iPad teardown reveals Apple’s hardware supremacy

August 4, 2011 — Apple Inc.’s iPad has thus far thwarted competitive tablets in design efficiency, according to an IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis of eight tablet models from IHS (NYSE: IHS). Major savings come from Apple’s control of chips like SDRAM and applications processors.

Apple is a vertically integrated manufacturer, creating much of the hardware and software in the iPad, points out Wayne Lam, senior analyst, competitive analysis, at IHS. Apple uses its own applications processor design in the iPad and iPad 2, Lam notes, while other tablets have processors sourced from Nvidia, Texas Instruments and Qualcomm.     

Apple has limited the memory in the iPad 2, with only 512 megabytes (competitive designs use 1 gigabyte) of synchronous dynamic random access memory (SDRAM). This cuts nearly $14 from the iPad bill of materials (BOM) compared to the competition. Because Apple controls the hardware and software of the iPad, it can structure the operating system to use less memory.

Similiarly, the iPad battery is the thinnest of all competing tablet designs, yet has the largest capacity.

The table below presents an overview of the results of the dissection of eight tablet models. Note that the BOM figures accounts only for hardware and manufacturing costs and do not take into consideration other expenses such as software, licensing, royalties or other costs.

Table. Teardown comparison of 8 tablet models (BOM and summary of major components). SOURCE: IHS iSuppli 2011.
  Apple iPad (WiFi) Apple iPad (WiFi + 3G) Samsung Galaxy Tab Motorola XOOM* Apple iPad2 (WiFi + 3G) RIM Blackberry Playbook Asus Eee Pad HP TouchPad
April 2010 April 2010 Sept. 2010 Feb. 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 July 2011
OS iOS 3.x iOS 3.x Android 2.x Android 3.x iOS 4.x QNX Android 3.x WebOS 3.x
9.7 Inch IPS Display w/ Capacitive Multitouch Overlay 9.7 Inch IPS Display w/ Capacitive Multitouch Overlay 7 Inch TFT Display w/ Capacitive Multitouch Overlay 10.1 Inch TFT Display w/ Capacitive Multitouch Overlay 9.7 Inch IPS Display w/ Capacitive Multitouch Overlay 7 Inch TFT Display w/ Capacitive Multitouch Overlay 10.1 Inch IPS Display w/ Capacitive Multitouch Overlay 9.7 Inch IPS Display w/ Capacitive Multitouch Overlay
Apple A4
(Single Core)
Apple A4
(Single Core)
Samsung S5PC110 (Single Core) Nvidia Tegra2
(Dual Core)
Apple A5
(Dual Core)
(Dual Core)
Nvidia Tegra2
(Dual Core)
Qualcomm APQ8060 (Dual Core)
Storage (NAND) 16GB 16GB 16GB 16GB* 16GB 16GB 16GB 16GB
N/A N/A 3MP/1.3MP 5MP/2MP 1MP/VGA 5MP/3MP 5MP/1.2MP 1.3MP
3G Modem N/A Infineon (HSPA) Infineon (HSPA) Qualcomm (EVDO) Infineon (HSPA) / Qualcomm (EVDO) N/A N/A N/A
Battery 6600mAh / 3.75V Dual Cells 6600mAh / 3.75V Dual Cells 4000mAh / 3.7V Single Cell 3250mAh / 7.4V Dual Cells 6930mAh / 3.75V Dual Cells 5400mAh / 3.7V Dual Cells 3300mAh / 7.4V Dual Cells 6000mAh / 3.7V Dual Cells
Sensors eCompass and Accelerometer GPS, eCompass and Accelerometer GPS, eCompass and Accelerometer GPS, eCompass, Accelerometer, Gyro and Pressure GPS, eCompass, Accelerometer and Gyro eCompass, Accelerometer and Gryo GPS, eCompass, Accelerometer and Gyro Accelerometer and Gyro
BOM Cost $268 $320 $262 $330 (w/o LTE module) $310 (HSPA) $271 $284 $318
Retail Price $499 $629 $749 N/A* $629 $499 $399 $499
*Motorla XOOM only comes in 32GB which retails for $799.  We’ve normalized capacity for purpose of this comparitive exercise.
Source: IHS iSuppli Research, Aug 2011

The IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis Service also illustrates the trend toward multi-core processors in tablet designs, price points, and display sizes. Following the introduction of the Motorola Xoom in February and the iPad 2 in March, all new tablet designs within 2011 have included dual-core processors that deliver higher computing and graphical performance. In 2012 IHS expects to see this trend to continue with the introduction of tablets featuring quad-core processors for even more enhanced performance.

Learn more about this topic with IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis Service at http://www.isuppli.com/Teardowns/Pages/Products.aspx.

Also read: Apple’s A5 Processor is by Samsung, not TSMC

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