IHS iSuppli has done a preliminary estimate that shows the iPhone 4S costs $196-250 to make. The most interesting components are the dual band radio and power amplifier.
While there are changes, the iPhone 4S maintains many of the same design elements and components as the iPhone 4 models. One major area that has remained the same is the display and touchscreen section, which together represent the single most expensive subsystem in the iPhone 4S.
Other components that were more or less unchanged include the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/Frequency Modulation (FM) module from Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd. and Broadcom Corp. and the audio codec from Cirrus Logic Inc.
The baseline iPhone 4S model with 16 gigabytes (GB) of NAND flash memory carries a bill of materials (BOM) of $188. When the additional $8 manufacturing cost is added in, the total increases to $196, as presented in the table below. The other iPhone 4S models are identical to the baseline version, with the exception of the addition of more NAND flash. This gives the mid range, 32GB model a BOM of $207, and the high-end 64GB version a BOM of $245.
The wireless section has dual-mode design that supports air standards for all wireless service partners supported by Apple worldwide. It represents a major upgrade from the iPhone 4, which used two separate versions to support the high-speed packet access (HSPA) and code division multiple access (CDMA) wireless networks.
A critical component enabling the worldwide capability of iPhone 4S is the ACPM-7181 converged power amplifier module (PAM) from the previously unheralded supplier Avago.
A PAM is a device that amplifies a radio signal prior to transmission. What makes the converged Avago part unique is its capability to support both 2G and 3G cellular technologies across multiple bands thus reducing the number of components and PC board footprint required. While Avago is by no means the only company supplying these types of devices, it is the first to be implemented by Apple.
Another key device enabling the global wireless capability of the iPhone 4S is the MDM6610 baseband processor from Qualcomm Inc.
In the individual iPhone 4S torn down by IHS, the NAND flash was supplied by South Korean memory manufacturer Hynix. This represents a major design win for the company, with the NAND device accounting for a major portion of the value of the iPhone 4S. Toshiba has also been positively identified as a second source for the NAND in other iPhone 4S samples.
In the 16GB version of the 4S, the memory subsystem costs $19.20, making it the second most expensive single component after the display. However, the cost of the NAND rises to $38.40 in the 32GB version and to $76.80 in the 64GB model, making it the most expensive set of components in the system.
Other new components in the iPhone 4S include the use of a dual core A5 apps processor. Just as with the A4 used in iPhone 4, the part appears to be manufactured by Samsung, based on die markings on the product.
In another change, the camera module in the iPhone 4S features an 8 megapixel camera, compared to a 5 megapixel device used in the iPhone 4. The camera uses a backside illumination (BSI) image sensor that improves photo quality, especially in low light, but also adds cost to the system. Sony was the supplier of the image sensor in the individual model torn down by IHS, but Apple likely is using a secondary source for this device: OmniVision.
Read IHS different iPhone comparisons.