Nokia designed the N8, its newest flagship smartphone, with hopes of re-launching itself as a top contender whose devices can again compete with the market’s strongest offerings-namely the Apple iPhone and high-end Android-running handsets from HTC, Motorola and Samsung. While consumers have yet to loudly weigh in on the N8, a teardown analysis by iSuppli found it to be on par with the iPhone 4-at least when it comes to billing.
The hardware BoM (bill of materials) for the N8 totals $187.47, by iSuppli’s estimate. In June, iSuppli found the 16GB iPhone 4 to total $187.51. (Add in manufacturing costs, however, and the N8 jumps to $196.97.)
“The N8’S BoM shows Nokia is targeting the product squarely at the touch-screen smartphone segment now dominated by the iPhone,” iSuppli Director Andrew Rassweiler said in a statement. “Although the two phones differ markedly in key areas, including the camera and the core silicon, both are designed to hit similar production cost budgets.”
At 12 megapixels, the camera-called “a honker” by iFixit, during its teardown – is one of the N8’s most notable features. According to iSuppli, it’s the third most costly subsystem on the device, at $31.08, though the number-one difference between the N8 and the iPhone 4. While Apple chose a 5-megapixel camera, Nokia went with a CMOS sensor, as well as a secondary VGA resolution model and a Xenon flash unit, more typically seen on a traditional digital camera. Most smartphones, says iSuppli, use white LED lights to help in low-light conditions, which apparently works but is far from ideal.
“The 12-megapixel resolution represents the leading edge of camera resolution in handsets, and the N8 is the first smartphone model iSuppli has torn down with such an advanced image sensor,” Rassweiler said. “Apple has never regarded the camera module as a key differentiating feature on iPhones, and has always spent its budget elsewhere within the design. Clearly, Nokia wants the N8 to be distinguished in this aspect.”
Another differentiator between the devices-and the most costly bit, at $39.25-is the N8’s display and capacitive touch screen. While the iPhone 4 features a 3.5-inch LCD with advanced low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) and in-place switching (IPS) technology, reports iSuppli, the N8’s 3.5-inch display instead uses AMOLED (active matrix organic light emitting diode) technology.
iSuppli reports that the display, commonly used by Android-running smartphones, was provided by Samsung.
The N8’s second most-expensive subsytem is its memory. Unlike Apple, which uses conventional NAND, the N8 reportedly uses a “variant of NAND flash memory known as Embedded MultiMediaCard (eMMC),” which is slightly more expensive and combines memory components with interface circuitry and a controller. In the N8 that iSuppli tore down, the eMMC was provided by Toshiba.
Lastly, tallying fourth from the top, is the N8’s media and baseband processing subsystem, at $37.12. Included are a digital baseband processor IC manufactured by Texas Instruments and a Broadcom multimedia chip – the first of its kind iSuppli has seen in a teardown. The latter features HD support and includes the HDMI technology for 720p-format video.
The least expensive item on the N8’s BoM is its battery, at $3.95. The user interface, which includes the e-compass and accelerometer, was priced at $4.89, while Bluetooth, WLAN and GPS connectivity bits were together priced at just under $10.
The N8 began shipping from factories in Finland and China Sept. 30, though it isn’t expected to be available from U.S. retailers until late October.