With the recent launch of the iPhone 3GS, many are curious as to exactly what makes up the guts of the new device and what it costs Apple to build it. A recent teardown by industry analyst iSuppli reveals the iPhone 3GS, while at first glance is very similar to its predecessor, actually includes some unique changes to the hardware. According to the research, the total cost of the new iPhone 3GS 16GB is about $179, which is only $5 more than the previous generation 8GB model when it was released around this time last year.
Of course, when comparing this figure to the cost of the new iPhone, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t include what Apple charges carriers, which subsidize the price to the end user in exchange for signing new contracts. Additionally, this figure is for the cost of the device itself, and does not include packaging or other accessories included in the box.
From a hardware perspective, there are a few new changes, including the replacement of two separate chips (one for Wi-Fi and another for Bluetooth) and with a newer, single-chip solution. The new “digital compass” is composed of the existing accelerometer and a new azimuth sensor by AKM Semiconductor. The accelerometer allows the device to determine the iPhone’s orientation, while the azimuth sensor allows the device to determine its location in relation to magnetic north. The processor in the 3GS has also been bumped to 600MHz, up from the 532MHz processor found in the iPod touch and the 412MHz processor found in the previous-generation iPhone 3G. The new iPhone 3GS processors are, according to FCC filings, capable of higher speeds (in the 800MHz range) but have been clocked lower, likely for better battery performance.
Another interesting item to note is that the flash memory, displays, touchscreen assemblies and processors are still the most expensive components of the device. According to the breakdown by iSuppli, these were primarily manufactured by Samsung and Toshiba. However, keep in mind that Apple does source displays and memory from several vendors, which could skew these figures slightly.