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Teardown: Inside Samsung Galaxy S4

Posted: 02 May 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:smartphone  Android  Galaxy S4 

Inside the Galaxy S4
Based on the resounding success of the Galaxy SIII, many in the industry are wondering if Samsung would be able to continue delivering on the technology inside their feature handset. Immediately noticeable upon removing it from its box is the screen-to-case ratio. It is evident that Samsung has maximised the size of the screen while reducing the size of the bezel around it. Doing so keeps the Galaxy S4 comparable in size and form factor to handsets with smaller screens like the Nexus 4 or the Galaxy S3. Utilising a 5.0 inch (convert to mm except for displays) screen featuring Samsung's proprietary Super AMOLED (1080 x 1920 pixels) technology, the edges of the display nearly touch the sides of the phone.

At TechInsights, we took apart the GT-I9500 model. This version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 was not LTE-compliant but featured Samsung's newest powerhouse processor, the Exynos Octa 5410. Claiming to be an eight-core processor, the Octa is one of the first processors to incorporate the "big-little" design utilising four 1.6GHz ARM Cortex-A15 cores and four 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A7 cores.

When we open the I9500 model, the most surprising discovery is that of Intel's mobile communication components earning design wins for the baseband and corresponding transceiver. This Galaxy S4 uses Intel's PMB9820 baseband processor, which we surmise is from their X-GOLD 636 reference design. This baseband is optimised for EDGE, WCDMA and HSDPA/HSUPA bands. The transceiver IC is the PMB5745, which we believe is their SMARTi UE3 RF transceiver. This is the first major design win we've seen for Intel since they lost their lucrative sockets in the Apple iPhone to Qualcomm. However, it should be noted that the Qualcomm does have the design wins in the GT-I9505 model, which will be readily available in the U.S. and Canada.

Broadcom continues its reputation of securing high-profile socket wins within high-profile handset devices. Apart from providing devices to the iPhone, Broadcom has previously used the Galaxy to introduce new components. With the Galaxy S4, we find the first use of their new Broadcom BCM4335 all-encompassing wireless IC for Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, and Wi-Fi hotspot. Broadcom previously introduced the BCM4334 first in the Samsung Galaxy S3 GT-I9300 model.

Die markings on the Broadcom BCM4335 wireless connectivity combo chip

Die markings on the Broadcom BCM4335 wireless connectivity combo chip.

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