Apple is building its new 32GB LTE iPads at a cost of about half of what the company is charging consumers for them, according to a preliminary teardown analysis by IHS iSuppli. The iPad maker isn’t making quite as much in profit with its new 16GB tablets featuring 4G LTE wireless capability and somewhat more with the top-of-the line 64GB model.
The 32GB LTE iPad, priced at $ 729, costs Apple $ 375.10 to produce, according to IHS, which on Friday performed a physical teardown of an off-the-shelf tablet and presented a preliminary analysis of the cost of its various components and assembly. The $ 375.10 estimate includes what the research firm believes is a bill of materials (BOM) of $ 364.35 and $ 10.75 in manufacturing costs.
Extrapolating for the different cost of NAND flash memory for the two models on either side of the 32GB version, IHS figures the 16GB LTE iPad, priced at $ 629, has a BOM of $ 347.55 and total assembly cost of $ 358.30. The 64GB LTE iPad, carrying an $ 829 sticker, costs an estimated $ 397.95 in materials to produce, and a total of $ 408.70 to make when also factoring in manufacturing expenses.
Apple’s new iPads that feature wireless-only connectivity are being built for a bit less, according to IHS. The research firm thinks manufacturing costs for those models is just $ 10 per unit as opposed to $ 10.75 for the LTE versions. IHS puts the total BOM and manufacturing cost of the new 16GB wireless-only iPad ($ 499 retail) at $ 316, the 32GB model ($ 599) at $ 333, and the 64GB version ($ 699) at $ 366.
Breaking out the cost of different components, IHS believes flash memory costs either $ 16.80 (16GB), $ 33.60 (32GB), or $ 67.20 (64GB) in various versions of the new iPad. As with past generations of the iPad, the display ($ 87) and touch screen ($ 40) combination remain the biggest component cost in the third-generation iOS-based tablet.
“The Retina display represents the centerpiece of the new iPad and is the most obvious enhancement in features compared to previous-generation models,” IHS analyst Andrew Rassweiler said in a statement. “The first two generations of the iPad employed the same type of display—a screen with resolution of 1,024-by-768 pixels. For the third-generation new iPad, Apple has taken a significant step up in display capabilities and expense, at four times the resolution and 53 percent more cost.”
The new ARM-based A5X processor powering the latest iPad is a $ 23 System-on-a-Chip (SoC), according to IHS, while the improved camera costs $ 12.35 a pop; the WLAN/BT/FM module costs $ 15; power management hardware is estimated at $ 10; the battery costs $ 32; mechanical, electro-mechanical, and other parts set Apple back $ 50.50; box contents are $ 5.50, and in LTE models, the BB/RF/PA module costs $ 41.50.
Many of those component costs are roughly the same as the cost of equivalent parts that go into Apple’s still-available and discounted second-generation iPad 2, but as highlighted by IHS, the new iPad’s Retina display is about $ 30 more expensive than the older tablet’s display. The new camera is three times more costly than the earlier model, the new A5X SoC costs about $ 9 more than the older A5, the new battery costs about $ 9 more than the iPad 2′s power pack, and the 4G-LTE hardware is about $ 16 more than the 3G module that goes into some versions of the older tablet.
The research firm said suppliers of parts for the new iPad include, but are not limited to: Samsung (NAND flash, display, A5X contract manufacturing, and possibly battery cells), Toshiba (NAND flash), Hynix Semiconductor (NAND flash), LG Display (display), Sharp (display), TPK (touch screen), Wintek (touch screen), and Chi Mei (touch screen), and Qualcomm (LTE module).
IH S said it wasn’t yet certain if Samsung is supplying the new iPad’s battery cells, but if so, the South Korean tech giant could be pulling in almost 50 percent of the tablet’s BOM outlays.
For more on the new iPad, see PCMag’s full review, as well as Why Critics Are Wrong About Apple’s New iPad, The iPad Wins Because Android Tablet Apps Suck, and New iPad Jailbroken on Launch Day, plus the slide show below: