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Teardown reveals clues of iPhone 5 design

February 8, 2011 06:00 PM ET

Both issues made national news last summer after the introduction of the iPhone 4 when owners complained that their smartphones couldn't hold a signal or bailed out of calls when held in a certain way.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs called it "Antennagate," and dismissed the complaints even as he announced that the company would give free bumpers or cases to iPhone 4 users.

Analysts disagreed whether the August 2010 departure of Mark Papermaster, Apple's head of iPhone engineering, was due to the brouhaha over the iPhone 4's antenna issues.

"I think [the iPhone 4 antenna design] was simply a technical mistake by Apple," Lam said Tuesday. He expects that the next iPhone for AT&T will integrate some of the design changes seen in the Verizon iPhone to improve the former's call reception.

Although iSuppli has not finalized its estimate of the Verizon iPhone's bill of materials (BOM), a list that calculates Apple's component and production costs, he said that preliminary numbers hinted at a lower BOM than the GSM-compliant model for AT&T.

"It looks like it might be 5% to 10% lower, with 5% more likely." Lam said.

Next summer, however, an AT&T iPhone 5 will be more expensive for Apple to manufacture due to the greater complexity and additional parts necessary in a GSM smartphone.

"It would add a little more to the [Verizon iPhone's] cost to strip out all the CDMA components and put back in those we think are needed for a GSM model," Lam said. "But whether it will be 5% we don't know. We haven't seen that phone."

Apple and Verizon will reopen online ordering of the CDMA iPhone Wednesday, Feb. 9, at 3 a.m. ET, and start selling the smartphone in their retails stores Thursday, Feb. 10, at 7 a.m. local time.

Apple and Verizon halted pre-orders of the iPhone 4 last week after about 15 hours, saying they had exhausted the inventories set aside for existing Verizon customers.

Many who pre-ordered the iPhone from Verizon last week received their smartphones yesterday.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at Twitter @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed Keizer RSS. His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

Read more about Smartphones in Computerworld's Smartphones Topic Center.



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