Samsung Note 4 & Alpha Teardown

Samsung released their latest 5.7inch flagship Galaxy Note 4 ahead of
schedule in South Korea, and then followed it up with the release of
the Samsung Galaxy Alpha in Europe. The Galaxy Alpha with its 4.7 inch
display is Samsung’s thinnest and first metal-framed device in their
Galaxy product line to date. Both devices are the Samsung alternatives
to Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6 phones released on September 19.

Apple iPhone Comparison
Apple iPhone Comparison
Figure 1: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 & Galaxy Alpha

Both the Note 4 SM-N910K and Galaxy Alpha SM-G850F relied on
Samsung’s own Exynos application processors, the Exynos 5433 and the
Exynos 5430 respectively.

Apple iPhone Comparison
Apple iPhone Comparison
Figure 2: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Exynos 5433 & Samsung Galaxy Alpha Exynos 5430

Unlike the Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices which both used
the same baseband processor, the Qualcomm MDM9525M, Samsung brings the
Intel X-Gold PMB9933 XG726G into the Alpha, and Samsung’s own Shannon
303 into the Galaxy Note 4. There are rumors the basebands will be
different in the models released for the US market.

In the Galaxy Note 4, Samsung used many of their Shannon chipsets to
support other functions such as power management, RF, and one IC who’s
function we have not yet determined. TechInsights first spotted Shannon
in
the Samsung Galaxy Lite SGH-T399 in 2013 and again in the recently
released Samsung S5 Mini SM-G800F. However in those devices, Shannon
was only used for power management and the RF transceivers. With the
addition of so many of the Shannon ICs in a flagship like the Galaxy
Note 4, it would appear Samsung is expanding Shannon into becoming an
entire design solution.

Overall, Samsung takes the majority of the design wins in the Galaxy
Note 4 with the Shannon ICs and other Samsung components such as the
Exynos 5433 processor. Both the Galaxy Alpha and Note 4 use S3FWRN for
the NFC controller, S5C72C for image processing, as well as the Samsung
memory ICs.

Galaxy Note 4 Board Shots

  • Apple iPhone 6 Teardown

  • Apple iPhone 6 Teardown

  • Major Component List / Design Wins

    Front Board Shot
    • Samsung Shannon 303 Baseband Processor
    • Samsung K4P1G324EQ-MGC1 Mobile DDR2-S4 SDRAM – 128 MB
    • Samsung Shannon 60X6R8 Power Management
    • Maxim MAX77843 USB Interface / Li-Ion Battery Charger
    • Avago ACPM-8117 RF Power Amplifier Module
    • Maxim MAX98504 Audio Amplifier
    • Samsung KMR21000AM-A805 Multi-chip Memory – 3 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM, 32 GB MLC
    • Samsung Exynos 5433 Exynos 5 Applications Processor
    • Wacom W9012 Digitizer Controller Module
    • Samsung S5C72C1A01 Image Processor
    • Samsung S3FWRN NFC Controller
    • Bosh Sensortec BMP180 Digital Barometric Pressure Sensor
    • Yamaha YAS532B 3-Axis Electronic Compass

    Galaxy Alpha Board Shots

  • Apple iPhone 6 Teardown

  • Apple iPhone 6 Teardown

  • Major Component List / Design Wins

    Front Board Shot
    • Intel PMB9933 XG726G X-Gold Baseband Processor
    • Samsung KMR2M0009M-A803 Multi-chip Memory – 2 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM, 32 GB MLC
    • Maxim MAX77804 Interface PMIC
    • Murata E702A7 WiFi/Bluetooth Module
    • RF Micro Devices RF8095 Multi-mode – Multi-band Power Amplifier
    • Skyworks SKY7851 Antenna Switch
    • RF Micro Devices RF8081A Envelope Power Tracking
    • Yamaha YAS532B 3-Axis Electronic Compass
    • Samsung Exynos 5430 Applications Processor
    • Wolfson Microelectronics WM5110E Audio Hub CODEC w/ Voice Processor DSP
    • Samsung S5C72C1A01 Image Processor
    • Broadcom BCM47531 GPS / GNSS Receiver

    Cypress Semiconductor takes its usual spot in both devices,
    supporting the lower two touch buttons. In the Galaxy Note 4 our analyst
    found the CY8CMBR3155-LQXI capacitive touch controller, part of the
    Cypress Semiconductor CapSense portfolio.

    Apple iPhone Comparison
    Figure 3: Cypress Semiconductor Touch Controller in Galaxy Note 4

    Unknown WiFi / Bluetooth Module

    It is unknown which manufacturer is supporting the WiFi / Bluetooth /
    ANT+ features in either the Galaxy Alpha or Galaxy Note 4. Both of the
    phones have a similar multi-die module found in other Samsung Galaxy S5
    phones where the the WiFI / Bluetooth controller ICs were embedded.

    Design Win Surprise

    Our analysts found two different STMicroelectronics touchscreen
    controllers in the Display / Touchscreen subsystems of the Samsung
    Galaxy Alpha and the Galaxy Note 4. We suspect these are both two-die
    packages and will confirm it in our Deep Dive analysis of both products
    in the coming weeks.

    Apple iPhone Comparison
    Apple iPhone Comparison
    Figure 4: STMicroelectronics Touchscreen Controllers Found in Galaxy Note 4 & Alpha

    CoG Quick Estimates

    All four devices are currently in process for a full Deep Dive
    analysis. The Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus reports are expected to
    be completed at the end of October, 2014. The Samsung reports are
    expected to be available at the beginning of December.

    Apple iPhone Comparison
    Figure 5: Estimated Costs Comparison of the Galaxy Alpha, iPhone 6, Galaxy Note 4, and the iPhone 6 Plus

    Displays and Touchscreens

    The final cost of the Galaxy Note 4 is estimated to be higher than
    the iPhone 6 Plus. This is greatly due to the higher priced Display /
    Touchscreen subsystem cost of the Galaxy Note 4. The Super AMOLED
    display of the Note 4 has a cost premium which increases as the panel
    size increases. Also impacting the costs of the Note 4 display is higher
    pixel count.

    Apple iPhone Comparison
    Figure 6: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 & Apple iPhone 6 Plus Display Specifications

    The Takeaways

    An initial design win observation of the Galaxy Alpha, Samsung tapped
    themselves to support applications with the Exynos 5430 with support
    from their own memory ICs. For envelope power tracking. instead of using
    the R2AA217C from the reclusive R2 Semiconductor (as they did in the
    Samsung Galaxy S5 mini), Samsung used the RFMD RF8081A. Other than
    finding STMicroelectronics supporting the main touchscreen controller
    function, there were not any significant design changes from other
    Samsung Galaxy phones.
    The Galaxy Note 4 did surprise us with the STMicroelectronics touch
    solution and with the number of ICs from Samsung’s Shannon chipset. The
    Shannon ICs and the number of additional Samsung ICs seen in the Galaxy
    Note 4 may suggest Samsung is not only hard at work at designing their
    own total design solution for mobile devices, but they are also willing
    to use their own designs in their high-end, flagship smartphones.

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