iPhone 4S first with 5-lens autofocus camera, other component changes

October 17, 2011 — In its iPhone 4S teardown, IHS (NYSE:IHS) found "key changes" in the iPhone components. Jim Morrison, product manager at Chipworks, called the iPhone 4S "something of a hybrid" of the iPhone 4 and iPad 2, in his teardown analysis.

Notably, the iPhone 4S uses a 5-lens camera module, which is a first encountered in a smartphone during a IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis. The 4S camera module is an autofocus device with an 8-megapixel (MP) resolution, compared to 5MP in the iPhone 4 models. Like the iPhone 4, the 4S employs backside illumination (BSI) technology.

Attend the free, on-demand webcast: Lens Tilt in Small Auto-Focus Cameras from DigitalOptics Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tessera Technologies.

The apps processor is the same dual-core A5 seen in the iPad 2, says IHS, likely along with the same SDRAM memory configuration at 4 Gigabits (Gb). Low memory density is evidence of Apple’s software + hardware efficiency approach to device design, IHS points out. Chipworks is investigating if the A5 is still made by Samsung, or if it has moved to TSMC for 40nm low-power production.

Chipworks is posting de-capsulated die-level images of the iPhone 4S components at http://www.chipworks.com/en/technical-competitive-analysis/resources/recent-teardowns.

A cellular radio makes the iPhone 4S a "true world phone," said Wayne Lam, senior analyst at IHS. iPhone 4S merges the HSPA and CDMA radio capabilities found separately in the two previous iPhone 4 models into a single product that can address global wireless networks. No other handset OEM produces a single device for multiple operators and for multiple geographies on this scale, making the phone operational with AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint carriers. Changes to the radio design include the use of an updated Qualcomm baseband processor, the MDM6610.

The baseband processor is now discrete, no longer integrated with the RF transceiver (which is a dual-mode Qualcomm RTR8605). The IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis Service has seen this RF set-up in other handset designs, such as the Hewlett-Packard Veer and HTC Thunderbolt.

The 4S also likely makes use of three different power amplifier module (PAM) module suppliers: Avago, Skyworks and TriQuint, a jump from the iPhone 4 CDMA version where only Avago appeared. Both Skyworks and TriQuint were featured in the HSPA/GSM version of the iPhone.

See IHS’s table of iPhone 4S components here.

IHS iSuppli soon will reveal the results of its full physical teardown that will provide actual data on iPhone 4S components and features. IHS (NYSE: IHS) provides research and analysis on energy and power; design and supply chain; defense, risk and security; environmental, health and safety (EHS) and sustainability; country and industry forecasting; and commodities, pricing and cost. Learn more at www.ihs.com.

Chipworks provides reverse engineering and patent infringement analysis of semiconductors and electronic systems. Learn more at www.chipworks.com, or read Chipworks Real Chips by blogger Dick James.

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