BBC Smartphone Teardown
Last week I filmed a piece for a new BBC One show examining exactly what goes into making the everyday things we take for granted, anything from a latte in our local coffee shop to the trusty smartphone in our hand.
Armed with nothing more than an Apple iPhone 3GS, a screw-driver, a plunger and a spunger tool I set about dismantling the smartphone for the cameras while explaining what each of its internal components was and how much they might cost individually. As a final coup-de-theatre I even managed to put the phone back together again and prove that it still worked (that it did was as much of a surprise to me as it was to the rest of the crew).
I wouldn’t have been able to do this piece at all without the excellent team from iFixit who ritually rip anything and everything apart just for kicks, nor the analysts at IHS iSuppli Market Research who do pretty much the same thing for supply chain reports (and probably for kicks too).
I wanted to share this picture of a mostly dismantled iPhone 3GS:
(Note how here the RF protection has been removed from the logic board revealing the iPhone 3GS ARM Cortex-A8 processor and storage etc, plus the screen and digitiser have also been separated – in reality these are rather tricky to take apart and, given the cost of readily available replacement components, perhaps unnecessary)
In total, we reckoned that a 32GB iPhone 3GS would have cost around £130 for parts and assembly, yet retailed at around £538 (without contract). What our figure doesn’t include is anything that represents Apple’s vast logistics and marketing machinery, its outlets or, significantly, its research and development costs which are sure to add considerably to the unit cost.
I’ll be sure to post up here when I hear about the broadcast date for the show.
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