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Smartphone Design Win Monitor : discover the decisions that global manufacturers make

 

System Plus Consulting delivers the first quarterly monitor dedicated to smartphones that reveals the latest component, packaging and silicon chip choices of Samsung, Apple and more.

Electronic costing and technology experts at System Plus Consulting have released the

Smartphone Design Win Monitor which provides unique industry insight into the latest component, packaging and silicon chip choices of smartphone makers.

 

Targeting financial investors, device maker marketing teams, companies involved in the supply chain for equipment, packaging, materials and more, the quarterly update offers a clear view of the semiconductor companies leading this rapidly growing market, drawing comparisons between OEMs and including easily digestible information on the supply chain and technology evolution.

As Jean-Christophe Eloy, President and CEO of Yole Développement (Yole), partner to System Plus Consulting, says: “The Monitor provides detailed data and an understanding of the technical and strategy choices made by the key mobile phone makers, in terms of the supply chain.”

“For example, it answers questions such as which smartphone manufacturer is choosing which type of supplier for a certain device? It also links this data to detail how devices are being packaged,” he adds. “By aggregating our data we are showing the global trends and if a company is following those trends or taking a different strategy.”

Much of the detail provided in the Smartphone Design Win Monitor is based on teardowns from System Plus Consulting, which uncover the innovative design features and new semiconductor components within a smartphone. “You can often find some online data on, say, chipset providers, but this will only provide a small part of the entire picture,” says Romain Fraux, CEO of System Plus Consulting. “With our quarterly Smartphone Design Win Monitors, we are providing an exhaustive view of the content of the smartphones we’ve analysed in terms of technology choice, based on our many teardowns.”

Data matters

Each Smartphone Design Win Monitor looks at 8 representative handsets per quarter, tracking the shipment market share – so if one vendor has 20% market share then around 20% of the  phones analysed will come from that vendor..

“The Monitor includes a database with historical and latest information, providing a one year view so readers can understand trends on an annual basis,” explains Audrey Lahrach, Technology & Cost Analyst, deeply involved in the development of the Smartphone Design Win Monitor at System Plus Consulting.

Detail is provided on the phone and IC manufacturer with, for example, data and graphs illustrating the design wins per vendor from quarter to quarter. Indeed, in the most recent quarterly update, Qualcomm has a clear lead on design wins, followed by Qorvo and Murata.

 

Likewise, data on design wins per nationality – which represents the country of a company’s headquarters – are provided. Latest figures reveal how the US has captured a mighty 47% of design wins, a figure that had changed very little from the previous quarter.

 

Data is also provided on package footprint per vendor, category and packaging technology. For example, in the latest Monitor, Qualcomm and Samsung are leading the pack on footprint but huge variations are seen from quarter to quarter.

 

In a similar vein, recent data on electronic bill of materials – eBOM – reveals that, at least for now, memory is driving the cost of phones. And data on die, wafer and technology indicates that Samsung – a key provider of memory chips – now leads die area utilization.

Leading-edge technologies

 

The Smartphone Design Win Monitor also tracks leading-edge technologies, providing quarterly data on technology nodes including 14 nm down to 5 nm. As Fraux points out, huge investments worldwide from the likes of TSMC and SK Hynix, underpin this technology node right now, making this metric one to watch.

 

“We’ve all heard about the buzz in Europe, the US, Taiwan and South Korea surrounding investments to establish a supply chain for these leading-edge technologies,” says Fraux. “So it’s really important to track how these technology nodes are being used in the die area of smartphones.”

 

Latest quarterly figures indicate that technology nodes of 14 nm down to 5 nm represent 27% of die area in devices. Importantly, combining the latest quarterly data with analysis from Yole, the Monitor reveals that around 1.9 million units of 12-inch wafers are shipped using  these technology nodes. Meanwhile some 2.2 million and 1.0 million units of 12-inch wafers are shipped with the legacy 28-16 nm and 90-32 nm nodes, respectively.

 

“You won’t see a metric like this anywhere else,” highlights Fraux. “For silicon wafer manufacturers, for example, this is so important as you can understand your market in terms of wafer size, technology and other segments.”

All eyes on RF

 

Each Monitor also focuses on the various smartphone components – application processors, memories, cameras, other sensors, RF chips and passives – with graphs and analyses explaining key technology evolutions.

 

Thanks to 5G, Yole had predicted double-digit growth for RF Front-End and connectivity markets from 2020 to 2025, so tracking the evolution of RF components and OEM strategies is crucial for many industry players. As part of this, the latest Smartphone Design Win Monitor looks at the die area occupied by RF components including WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, transceivers and front-end chips. Data reveals how the four handsets from Apple and Samsung have a far larger dies area than smartphones from other manufacturers, in line with the fact that these devices are fitted with 5G mmWave chips from Qualcomm.

 

“This and future Monitors will really be based on exactly what we have found for each of the phones we’ve opened up and looked at in detail,” says Eloy. “We are providing a bottom-up analysis where we move from each component found in each mobile phone and combine all of the data to understand exactly what’s happening in the industry.”

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