We often talk about value for money in terms of smartphones and tablets, but what exactly do we mean? We might mean that you get better performance for less money, or we might mean you get better technical specs for less money. Even when using price comparison websites like Best Mobile Contracts, phone deals are much pricier than they were several years back. With the help of analysis outfit IHS iSuppli, it’s possible to find out how much you’re really getting for your money. How much does every iPhone 4S handset set Apple back? Is the Lumia 900 worth its hefty price tag? It’s time to spill the beans.
One of the most interesting revelations on the site is regarding tablets. Despite Apple’s reputation for making everything a little more expensive than it actually needs to be, iSuppli estimate that the production costs of the ‘new’ iPad are ‘at least $316′ (or £198), which is really not that cheap. Considering in 2010 the site revealed that the original iPad was a more expensive tablet than the Samsung Galaxy Tab despite both being on sale in stores at the same retail price, Apple’s reputation as an overpriced lifestyle brand should perhaps be reconsidered.
Which brings us to the iPhone 4S. iSuppli put the estimated cost of building an iPhone 4S at £119, or $190, with the site saying that “on the inside, the latest member of the iPhone line includes a wealth of innovation”, implying that despite only being billed as a semi-step up from the iPhone 4, the handset actually made leaps and bounds in terms of technology, including a “a new wireless module with a unique custom module from Avago Technologies Ltd.—and the first use of a Hynix Semiconductor Inc. NAND flash memory in an Apple Inc. iPhone product” – we’re told this is some pretty good stuff.
The surprise entry in iSuppli’s ‘Teardown’ list is the Nokia Lumia 900, which the site estimates costs the company around $217 (or £136) to build, which is 46% of the handset’s listed retail price. The site’s ‘teardown’ of the Lumia 900 reveals that Nokia have been able to keep the cost of the Lumia low by including a single-core APQ8055 processor from Qualcomm and limited amount of DRAM. This means that while the Nokia handset costs more to produce than the iPhone 4S, it’s still being sold for less money on the retail market. Does this make it a better value handset?
We’re not sure. This brings us back to the idea of value in a smartphone – is a handset good value because you’re paying less for more expensive components, or is it good value because you’re paying less for better performance? The Lumia 900 might cost more to build than the iPhone 4S, but its single-core processor means it packs in, essentially, half the power of the 4S. Whether the Lumia makes up for this with excellent speaker and display quality is up to you – but ‘value’ is certainly not something that can be calculated by iSuppli alone. Besides, admit it – it wasn’t value for money that attracted you to your current smartphone, was it? Of course not; you were more concerned with finding out whether it was available in white and featured ‘one of those cool face unlocking thingmies.’ In the eye of the beholder, value is like beauty – it’s worth whatever you’ll ascribe to it.