Early Apple iPhone 4 Teardown Sparks Superlatives

An Apple iPhone 4 that had the bad luck of falling in with the folks at iFixit and Chipworks was promptly torn apart - and oohed and ahhed over. Apple's integration of the iPhone 4's multiple antennas, for example, is called "a work of genius."

The Apple iPhone 4 is finally less than a day away from its official June 24 debut. After months of speculation leading up to a June 7 introduction, a harried day of preorders for Apple and AT&T, and early reports that the smartphones have indeed begun shipping, how better to celebrate getting one's hands on the most sought-after piece of technology on the planet than by tearing it apart?
That's what the folks at iFixit have done, in cooperation with Chipworks, for your viewing pleasure. The verdict? Quite a bit of gushing and no shortage of superlatives.
Chipworks calls the iPhone 4 "amazingly cool" and its semiconductor innovation "truly amazing." iFixit, describing the way that Apple chose to integrate the iPhone 4's UMTS, GSM, GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth antennas into a stainless steel inner frame, writes that the design "can only be described as a work of genius."
So, good stuff, then.
Other findings on the iFixit end: The iPhone 4 uses a 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 core, like the iPad. The phone's 3-axis gyroscope appears to be designed and manufactured by ST Micro. There are chips on board from Broadcom, Cirrus Logic, Numonyx, Samsung, ST Micro, Skyworks, Texas Instruments and TriQuint. And while the iPhone 3G S features 256MB of RAM, with the iPhone 4 Apple made the jump - like some expected it might with the iPad, though it didn't - to 512MB of RAM. A celebrated move.
At Chipworks, they found that the iPhone 4 has its touch-screen controller in common with Apple's iTouch and Magic Mouse. And while a full teardown of the iPhone 4's image sensor module is yet to come, for now Chipworks has disclosed that the 5-megapixel camera on the smartphone's back side comes as a win for OmniVision - and anyone purchasing the device.
"Image sensors is one of the most hotly contested markets with over 20 players competing for multiple applications," states Chipworks. "This competition has resulted in significant innovation in a CMOS-based technology that only a few years ago was the poor sister of CCD technology. Therefore, these devices are not only interesting on a competitive basis, but are great demonstrators of semiconductor innovation."
Chipworks was also impressed with how Apple combined the ST Micro gyroscope with an accelerometer, thought to be the work of the same manufacturer. (iSuppli has separately reported that Apple's inclusion of the gyroscope is expected to have enormous, positive consequences on that industry.)
"By combining the two sensor types the iPhone provides a level of sensitivity and accuracy to translate pretty much any motion into an electrical signal," wrote Chipworks. "We can't wait for the -iPitch' app to allow budding young baseball pitchers to measure the forces on their curve balls by whipping their iPhones into home plate."
On second thought, it's likely best to leave the iPhone whipping, and tearing down, to the experts.
Come June 24, the Apple iPhone 4 will be available at Best Buy, Radio Shack and Wal-Mart stores, as well as AT&T retail locations - where AT&T has said it will have a few devices on hand for walk-in customers.