Galaxy S4 costs US$236 for materials

Matt Hamblen, Computerworld (US)
20 March, 2013
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The new Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone with HSPA+ costs US$236 for materials, up 15% from the equivalent Galaxy S III, according to a virtual teardown by IHS iSuppli released today.

There is an added US$8.50 in manufacturing costs for the HSPA+ GS4 with its 16GB of flash memory. For materials alone, that GS4 is US$30.40 higher than the GSIII.

The GS4′s HD display costs US$75, up from US$65 fpr the previous model, while the Exynos 5 Octa processor in the HSPA+ version costs US$30, compared to US$17.50 for the quad-core Exynos apps processor in the GSIII. The LTE version of the GS4 uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor, priced at US$20. That lower-cost processor reduces the overall materials cost for the LTE version to US$233, down US$3 from the HSPA+ version. However, the LTE wireless radios (covering six global bands) cost US$25, which is higher than the US$16 for the HSPA+ radio and related systems.

Samsung manufactured many of the parts in the GS4, including the display and touchscreen module, as well as the Octa processor and power management circuit and SDRAM and flash memory. All the Samsung components together account for $149 of the hardware in the HSPA+ version, or 63% of the materials.

The virtual teardown was based on specs released by Samsung, combined with information about components and suppliers. The virtual teardown results are preliminary and subject to change pending an actual physical teardown, IHS said.

Vincent Leung, senior analyst at IHS, said that even with the larger HD display, a more powerful Samsung processor and new sensors, the GS4 has roughly the same width and handling ability as the GSIII.

The new display in the GS4 uses a full-HD active-matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) with a pixel format of 1920 x 1080 (up from 1280 x 720 in the GSIII). The GS4 is the first smartphone with an AMOLED display at such high resolution, although there are other smartphones on the market using full-HD LCD displays, according to Vinita Jakhanawal, director for displays at IHS. Higher AMOLED performance drove up the display cost, Jakhanwal said.

The GS4 has a record number of sensors for a smartphone, Leung said. A humidity and temperature sensor and an IR gesture sensor that are new to the GS4 increase the cost by US$16, up from US$12.70 in the GSIII. The GS4 also has an accelerometer, RGB light, e-compass, gyro and a barometer.

Many experts say US carriers will charge US$200 for the GS4 with a two-year contract. An unsubsidised version might cost more than US$650 at retail.

Samsung said the GS4 will be available to major US carriers in the second quarter. Price and availability in Australia is yet to be confrimed.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt’s RSS feed. His email address is

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