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Galaxy S4 Korea, US versions: What's the difference?

Posted: 13 May 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Galaxy S4  IHS  teardown analysis  Silicon Motion Mobile TV 

The Octacore Exynos 5 also features the big.LITTLE architecture developed by ARM Holdings, which consists of four 1.6GHz (GHz) Cortex-A15 "big" cores and four 1.2GHz Cortex-A7 "LITTLE" cores. The big cores—which deliver higher-performance capabilities and use more power—handle higher-priority tasks or those demanding computational intensity. The LITTLE cores, not as powerful and using less energy, are delegated to lower-priority or less demanding tasks.

Such a configuration allows the big.LITTLE architecture to achieve a balance of performance and power efficiency, making the Korean phone fast and allowing it a long battery life.

Less is more for wireless
The wireless sub-system of the U.S version of the Galaxy S4 costs Rs.81.52 ($1.50) more than the Korean version. The part selection in this sub-system also varies, with the U.S. version using the MDM9215M and WTR1605L devices from Qualcomm. Meanwhile, the Korean version contains Samsung's base band and radio frequency transceiver and front end.

Interface the nations
More noteworthy differences can be found in the respective user interface and sensor sub-systems of the Korean and U.S. versions.

The Korean S4 features a Silicon Motion Mobile TV system-on-chip device, whereas the U.S. S4 features a separate Fujitsu image processor to offload the core processor when using the camera processing.

Samsung's Octa-core Exynos 5 likely handles the image processing itself in the Korean version, eliminating the need found in the U.S. version for a separate Fujitsu image processor within the Qualcomm solution. Interestingly, even though the Korean version has added the Mobile TV feature, its user interface and sensor sub-system still costs $2.00 less than the U.S. model with the added Fujitsu image processor.

Still more distinctions can be found in the sub-systems containing the wireless local area network (WLAN), Bluetooth (BT), FM radio and global positioning system (GPS).

The Korean and U.S. versions use the Broadcom BCM4335 chip. However, the Korean model requires a discrete BCM47521 from Broadcom to support GPS functionality. The extra Broadcom chip is not in the U.S. carrier version, as the Qualcomm Snapdragon provides onboard GPS functionality.

Because of this, the U.S. version's WLAN/BT/FM/GPS section costs $2.00 less than the Korean version.

Samsung's S4 supremacy
One thing that all versions of the Galaxy S4 share is their extensive use of Samsung-made componentry.

"No other company in the world has an internal supply chain like Samsung's," Leung said. "The display, memory, apps processor, base band, RF transceiver, cameras, power amplifier and a range of other parts—all these make Samsung unique in its capability to supply key parts and capture so much value in a mobile device."

An IHS virtual teardown of the 16GB of the U.S. version of the Galaxy S4 smartphone initially estimated its BOM at Rs.12,663.04 ($233), rising to Rs.13,097.83 ($241) when the manufacturing cost is added. The physical teardown mostly confirmed the pricing and design predictions made in the virtual teardown, with some minor exceptions.


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