A teardown of HTC Corp.’s (HTCFX) ThunderBolt highlights the expense behind LTE phones, according to the IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis Service. IHS said the ThunderBolt carries the highest bill of materials of any phone it has ever torn apart.
With a bill of materials totaling $262, the ThunderBolt rivals the expense of media tablets, IHS noted. Adding the LTE standard to the device increased the cost of the phone by $39.75. The bulk of that expense ($29) came from including Qualcomm Inc.’s MDM9600 baseband chip.
“It remains to be seen whether the next Apple (AAPL) iPhone set for introduction in September will support 4G LTE,” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst for IHS. “However, if it does, two things are clear. First, the iPhone’s minuscule printed circuit board (PCB) will have to grow in size in order to support the first-generation LTE baseband processor as well as all the supporting chipset. Second, the next iPhone’s BOM value certainly will increase substantially compared to the iPhone 4 if LTE is implemented in the same manner as in the HTC Thunderbolt.”
The CDMA version of the iPhone 4, sold by Verizon Wireless, carries a bill of materials of $171.35, IHS said. However, Apple might seek a more efficient semiconductor solution when it adds LTE to its device, which HTC did not do with the ThunderBolt. Qualcomm’s MSM8960 is available today, which would reduce the size and cost of making an LTE iPhone, compared to the ThunderBolt. Nevertheless, the MSM8960 would still require more components, according to Tina Teng, senior analyst, wireless communications, for IHS. As such, Apple may not make an LTE product until the second quarter of 2012, the firm stated.