, photos, and videos. Other companies that kept their footing in their relationships with Apple include AKM Semiconductor with the compass chip and Texas Instruments with its display control and audio chips.
There is a mystery company, though. Apple has gone to great lengths to conceal the identity of the manufacturer of the 8MP camera. Apple has done this before, so it comes as no surprise. It is either Omnivision or Largan. It cost Apple $17.60 to add the camera. The CMOS image sensor is from Sony, so it might be a Sony camera or a camera manufacturer who uses a Sony sensor. Barron’s reported that there is a difference of opinion, with one side claiming the camera contract was partitioned between Omnivision and Sony.
Image Credit: iFixit