Samsung Galaxy S6 teardown shows strategy - Embedded.com

Samsung Galaxy S6 teardown shows strategy

Teardown.com's analyst team has their hands on one of the 10 different models of the flagship phone from Samsung, the Galaxy S6. Our first phone is one of at least two U.S. versions of the Galaxy S6 devices expected to be released this month. Back in mid-February of this year, we heard rumors Qualcomm may have lost its spot in Samsung’s flagship phone. Even at Samsung’s high-energy event at Mobile World Congress, the company would not confirm or deny the rumors. Like (most of) the rest of the world, we were left to “wait and see” if Samsung was about to say good-bye to one of the world’s leading wireless semiconductor manufacturers.

If the rumors were true, we felt we had had hints from our past teardowns as to who Samsung would use in lieu of Qualcomm; we believed Samsung would use their own design — the Samsung Shannon chipset.

Since the waiting left us with idle hands, curious minds, and our 2,000 device library, we went back to look at the mobile devices where we first discovered the Shannon chipset. We found three devices we’d torn down, with a total 10 Shannon IC appearances:

Our data paints a very clear picture of how Samsung has invested in maturing its Shannon architecture and as such has ousted Qualcomm and others as the phone’s core chipset and system architecture. This didn’t come at a cost, but has the potential to disrupt the mobile semiconductor industry with the perennial players like Qualcomm, Broadcom, Texas Instruments and others being left out of key sockets of this likely bestselling device.

(Source: Teardown.com)

(Source: Teardown.com)

But before we jump into the details of Shannon, it wouldn’t be a Galaxy S6 teardown without first comparing it to the market’s mainstay, the Apple iPhone 6.

First and foremost is the cost comparison between these two popular devices. Did Samsung create its flagship device, using many of its own integrated circuits, for less than Apple created the iPhone 6? The answer is no. Based on our teardown costing methodology, the Samsung Galaxy S6 costs approximately $275.50 to produce, while the Apple iPhone 6 bill of materials only adds up to $228. Disregarding the possibility of Samsung Mobile getting preferred pricing from its own semiconductor division, we used our standard costing methodology and processes to determine these estimates.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs. Apple iPhone 6. (Source: Teardown.com)

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs. Apple iPhone 6. (Source: Teardown.com)

For the Galaxy S6, Samsung (finally) moved to an aluminum enclosure, one that at first inspection looks to be on par with the Apple iPhone 6 enclosure we saw last year.  However, the move to a high grade aluminum housing was not the culprit in the higher COGS for the S6. The higher COGS is greatly influenced by Samsung’s implementation of an octa-core processor, a higher pixel count and larger display which uses Samsung’s own Super AMOLED technology, higher resolution cameras, and more RAM. These features accounted for an almost $54 dollar difference between the same features in the iPhone 6.

When we stepped away from our first estimates of the Galaxy S6, it looked to us as if Samsung spared no expense in designing the S6.


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