Saturday, January 29, 2011

Inside your smartphone - component manufacturers


Confession - I do read my blog stats religiously to see what search queries brought you here and which posts have gotten the maximum hits. I noticed that a lot of people have been searching to find information about smartphone component manufacturers which led to this post I made in August 2010.

Behind every smartphone are several manufacturers, and hundreds of different components put together to work in harmony. 

If you are really interested in what's inside your phone, you should type the name of the phone+teardown to get the gory details. My post just skims the surface...

1. ARM - the king of mobile processors
At the heart of your smartphone is a processor with ARM-based architecture. This architecture is owned and licensed by Arm Holdings , a UK based company, which however does not manufacture the processors themselves. Whether your mobile phone processor is manufactured by QualComm, NVidia, Samsung, TI or Apple, they have paid ARM to use their technology.

2. Assorted chips for different uses

Smartphones have multiple chips - video processor, audio codec, touchscreen controller, flash memory,bluetooth etc. The chips are the most expensive components of a cellphone. There are several low-profile companies who are specialised in certain chips. For example, BroadComm commonly manufactures the Bluetooth module and GPS receiver on most smartphones including the iPhone 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S. Samsung is a leading manufacturer of the memory module.

3. Touchscreen/ display
The post I made last year talks mostly about the manufacturers of displays - Samsung, Sony and now, LG.There is very little to choose between the top displays - Sony's Super LCD and Samsung's Super AMOLED. The new one in the mix is LG's Nova display, which made its debut on LGs Optimus handset in early January. This is an IPS LCD with high brightness and outdoor visibility and LG claims it is the brightest and most energy efficient display in the world, beating even AMOLED. If you are interested in the very close-run comparison of NOVA and SAMOLED, check out the video comparison of both screens by Phone Arena