Samsung Galaxy S4 teardown: Qualcomm is a big winner

A teardown of Samsung's new Galaxy S4 Android smartphone shows that Qualcomm is a big winner, succeeding in getting multiple chips onto the motherboard.

Samsung's new Galaxy S IV smartphone has made it off the production line and onto the iFixit operating table. What makes the newest — and most anticipated — Android smartphone tick?

Straight away, the iFixit team was pleased to discover that Samsung has bestowed the S4 with a user-removable battery. All that's needed to get into the handset is a sturdy fingernail to get into the device, after which the 3.8V and 2,600mAh (9.88Wh) battery can be removed by hand.

Image: iFixit

Delving deeper into the smartphone, the iFixit team discovered a 13 megapixels rear-facing camera capable of recording full 1080p HD videos at 30 frames per second, a pair of IR sensors that are used for the Air View/Air Gesture feature, and a Synaptics S5000B touchscreen processor that is so sensitive it allows the screen to be operated while wearing gloves.

While Samsung is hoping that the Galaxy S4 will bring in the dollars, the real winner seems to be Qualcomm, having scored multiple wins inside the new smartphone.

On the motherboard are found the following:

  • Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T 1.9 GHz quad-core CPU

  • MDM9215M 4G GSM/UMTS/LTE modem

  • PM8917 power management module

  • WCD9310 audio codec chip

  • WTR1605L Seven-Band 4G LTE chip

  • PM8821 Power Management chip.

Image: iFixit

According to iFixit, the Galaxy S4's internal construction is "is very similar, if not identical, to the Galaxy S III", which means that it is a quite an easy device to fix, should something break or stop working. The battery is user replaceable, and the internal components easy to access, with only 11 Phillips #0 holding the device together.

Image: iFixit

The only black marks against the device are the fact that the glass is fused to the display and display frame, which increases the cost of a replacement, and that getting at the screen means taking the entire handset to bits.

iFixit awarded the Galaxy S4 a repair-ability score of 8 out of 10, which is very good going for a modern smartphone.