Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, Sony and Samsung are the leading component suppliers to the Palm Pre, researcher iSuppli found during a teardown of the new smartphone.
iSuppli disassembled the Pre in order to see what’s inside, just as it has done with devices such as the BlackBerry Storm and Amazon Kindle 2.
“With the Pre, Palm has made some surprising choices, not only in the phone’s features, but also in its design and component selection,” said Andrew Rassweiler, iSuppli director and principal analyst for teardown services, in a June 10 statement.
iSuppli found that the Pre uses a 3.1-inch, Sony-supplied advanced low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) LCD with a 16-million-color display and a pixel format of 320 by 480.
In The New York Times, David Pogue enjoyed the screen even turned off, writing that it “disappears into a smoky finish, leaving a stunning, featureless talisman.”
According to iSuppli, the pricey LTPS provides a higher resolution and faster response time than the conventional LCDs used in most mobile phones, and fused to the Pre’s touch-screen module, the two are the most expensive aspect of the device, totalling $39.50.
Like the Apple iPhone, the Palm Pre is split into two core spheres; applications are handled by a Texas Instruments OMAP3430 processor, and the wireless interface is run by a Qualcomm MSM6801A processor.
“Most of the so-called -iPhone killers’ iSuppli has torn down keep costs down by having one – and only one – core silicon asset. However, this approach burdens a single processor with multiple functions, degrading performance,” wrote Rassweiler in the statement. “Pre’s two-pronged solution may be more costly, but should yield a superior-performing smartphone.”
Rassweiler was surprised to discover 2GB of SDRAM in two, 1GB dies. iSuppli reports that most smartphones, including the iPhone 3G, incorporate 1GB or less of SDRAM, and that the extra memory is likely needed to enable the Pre to keep several applications open at once – a feature that makes the Pre stand out from the competition.
The key wireless semiconductor in the Pre is a Qualcomm MSM6810A baseband processor, which supports its communications capabilities via CDMA2000 1X and CDMA2000 iX Rev A EV-DO. Qualcomm also supplies two radio frequency chips, the RFR6500 receiver and the RFT 6150 transmitter. All together, Qualcomm contributes $18.45 worth of semiconductor content to the Pre.
The iSuppli team also found it notable that Palm chose a Maxim MAX8695 power management integrated circuit for power management, instead of Qualcomm’s PM6650 chip.
Also interesting was the use of 8GB of Samsung’s eMMC MoviNAND flash memory, rather than the Multi-Level Cell NAND found in most mobile phones. Though the motivation, iSuppli explained in the statement, was clear: “eMMC is a premium variety of NAND flash memory that combines high-density MLC NAND flash with a memory management controller to deliver higher performance and easier integration into electronic designs.”
The flash memory brings Samsung’s contribution to the Pre to $17 worth of materials, though Palm may also turn to Micron, Hynix and SanDisk for eMMC NAND flash solutions, according to iSuppli.
Smaller noteworthy details are that the Pre’s camera uses a fixed lens rather than an auto-focus one; the Murata LAN/Bluetooth module seems to be the same one as in the iPhone; and a proximity sensor can detect the device’s closeness to the user’s face, and so actively dims the screen to save energy.
And finally, instead of using magnets to alert the device when the screen is slid open, the Pre uses an optical sensor, which iSuppli points out might be so as not to interfere with the Touchstone, the Pre’s special (and sold separately) induction-based charger.
The full component breakdown, listed by cost, can be viewed here. iSuppli says its team has been tearing down products for seven years and consists of more than 25 experts from various fields.