Teardown: Moto Droid emulates other iPhone killers

SAN FRANCISCO—Motorola Inc.'s Droid smartphone includes hardware similar to other so-called “iPhone killers” and carries a bill of materials cost of $179.11, according to a teardown analysis conducted by market research firm iSuppli Corp.

Like Palm Inc.'s Pre, HTC Corp.'s Magic and LG Electronics Inc.'s Voyager, the Droid features a full slide-out Qwerty keyboard, a high-resolution 5-megapixel camera module, upgradeable memory and a removable battery, according to iSuppli (El Segundo, Calif.). Key components inside the Droid include a baseband processor/RF chip supplied by Qualcomm Inc., an applications processor supplied by Texas Instruments Inc. and multi-chip memory modules supplied by Toshiba Corp. and Numonyx B.V., the firm said.

“With the inclusion of all these features, Motorola is attempting to address what it considers to be shortcomings in the iPhone,” said Andrew Rassweiler, director and principal analyst of iSuppli's teardown services, services, in a statement. “However, at the end of the day, it's Google's software that will determine how well the device actually operates.”

In addition to the $179.11 worth of electronic components, the Droid costs $8.64 to manufacture, iSuppli said.

Motorola's share of global cell-phone shipments has been sliding over the past three years, iSuppli noted. The company accounted for 5.4 percent of worldwide unit shipments in the second quarter of 2009, down from 22.5 percent in the second quarter of 2006, according to the research firm.

Motorola ranked No. 5 in worldwide handset market share in the third quarter of 2009, iSuppli said. The company ranked No. 2 as recently as the first quarter of 2007. Rassweiler noted that Motorola hasn't had a hit handset product since its popular Razr, launched in 2003.

“For Motorola, the Droid represents an attempt to get on the comeback trail with a competitive smart-phone product,” Rassweiler said, calling it a critical product for Motorola.

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The Qualcomm chip in Droid supports the CDMA2000 1x and EV-DO air standards, the global positioning system (GPS) and tri-band 800MHz/1900MHz/AWS(1700/2100MHz) frequencies, iSuppli said.

In addition to the applications processor, TI is also the supplier of the Droid's Bluetooth/WLAN/FM transmitter and receiver, iSuppli said. The firm noted the presence in the handset use of two silicon microphones from Knowles, presumably to provide noise cancellation. But no dedicated audio codec was found to support this feature, iSuppli said.

A major differentiating feature between the Droid and the iPhone is the inclusion of a microSD slot for adding additional NAND flash memory to store user data and content, such as apps and video and audio files, iSuppli said. The Droid comes bundled with a removable microSD card that contains 16Gbytes of NAND flash memory, the same density embedded inside the high-end model of the iPhone 3G S, the firm said. At $35, the microSD card is the Droid's most expensive single component, iSuppli said.

The Droid also features a 3.7-inch TFT LCD display with 16 million colors and a resolution of 854 by 480 pixels, iSuppli said. At $17.75, this display is the most expensive component integrated within the enclosure of the Droid, according to iSuppli. The teardown also uncovered a capacitive touch screen/overlay that supports the Droid touchscreen interface, with a cost of $17.50.

The Droid's camera module appears to be sporting a new type of auto-focus actuation technology that iSuppli's teardown analysis service has not previously seen, and still has not yet been identified, the firm said. ISuppli analysts hypothesize that this may be bimetallic strips that are heat actuated.

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