Revealing the Samsung Galaxy S6’s hidden technologies

With every new model, smartphone manufacturers are trying to bring users a better experience, incredible functions, innovative design and new applications. But how are they doing it?

What are the real innovations at the device and module level? System Plus Consulting (S+C) is releasing a new report collection in order reveal the silicon-level innovation choices made by the current smartphone market leaders. The first model to be analyzed is the Samsung Galaxy S6 and this new report ( Samsung Galaxy S6 teardown & physical analysis of key components ) provides all the data  needed to understand Samsung’s choices in terms of suppliers and technology. It identifies the major innovations, device specifications, size and package footprint win per device maker. We have interviewed Romain Fraux, project manager for MEMS and packaging at System Plus Consulting.

Yole Développement:  System Plus Consulting is well-known for its IC, sensor and module teardowns and related reverse costings, and now has a leading position for such analyses. Why are you launching a new type of report dedicated to mobile phone technology?

Romain Fraux: The key added value that S+C offers is demonstrating the innovation in devices and modules, making them visible through our ability to tear systems down and do physical analysis at the device level and then understand production costs. All the teardowns of smartphone devices provide good information about which company has won which slot. But until now nothing was available to understand the major technical innovations and the technical choices of the smartphone maker and its supply chain. This is what we have decided to highlight with this first technology analysis of the Samsung Galaxy S6.


Samsung Galaxy S6 teardown & physical analysis of key components


YD: Can you tell us more about the content of the report?

RF: We decided to identify the most innovative devices in terms of design, packaging, supplier, and functionality for each smartphone and do both teardowns and technology analysis in order to make the innovation visible. In the Samsung Galaxy S6, we have chosen to look into the details of 11 devices, for packaging – for example the Samsung Exynos processor –  for sensor design – including the optical image stabilization gyroscope, e-compass, the inertial measurement unit, and new ambient light sensing technology – for imaging and wireless communication. For each of these devices, we did a technical analysis, supported by photos from the S+C lab, so that the reader can get a clear understanding of technology evolution in the mobile phone market.


Samsung SystemPlusConsulting Yole Sony CMOS Image Sensor

Sony CMOS Image Sensor

YD: And you are right, your photos are really good! You also mention that you analyzed Samsung’s supply chain. What do you mean by that?

RF: For the ICs we found in the Samsung Galaxy S6 we identified the supplier, the main specifications of the device in term of size, packaging technologies and technical choices. We can then analyze the changes in term of both technology and suppliers. In order to also have an accurate picture of the real footprint of each supplier in the phone, we evaluated the surface area of silicon that they represent. This is the only way to evaluate the level of business done by the suppliers. For example, Samsung gets 22% of the IC slots but 59% of the surface area! Likewise, Sony has one design win out of the 11 sensors you can find in the mobile phone, but it represents 40% of the sensor surface area, compared to 3-4% for Knowles, AMS or Invensense. This information is really important in understanding the evolution of Samsung’s supply chain.

YD: So what’s your analysis of the Samsung Galaxy S6’s technical choices?

RF: Well, the packaging choices are in line with the available technologies. Samsung has chosen package-on-package options for its large devices, but we think that a new platform will arrive soon, because fan-out technologies are now ready for primetime. For the image sensor, Samsung is following Apple in choosing Sony as the supplier of its core image sensor, adopting its high quality module. We have found that Invensense and Yamaha are the preferred suppliers for motion sensing. Synaptics is the supplier of choice for the fingerprint sensor, and it’s certainly waiting for the integration of this function into the display. Please read the report and you will discover all the details!


Samsung SystemPlusConsulting Yole InvenSense Gyro for OIS

InvenSense Gyro for OIS

YD: What are the next steps for S+C in this new report collection?

RF: This report is the first step toward a complete collection that will soon be available covering all the major smartphones. For each phone we will track the technical choices, review the innovations and supplier choices. We’ll evaluate the footprint of each company and their business evolution as well as provide beautiful photos that make innovation visible. More will follow in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Discover the new report Samsung Galaxy S6 teardown & physical analysis of key components

Romain Fraux
is Project Manager for Reverse Costing analyses at System Plus Consulting. Since 2006, Romain is in charge of costing analyses of MEMS devices, Integrated Circuit and Advanced Packaging. He has significant experience in the modeling of the manufacturing costs of electronics components. Romain has a BEng from Heriot-Watt University of Edinburgh, Scotland and a master’s degree in Microelectronics from the University of Nantes, France.


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