Apple Bulks Up Components in iPhone 6s Plus: Report

IHS' teardown analysis of an iPhone 6s Plus shows that Apple is adding $16 more in components than it built into the iPhone 6 Plus.

iPhone 6s Plus

Apple's latest iPhone 6s Plus incorporates $16 more in upgraded parts than its predecessor, the iPhone 6 Plus, as the company packs more performance and features into the devices, according to a teardown analysis conducted by research firm IHS.

IHS, which reported its analysis of components in the iPhone 6s Plus on Sept. 29, by IHS, said that a price list of parts alone in the devices totals about $231.50 for a version with 16GB of NAND flash memory internal storage.

The price of the same iPhone 6S Plus rises to $236 when manufacturing costs are added in, the research continued. That compares with the unsubsidized $749 price for a 16GB iPhone 6S Plus.

Andrew Rassweiler, senior director of cost benchmarking services for IHS Technology, told eWEEK that the physical teardown of the latest iPhone showed that, even when the devices look the same from year to year, the internal parts can be quite different in each iteration.

"Inside the phones, they [are] always totally different, and that's always interesting to us," said Rassweiler. "When you open it, everything is different. All of the components have changed. You're always getting a totally new iPhone each time, even if it looks the same outside."

What was surprising about the $16 increase in components in the latest phone, he said, is that typically Apple's budget for devices stays inside a narrow range. "It tends to be flat," he said of the company's device budgets overall. "So when we see a jump on component costs, we ask ourselves if that's a general trend."

Competitors, including Samsung, typically raise the component costs in their devices each time they update a model, said Rassweiler. "Samsung with its Galaxy line has been increasing its costs every year. In the case of Apple, I was a little surprised because their modus operandi says to maintain the device budget" each time. "In this case, they definitely seem to be spending more."

Part of the cost increases are for a more powerful A9 processor and for the phone's new taptic engine components, he said. Apple's new 3D Touch also adds to the cost. Other improvements include stronger chassis components, improved built-in wireless modems, upgraded cameras and extended battery performance, according to IHS.

Apple's new iPhones went on sale on Sept. 25. The iPhone 6s includes a 4.7-inch display, while the 6s Plus has a 5.5-inch display, both of which are wrapped in a new stronger cover glass. Both new phones are built around Apple's fastest smartphone chip, the A9, which is a third-generation 64-bit chip.

The cameras on the latest devices received a major upgrade with the addition of an all-new 12MP iSight camera that has 50 percent more pixels than earlier devices. Both phones also are now capable of 4K video, run on iOS 9 and include new 5MP FaceTime HD front cameras.

Other iPhone 6s updates include a new feature called 3D Touch that adds new input capabilities for users to help them get the most out of the devices. 3D Touch is the latest generation of Apple's established multi-touch input system. It not only recognizes familiar gestures, but also the amount of force being provided by a user on the screen.

Prices for the iPhone 6s will start at $199 on a two-year contract for a 16GB model and rise to $399 for a 128GB version. Prices for the iPhone 6s Plus will start at $299 for a 16GB model and reach $499 for a 128GB version.

Apple has also unveiled a new iPhone Upgrade Program that will allow customers to pay a monthly rate for their devices, starting at $32 per month for 24 months, and allow them to get a new model each year.