Samsung Galaxy S5 costs $256 to build, $50 more than iPhone 5s

Samsung Galaxy S5 costs $256 to build, $50 more than iPhone 5s

Summary: But the flagship device represents evolution not revolution with a conservative approach to design.


The 32GB version of Samsung's latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5, costs about $256 to build — a fair chunk more expensive than rival high-end devices, such as Apple's iPhone 5s.

According to calculations by analyst IHS Technology, at $207, the build cost for the 32GB iPhone 5s is around $50 cheaper than that of Samsung's S5.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Apple iPhone 5s: Which has the edge on specs?

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Apple iPhone 5s: Which has the edge on specs?

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Apple iPhone 5s: Which has the edge on specs?

The S5's $256 price ticket (which includes $5 for manufacturing) contrasts even more sharply with cheap Android devices, such as the ZTE U793 and K-Touch T619+. The cost of components in both handsets came in at under $35, IHS Technology said.

The IHS cost calculations don't take into account software, licensing, royalty payments, or additional expenditures, which can bump up the total cost of the finished device, however.

The cost of components in Samsung's flagship Galaxy devices has been gradually increasing over the last few versions as the company crammed in more features: the cost of the components in the Galaxy S3 came in at $205 while the S4 cost $236.

Andrew Rassweiler, senior director of cost benchmarking services for IHS, said higher costs are becoming more typical of Samsung's flagship Galaxy line, adding that in the last year IHS has torn down four Galaxy devices with costs ranging from $237 to $280.

But despite the additional costs, Rassweiler said the S5 embodied a conservative, evolutionary design approach. "There are no revolutions or giant steps forward in this design. There's a lot of similarity and commonality between the S5 and other recent Samsung smartphones... However, there are many small changes throughout the design," he said.

Modified component selections in the S5 include the Qualcomm WTR1625 radio frequency transceiver: previous Galaxy products included the WTR1605L instead. The S5 also includes a new version of the NXP near-field communication controller that's different from the NXP PN5441, PN547, and PN65N devices found in other Samsung devices.

In one major departure from previous designs, the Galaxy S5 features 802.11ac wi-fi with multiple-input, multiple-output (Mimo) technology. Mimo uses multiple antennas to improve signal strength and overall wi-fi performance.

One of the biggest costs in the handset is its core processor, the Qualcomm MSM8974AC. IHS said this is a variant of the popular MSM8974 used in a number of mobile products ranging from the Nokia Lumia 1520 to the Galaxy Round, and LG Google Nexus 5. This chip alone costs $41, but combines the functionality of two formerly separate chips, the core applications processor and the wireless semiconductor. Adding in the cost of the memory bumps this cost up to $102. The cost of the screen — estimated at around $63 — is the second biggest cost.

IHS said the S5 represents the latest escalation of the sensor war, adding more such devices than IHS has found to date in a smartphone design. While a standard smartphone design will feature an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer, the S5 adds a barometric pressure sensor, as well as fingerprint and pulse sensors.

The handset will vary slightly by region: for example, the model dissected by IHS was sold in the South Korean market and included a television receiver, something unlikely to make it into models sold elsewhere.

Further reading

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Samsung, Smartphones

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • cost / size - features

    The Galaxy S5 is 30% larger than the iPhone 5S while only costing 20% more to build.
    The S5 has 26% higher screen resolution, better cameras, more sensors, more features ... and a better CPU.

    The Apple app model using native code has a performance advantage over Android's model which allows Apple to use a cheaper part for the same performance. However everything has tradeoffs...
    • S5 costs more, delivers less

      Despite costing more, the Galaxy S5 continues Samsung's tradition of delivering "cheap" feeling, plasticky phones. Reviews of this device are nearly unanimous is pointing out the fit and finish of the S5 trail the iPhone 5S and HTC's One by a wide margin.

      And where's that 64-bit OS Samsung promised last fall?
      • its a tired slam which carries no weight

        Reviewers trot it out as standard fare and will repeat it till the cows come home as will the Apple fan boys, even after the cows come home. You would think the thing rattles like a 1960 Rambler station wagon the way they carry on. I have one of those supposedly flimsy plasticy awful cheap feeling devices and its just an Internet meme (a pack of lies)...
        • You call it "standard fare", etc, but he has a point

          The Galaxy phones simply FEEL 'cheap'. That said, they do seem to be the best version of the "S" series they've built to date as far as capability is concerned--but that's less due to Samsung's build as it is to a much more stable version of Android inside. Maybe they should start doing what everybody did for PCs for so long and put a sticker on it saying, "Android Inside".
      • What???

        What will a 64 bit processor offer right now?
        • Apparently,

          64 channels of 24bit audio, if you like that kind of stuff...
        • iPhone's CPU is better

          When will Fandroids stop pushing this rubbish about the supposed superiority of the S5's CPU? The iPhone's CPU is better.
          - Many processes cannot be run faster by using parallelism. The iPhone's CPU is roughly twice as fast as Samsung's for serial (non-parallel) tasks. You can see this fact in any of the serial benchmarks.
          - When processes *can* exploit parallelism, the iPhone's two processors are as fast as the four on the S5. Again, this result can be seen in the benchmarks.
          - The graphics processors on the two phones are similar in speed. Overall, parallel programs run at roughly the same speed on the two phones, but serial programs run much faster on the iPhone.

          The iPhone's CPU has other benefits. iOS 7 has been recompiled to exploit the 64-bit arithmetic and other operations, so it runs faster on the iPhone. In fact, all of Apple's programs (Pages, Numbers, iPhoto, the camera) have been compiled to use the 64-bit processor and, since recompilation is so easy, 64-bit apps should be available well before we see programs re-written to use all 4 processors on the Samsung.

          Finally, the iPhone's CPU has dedicated instructions for encryption and a dedicated, hardware-encrypted area for data storage called "secure enclave." This is where *all* the iPhone's fingerprint data is stored: Apple could not access this data if they wanted to.

          In contrast, the Samsung stores all fingerprint-related data in the standard (but encrypted) solid state drive. Consequently, biometric data on the Samsung is as vulnerable as any other data.
          • Of course

            Once the iPhone catches up all you muppets will start to talk about how great having it is.
          • What does that mean?

            The iPhone 5S uses a better CPU than the one on the Samsung S5.

            How can the iPhone 5S "catch up" when it's ahead? (At least on the CPU, the fingerprint scanner and biometric security.)

            I would say the iPhone is ahead in many other ways:
            - It uses Apple maps, so you don't have to pay for the service by giving up your travelling patterns to the highest bidder or watch ads, as Google Earth requires.
            - Apple offers email and office apps that (unlike Android) are *not* paid for by the computer trawling and sale of my personal data - information that Google sells to the highest bidder. (The PRISM/Five Eyes/NSA issue is totally separate.)
            - The Apple UX is unified and not patched together from three others, like Samsung's.
            - I don't need jumbo-jeans to fit the phone in the back pocket of my jeans.
          • Playing Catch Up

            You can play "catch up" all you want Apple sheep but forget about actually LEADING again for any significant amount of time (if any). Samsung moves so fast, they will take the lead yet again every time. Samsung also has the advantage of having in house design, engineering, and manufacturing of it's own products.
      • Plasticy phones

        like the iPhone 5C?
      • I would stop nipping so much of that alcoholic Apple cider if I were you

        The S5 offers infinitely more than does that retread of retreads known as the iPhone be it the first through the 5S.

        Of course, if you do like a teensey, weensey screen; a sealed battery that can't be replaced, a unit that is not water or dust resistant; that was designed from the moment of conception not to be a technological marvel but the best trap ever designed to lure you into Apple's ecosystem from whence if they have their way you will never, ever escape. Then, I suppose you must be thrilled by your iPhone.

        However, if you wanted a phone that is built with customer service and longevity in mind; customer convenience - removable battery and micro SD card - as well as an open architecture operating system that doesn't do everything it can, every which way it can to keep you locked up in a cell; then you would choose the Galaxy S5 - and certainly not an HTC M8 - which is trying ever so hard to be the iPhone and is actually rather succeeding since it really isn't that good and not that very special.

        But to each his own. This was an excellent article incidentally Steve; thank you for your thoroughness and attention to detail; it is very much appreciated.
        The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
    • Still a cheap looking and feeling phone....

      30% more plastic, 30% less quality, 20% more money... Hmmmm enjoy your cheap expensive phone.
      • Beauty is

        Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; there is no accounting for taste and there is nothing to be done about a lack of intelligence - sorry to tell you.
        The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
        • Why are you upset?

          "HTC M8 - which is trying ever so hard to be the iPhone. . ." Very true. The M8 has a 5mp front facing camera just like the iPhone. M8 has two camera lenses just like the iPhone, a 5 inch full HD display just like the iPhone, Front facing speakers just like the iPhone, ultra pixel technology just like the iPhone. MicroSD card slot just like the iPhone, a sleek dot matrix phone case just like the iPhone. And oh, the iceing on the cake, HTC Sence 6 is just like iOS, BlinkFeed, iPhone got that too.. 90 percent aluminum uni-body just like u know who.. Smh.

          Dude why are you so upset and frustrated?. This is a very informative article. It is neither praising nor condemning any phone manufacturer. Unfortunately people would make certain comments that are not relevant to the topic of the article. That is how the internet is. So please do not allow people's comments to drive you crazy so much that you make some very uneducated comments like someone is trying to be someone.

          You love smasung phones because the suit you best. That is fine. Samsung makes great phones. Leave those who want to make ignorant comparisons and call things cheep like they have manufactured something in their life, to themselves. Just read and relax..
          Senam Tmak
          • I am not the least upset and certainly not un-relaxed

            Senam. My response, if you look, was to one of the boilerplate iPhone fanatic comments above. I specifically commented that I felt the article was very good.

            My question to you is, why do you take such umbrage to a comment by someone pointing out to the err of their ways ..." those who want to make ignorant comparisons and call things cheap like they have manufactured something in their life, to themselves."?

            Why should I,or anyone, be required to sit silently by and suffer fools kindly? Best way to deal with them is to nail their inaccurate fannies to the barndoor and/or make a joke out of them - nothing deflates pomposity faster than being made fun of - just as Boss Tweed about the power of what a cartoon can do to you.

            Yes, Samsung makes excellent phones, which I consider superior in all respects; including their conceptualization of purpose and what underlies the company's intentions; namely, creating a unit that helps rather than hinders me in the pursuit of individual freedom and productivity - rather than, as in the case of Apple - producing a designed from start to finish sugar coated poison pill that once you swallow it - once you wake up you find yourself transported to Appleland - where, if they have their way with you they have their way you feeding their cash cow forever and a day?

            I don't care if Apple made the best quality devices that ever has existed or ever will - their philosophy and business model is tantamount to trying to make totalitarianism seem like a benevolent form of government. But, as you say, to each his own and obviously my opinions and those who are willing to consider buying Apple products well - "never the twain shall meet". In the end, I believe, Apple will fail and fall as people become more and more informed and thus better consumers.

            In the meantime, I will - I promise, respect your right to disagree with me and be wrong! lol And as far as my not being relaxed - rest assured - the last thing on earth I truly take seriously are these posting that you or I or anyone makes here.

            After all, let's face it, except for the fun we derive from writing these posts and seeing our "ideas" (good, bad or indifferent posted) there is little truly accomplished by posting them save that it does helps sharpen and refine our thinking and wit on whatever subject we have chosen to write about.
            The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
  • Cost - availability moot

    The cost of the 32gb Galaxy S5 is moot, if it is not going to be sold by any U.S. wireless providers. Do you have any inside info as to when/if any of them are going to sell it?
    • ummm

      They are available now, and have been since last Friday.
      • ummm

        Who is selling the 32GB version of the Samsung Galaxy S5 in the U.S.A.?
  • Size is not proportional to cost

    It's misleading to equate cost differences with size. The extra material in a larger phone costs pennies. What costs is additional hardware. Leading edge more capable technology is expensive, while a larger screen, frame etc. adds relatively little to the cost.
    The Shovel