iPhone 5s/5c estimated to cost $199/$173 to build

iPhone 5c (blue, iFixit teardown 004)

Following iFixIt’s ritual teardown of Apple’s new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c and a detailed chip analysis of the former by Chipworks, research firm IHS Suppli ran their spreadsheets to guesstimate just how much Apple may be paying for the parts.

According to a research note, the pricier top-of-the-line iPhone 5s commands a bill of material of $199.

Its polycarbonate plastic brother costs less to build, with part costs pegged at $173. The full breakdown is right after the break…

AllThingsD has managed to get hold of the IHS iSuppli report a day early.

The crux:

According the findings of an IHS report coming tomorrow (but shared with AllThingsD today), Apple spends at least $191 on components to build a 16-gigabyte iPhone 5S.

The cost rises to $210 for a 64 GB unit. The cost of assembly adds another $8 per unit, bringing the range to between $199 and $218.

These costs only cover parts and assembly and exclude manufacturing, distribution, advertising, packaging, research and development, royalties and licenses and so forth.

As you know, Apple sells the unsubsidized iPhone 5s for $649 to $849, depending on storage capacity. The off-contract iPhone 5c is a $549/$649 value for 16/32GB model. Despite charging an extra $200 for a 16-to-64GB storage bump, in reality the extra flash storage sets Apple back just $19.

The iPhone’s four-inch Retina display assembly costs a whopping $41 in parts.

Other cost-saving measures, according to iSuppli:

Apple seems to be spending a lot of time and money combining RF chips. Where other phone companies would be using whatever chips its various vendors sell off-the-shelf, Apple seems to be pushing its RF suppliers to do things they don’t do for anyone else.

The iPhone’s wireless internals are sourced from a number of companies, including Qualcomm, Skyworks, Avago, RF Micro Devices and Triquint Semiconductor.

The iPhone 5 supported no more than five LTE bands. The 5s and 5c can support as many as 13, and that’s unique. Unlike other phones designers, Apple has spent a lot of time collaborating with the RF chip companies to find novel solutions that its competitors don’t have.

iSuppli notes that both new iPhones use the same unique combination of RF chips at a combined cost of $32. By the way, iSuppli’s estimates are for the entry-level 16GB iPhone 5s/5c models.

iSuppli last year estimated each 16GB iPhone 5 cost $199 to build.

iPhone 5s motherboard (A7 chip, iFixIt 001)

The $26 difference between last year’s iPhone 5 and this year’s iPhone 5c stems from Apple’s unmatched economies of scale: it’s had a full year to learn how to build the iPhone 5 and is now now able to keep costs at a minimum by perusing the iPhone 5’s components for the iPhone 5c.

It also blows my mind that sophisticated parts for the top-line iPhone 5s cost just $26 more. Keep in mind that this estimated difference covers the cost of the new 64-bit A7 chip, the M7 motion coprocessor, upgraded camera hardware, dual LED-flash, Touch ID fingerprint sensor and more.

Speaking of which, iSuppli pegged a Touch ID cost at just seven bucks. The fingerprint sensor is likely built by AuthenTec engineers that Apple acquired last year. As for the Apple-designed, Samsung-built A7 chip, it costs an estimated $19, a $6 premium over last year’s A6 found inside the iPhone 5c.

Oh, and just as we suspected, the A7 chip has a faster LPDDR3 RAM versus the 1GB LPDDR2 in the A6 package (these memory chips are supplied by SK Hynix, Elpida and Samsung).

Image top of post via iFixIt.