Apple iPhone 6s Teardown

  • Teardown  

    As we know from previous Apple updates, the S variants of iPhone models generally take the same shape, size and look of their predecessors but pack in different and, hopefully, improved technology. After living through six generations of the iPhone, the fanfare surrounding a release should come as no surprise. All over the world, intrepid technophiles (and in one case, a robot) waited in line overnight to get their hands on the iPhone 6s.

    So, since the device appears to be nearly identical to the iPhone 6, what’s the big deal? Read through to find out what we discovered once we cracked open Apple’s newest model of their smartphone. We’re examining changes in materials, battery capacity, image sensor, memory, the introduction of the Taptic Engine to the iPhone, and, of course, the implementation of Apple's 3D Touch technology from both a display and IC perspective.

    Major Design Wins


     Design Wins
    Function Manufacturer
    Application Processor Apple
    Baseband Processor Qualcomm
    LPDDR SDRAM Samsung
    NAND - 16 GB/ 64 GB Toshiba / SK Hynix
    Power Management Qualcomm
    Power Management Apple / Dialog Semi
    Envelope Power Tracker Qualcomm
    RF Transceiver Qualcomm
    Accelerometer Bosch
    Gyroscope / Accelerometer Invensense
    Barometric Sensor Bosch
    Audio CODEC Apple/Cirrus Logic
    NFC Controller NXP
    Touchscreen Controller Murata / Broadcom
    Force Touch Controller Analog Devices
    WiFi / Bluetooth USI


    Apple iPhone 6s - Board Shots

    Front Board Shot





    • Qualcomm MDM9635M LTE Cat 6 Modem
    • Avago AFEM-8030 Power Amplifier Module
    • Qorvo TQF6405 Power Amplifier Module
    • Invensense MP67B 6-Axis Gyroscope
    • Bosch Sensortec 3P7LA 3 Axis Accelerometer
    • Skyworks SKY77812 Power Amplifier Module


    Back Board Shot





    • Samsung KLMBG4GEAC-B001 32 GB NAND Flash
    • Qualcomm WCD9320 17500 Audio Codec


    Apple iPhone 6s Bill of Materials Cost

    The bill of materials cost for Apple's A1688 64 GB iPhone 6s is estimated to be $245.00.

    The major components that make up this cost are the applications + baseband processor, display subsystem, and memory. The iPhone 6s we analyzed is the 64 GB version however we have normalized costs to 16GB for ease of comparison. The following chart illustrates the breakout of costs by major component.

    Apple iPhone 6s Bill of Materials Cost  

    Quick Comparison of iPhone 6 versus iPhone 6s

    The following chart compares the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6s QTT estimated bill of materials costs. The iPhone 6 bill of material costs are from our released Deep Dive report, rounded to the nearest $0.50 to help with comparing to our quick turn estimates for the iPhone 6s QTT.  In general for our QTTs, our estimates are rounded to the nearest $0.50.

    There were some significant increases in costs for the iPhone 6s. The move to a 2GB LPDDR4 memory IC caused the greatest impact for the memory cost; our 2GB LPDDR4 accounts for $16, versus the $4.50 1GB LPDDR3 in the iPhone 6.

    • The redesign of the aluminum enclosure using 7000 series impacted the Mechanical/Housing cost by an estimated $4. We will take a closer look at during our deep dive to see if there are other fabrication techniques in the iPhone 6s versus the iPhone 6.

    • The display increase was due to the 3D Touch Sensor and its touch controller IC.

    • As for the lower cost of for the Radio – this was QTT estimate based solely on what we could verify. We did find there to be suspicious ICs which could be a part of the radio - this will be confirmed in our final report.

    • The increase in camera costs: the iPhone 6s now has a 5 MP front camera and a 12 MP main camera – both are upgrades from the iPhone 6.

    • The Apps + Baseband: The introduction of the A9 processor with the M9 designed into it increased the cost from the iPhone 6 which had an A8 and a separate M8 processor.

    • Another consideration was the Baseband processor costs. The iPhone 6s uses a new Qualcomm part, the MDM9635M whereas the iPhone 6 had the MDM9625M.

    iPhone 6 versus iPhone 6s

    3D Touch REVEALED!

    The team at has identified the 3D Touch capacitive touch sensor (first image) and controller (second image) behind Apple's 3D Touch display.

    3D Touch appears to be what Apple’s marketing department is most excited about. With 3D Touch, the screen becomes pressure sensitive. Upon release, the company’s website was full of demos of 3D Touch technology, stressing how the feature would allow users to move through apps, email, messages and the internet more seamlessly. 


    Apple iPhone6s 3D touch display   DRAM  


    Apple touts the ability to “Peek and Pop” on the iPhone 6s. Say a user receives a link in a message: With a hard press, users can “Peek” at the webpage being linked to by bringing up a preview. With a deeper press, they can “Pop” into the full webpage. A few other use cases consumers are bound to love? Hard press the keyboard to turn it into a cursor, or hard press a photo to see a second of movement before and after the photo was taken.

    The only other OEM promoting Force Touch at present is Huawei. The Huawei Mate S is slated to be released in late 2015.

    As an aside, we tore apart the Blackberry Storm 9500 way back in 2009. If you remember, it too featured a patented capacitive touchscreen . However, the novelty might have been lost on consumers six years ago because there certainly weren’t as many engaging ways to use it. Interesting how far we have — or haven’t — come. Jump back in time here if you want to review that.

    AMS Ambient Light Sensor

    AMS Ambient Light Sensor
    Image: The U.S.S. Enterprise has been located inside the Apple iPhone 6s (AMS Ambient Light sensor die photo)

    Surprise: A smaller battery

    Unmissable above the Taptic Engine is the battery pack. It’s hard to discern visually, but the 6s battery is slightly smaller in capacity than its predecessor. The current Li-ion battery is rated at 3.82V and 6.55Whr. Apple took a dip in Milliamp hours, decreasing them from 1810 mAh in the iPhone 6 to the current 1715 mAh.

    The drop in overall charge capacity shouldn't impact running time thanks to the efficient A9 processor and embedded M9 motion coprocessor. Apple claims battery life will deliver 14 hours of talk-time and 10 days of standby. This is the same as claimed by the iPhone 6.


    Apple iPhone6s Li-ion battery   Apple iPhone6s Li-ion battery  


    The current Li-ion battery is rated at 3.82V and 6.55Whr.

    Li-ion battery  


    The iPhone 6s camera features a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera — the most megapixels on an iPhone yet. Apple uses trench isolation to prevent leakage between photodiodes, yielding crisp, clear photos. Apple also upgraded the front-facing camera to 5-megapixels.


    Apple iPhone6s Camera   Apple iPhone6s Camera  


    We will spend a fair bit of time on this device. A detailed analysis of the image sensors and technology updates will be available in our full report.

    The Taptic Engine

    The world was first introduced to Apple’s Taptic Engine by the Apple Watch. On the smartwatch, the feature gives “real-time feedback” to the wearer through subtle taps on the wrist. When living within an iPhone, the Taptic Engine resides inside aluminum casing just below the battery (more on that later), taking the place of the previous vibrator.

    The Taptic Engine is an integral addition to the iPhone 6s, as it’s what gives the fast-as-lightning haptic feedback in response to the 3D Touch display. Wherever a user presses deeply, for example, the oscillating mechanism will fire up in one cycle — quicker than the standard vibrator. In short: Less power consumption, more kinetic energy. It’s worth noting that the iPhone 6 vibrator also featured linear oscillation.

    It’s certainly not lost on us that the introduction of the Taptic Engine in phone-form is a great way to inspire developers to create apps that incorporate it. Just think about the possibilities when it comes to gaming.


    This is a larger version of the Apple Taptic Engine found in the Apple Watch.

    The inclusion of the Taptic Engine at the expense of battery space is likely to meet the need to increased feedback from Apple's 3D Touch and the need for a wider variety of motion to be generated based on user activity.

    We would expect the inclusion of the Taptic Engine to be of interest to appdevelopers who will be able to create more customized feedback for their applications and games.


    The Apple Taptic Engine close up.

    The markings found on the Taptic Engine are FH153731ARFGWF1B5.

    The A9 - A faster, stronger processor

    Apple shrunk down the size of its processor for this iteration of the iPhone 6s. As we’ve previously reported, Apple releases new processors simultaneously with their new phones. The iPhone 6s’s A9 processor is smaller than both the A8 and A7 processors that came before.

    Also notable is how Apple integrated the motion co-processor into the processor itself, so it’s not supported by the corresponding external co-processor (previously named M7, M6, M5, etc.) of years’ past. True to elite Apple form, it’s a custom design.

    The A9 processor uses a new FinFET processor, which is a vertical transistor structure. The end result is a faster and more power efficient experience for the user. For more in-depth information, contact

    TSMC 16 nm finFET Process in Apple A9 Processor - Logic Detailed Structural Analysis

    TSMC 16 nm finFET Process in Apple A9 Processor - Logic Detailed Structural Analysis

    Related Resources

    The following is a list of additional research and reports that have been conducted by TechInsights and on the key components of previous Apple iPhones. More information can be found at TechInsights.