Apple's iPhone Series: Acquisitions And Various Other Ruminations
Expanding on iSuppli’s recent BOM cost estimate of the iPhone 3GS, with thanks to Suzanne for the heads-up writeup, you may recall that I mentioned a week ago (speaking of the inevitability of product teardowns):
Anand had his hands on one within hours of its public unveiling, and you gotta know that folks like iFixit and phoneWreck aren’t far behind.
To wit, I’ll draw your attention to a few other recently published analyses of the product:
- RapidRepair was first (after Anand, that is) to get their results online, by virtue of buying their phone from an Orange outlet in Paris, France.
- iFixit’s Kyle Wiens (who previously worked with me on a Prying Eyes project focused on the 2nd generation iPod touch) also flew all the way to the UK so that he could be one of the first to get his hands on Apple’s latest handset. Here’s his step-by-step dissection. He took an interesting additional tack on the teardown, recording it using the video capture capability of another iPhone 3GS.
The most notable news I saw coming out of these dissections was that the CPU, an ARM Cortex A8-based Samsung S5PC100, is spec’d to run up to 833 MHz even though, as I noted last week, the variant in the iPhone 3GS is only clocked at 600 MHz. Perhaps, in part, this was an attempt to maximize CPU yield and therefore minimize cost. Since the Imagination Technologies GPU in the system not only has robust OpenGL ES support but also hardware-accelerates the video processing of numerous codecs, Apple was probably also able to dial the system clock down to save battery life while still delivering a judged-acceptable level of performance. To that point, note that the battery in the iPhone 3GS has only a 6% larger charge storage capacity than that in the iPhone 3G.
As I suggested in a few-day-later follow-up, a ton of first-generation iPhones would shortly be showing up for re-sale, courtesy of end-of-contract upgraders. And indeed that ended up being the case, reflective of the fact that Apple ended up moving more than 1 million iPhone 3GSs in the first three days of sales. By Friday afternoon, I knew that a carrier unlock for the first-gen iPhone with v3 firmware was available which would let me use the handset with my T-Mobile subscription, so I took the plunge and snagged a claimed ‘mint condition’ 8 GByte unit for $190 plus shipping and insurance via eBay’s Buy It Now on Friday afternoon…
…and then I got buyer’s remorse. Not for the concept, mind you, but for the specific implementation I’d chosen. As I noted back in early June of 2008, the iPhone 3G’s evolution beyond the original iPhone was moderate; a few form factor tweaks, UMTS/HSPA capability (which is unusable on T-Mobile’s network anyway, due to unsupported frequencies), and integrated A-GPS (whose potential long-term readers already know is intriguing to me) . Conversely, I wasn’t sure if the cellular tower-triangulated location approximation approach used in the original iPhone would still function once I was using the handset with a non-sanctioned cellular carrier. Plus, since the battery is embedded, an iPhone 3G would have at least a year-newer power source than an iPhone purchased at its intro date. And as it turns out, the original iPhone can’t be tethered, either.
The final nudge that toppled me over the edge was when I heard that folks were getting instant rebates from Microsoft if they purchased new iPhone 3GS units via the Bing search engine. Thinking back to my past experiences with Microsoft Cashback promotions, I wondered if I could score a similar deal by launching into eBay via the Bing intermediary. And indeed I did. Saturday morning I scored a claimed ‘mint’ 8 GByte iPhone 3G, which the seller agreed to upgrade to v3 firmware and carrier-unlock for me before shipping it.
After Microsoft Cashback and eBay Bucks discounts, I paid around $250 inclusive of shipping and insurance. The carrier unlock for the iPhone 3G arrived early Tuesday morning, courtesy of the Dev Team. And as it turns out, after I research the serial number the seller emailed me, I didn’t get a unit bought in July of last year, as I was originally led to believe. The seller remembered that he’d received a replacement device from Apple in December, to correct a faulty headphone connection, so my new toy and its battery are only six months old.
I’ll let you know how it goes once the handset arrives. Anyone want to buy a mint condition first-generation iPhone? Or a second-generation iPod touch?