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Date: 16-03-17

Smart Phone Bill of Materials (BoM) – Electronic Components and Suppliers List

Every smartphone hit the market promising to offer the users a superior experience. The modern-day mobile devices are much powerful and capable of fulfilling most of the computing demands. A smartphone can do all the things PCs, DVD players, digital cameras, GPS navigation devices, camcorders, MP3 players, and many more can. Hence, the global smartphone market has reached four billion in 2016 and is expected to reach six billion by 2020.

Tablets have replaced the need for a notebook while large size smartphones (phablets) are replacing the tablets. The technology advancement in semiconductor chips, speeder networks, larger screen sizes, better battery life and manufacturing strategies designed for scalability - all have collectively contributed towards the rapid growth in the smartphone market.

Smartphone Hardware Ecosystem – Is it Complex?

Users these days of multi-tasking, people expect smartphones to suffice their wide requirements. The growing demand require smartphone to perform better in terms of computing power (especially for entertainment purposes), extended battery life, slimmer design, and feature-rich capabilities. On the other hand, mobile phone  manufacturers (OEMs) have to overcome the hurdles like, RF design challenges, space constraints (for small form-factor designs), low power consumption, competitiveness, and above all the cost-factor.

More than the system and circuit design challenge, it is the task of identifying the sources of various semiconductor SoC chip and other component vendors to create the Bill of Materials (BoM) for your smart phone design is critical, and time consuming process.  Often, the designers are in a dilemma to choose the best-fit components available from various suppliers in order to develop innovative products. Though the semiconductor IC and other components selection may appear straight forward, they are certainly tricky and tedious. Overall for a smart-phone design,  the BOM data is as important as ready reference designs with schematic circuit diagram. 

For example:

a. Dominant smart phone design choices: System-on-chip (SoC ) IC can be attractive because of their low cost and faster time-to-market. Alternatively, modules are expensive and provide the benefit of intellectual property (IP) privacy.

b. Competitive advantage: Users always expect ‘something new’. Designing innovative features and selecting appropriate components require smarter engineering work. Also, it’s of paramount importance to keep a tab on the BoM cost...etc.

Electronic Component Categories (hardware features) in a Smartphone:


On an average, a smartphone BOM contains ~40 different categories, around 300-500 key components and sub-assemblies, and breaking down these further the number gets closer to 2000.

The component cost (BoM cost) to design and build a smart phone depends upon the individual smart phone OEM. As reflected earlier, each smart phone supplier tries to capture the market by offering a product that is better / superior in one or few aspects over the nearest competitor. For example, one vendor spends more on camera features while the other on memory features and few on processing capabilities. The market has been distributed among the vendors depending on their design capabilities and innovations.

Based on analysis done by EMITT Solutions, most of the smartphone vendors spend more on memory, display, user-interface/sensors and housing/mechanicals respectively.

So, it’s a trade-off between the market segment, cost, and competitive-edge that drives the smart phone design and so is the selection of appropriate components from the preferred list of suppliers.

Search Globally, Land Locally

Designers face difficult times and moreover it’s time-consuming to keep track the growing number of potential suppliers. In many practical scenarios, we might have come across a situation where we start searching globally but land locally to identify and procure the nearest matching component. Sometimes, there are drawbacks of consuming more time, efforts and cost in this method which can be minimised. Component engineer’s imbibed skills come in handy here to help engineers develop efficient, innovative, and affordable designs.

Smartphone Design Challenges:

1. Battery performance is the least satisfying aspect, says our market survey.

2. Slim form factor: The smartphone thickness was 10 mm in 2010, reduced to 6.1 mm in 2014 and now it is around 4.75 mm. Component manufacturers are continuing to develop ultra-miniature components.

3. Smartphone sizes are diversified to meet diverse customer needs. Hence OEMs are covering both, high-end and low-end smartphones.

4. Time-to-market is critical: 172 models were released in 2010 and 733 in 2014 (approximately 2 new models everyday). Whether OEMs prefer chipset design or use module-based circuits, the product development cycle time remains crucial.

5. Backlight of the LCD panel in a smartphone accounts for ~40% of the device’s total power consumption. Ambient light sensor (ALS) are now predominantly used in the smartphones.

6. Weightless: The weight of smartphones was ~208 gms in 2004, but inspite of added functionalities and modules, the weight now is around 113 to 150 gms.

In addition to the above challenges, there are many more such requirements or considerations such as integrated memory, multiband-multimode support, global compatibility, power efficiency, superior intelligence, design flexibility, low cost, innovative features, enriched multimedia experience, etc., to make.

Smartphones at a glance:

Year

Smartphone OEM

Notes

1994

IBM Simon

Worked only in the USA

1996

Nokia Communicator

 

1999

Qualcomm’s pdQ smart phone

Featured a Palm PDA with internet connectivity

 

2000

Ericsson R380

First device to use Symbian OS

2002

Sony Ericsson P800

One of the first camera phones

2003

The Blackberry ‘Quark’ family

With integrated voice calling

2007

Apple’s iPhone

First commercial smart phone to use finger input as a main means of interaction instead of a keypad or a keyboard.

2008

HTC Dream

First to run the Linux-based Android OS; further developed by Google (G1)

2010

Apple’s iphone 4 and Samsung Galaxy 5

 

2010

Microsoft

First smart phones running on Windows OS

2011

Motorola’s Razr

 

2016

Key smart phones: Google Pixel XL, Samsung Note 7, OnePlus 3/3T, iPhone 7, Moto Z and Moto Mods, LG G5, Xiaomi Mi MIX, etc.,


Leading Smartphone Vendors include Samsung, Apple, Huawei, OPPO, Vivo, Lenovo, LG, HTC, Xiaomi, ZTE, Sony, Micromax, Asus, Motorola, RIM, and OnePlus. To give some more market data  By 2017, over a third of the world’s population is projected to own a smartphone, an estimated total of ~2.6 billion smartphone users in the world. The vendor ranking is also changing as the market grew.  Nokia was the leading smartphone vendor from 2007 to 2010 and Samsung occupied top position in 2011 and still continuing.

The full BOM analyis report is available from EMITT Solutions with list of critical components and their suppliers for designing smartphones. This list has the potential to save huge amount of time and cost incurred in component selection for smartphones. Visit http://www.emittsolutions.com/section/market-analysis/smart-phone-design-bom.html for more details of the report.

 

 

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