Our look at the upcoming “iPhone 6S” continues today with a discussion of new internal components that are expected to be inside Apple’s latest smartphone. In addition to expected changes such as a Force Touch display, upgraded camera system, and new Qualcomm LTE chip for up to twice-as-fast data speeds, the next iPhone will likely include updated NFC hardware, fewer and more efficient chips, and new flash memory that may nonetheless remain at a 16GB minimum capacity.
Nearly two weeks after the product’s official release, Chipworks has updated its earlier Apple Watch teardown to note several significant details, most notably that Apple’s latest processor uses a 28-nanometer building process that has already been leapfrogged by newer technology. The discovery reveals that the S1 — believed to be roughly equivalent in processing power to Apple’s A5 processors — can be readily evolved using the smaller 20-nanometer process used in Apple’s current A8 processors, as well as the cutting-edge 14-nanometer process that’s reportedly being used in the upcoming A9. This is good news for next-generation versions of the Apple Watch, as they will be able to easily fit faster or more power-efficient processors in the same space as the S1.
As highlighted in separate chip teardown and X-ray analyses released today by Chipworks and iFixit (partnered with Creative Electron), the S1 packs over 30 components into a resin-covered package, including everything from wireless chips, wireless charging, audio processors and sensors to the CPU itself. The CPU is again said to be Samsung-fabricated, continuing the unusual frenemy relationship between Apple and one of its chief consumer electronics rivals. Several of the beautiful iFixit/Creative Electron X-ray images of the Apple Watch are included below…
There has been a lot of controversy over Apple’s new Lightning connector introduced with the iPhone 5 and refreshed iPod lineups. Perhaps the biggest source of frustration for users and accessory manufacturers alike is the inability, so far, to produce official third-party products using the new standard. Apple has yet to update accessory makers with changes to its ‘Made For iPad/iPhone/iPod (MFi)’ policies. This will apparently require approval of facilities manufacturing Lightning products, but according to reports, it will not come until at least next month.
For accessory makers wishing to produce unofficial Lightning products, that process has proven difficult thanks to chips Apple has built into the connector thought to include security features. Despite reports that the security features have already been reverse engineered, and one or two third-party products on the market using the original Lightning cables from Apple’s suppliers, we have yet to experience a flood of Lightning products available to consumers. We also did not know exactly what tech Apple is including in these chips, something that we get a better look at today courtesy of a detailed teardown from Chipworks.
Once inside, Chipworks found a TI chip labeled “BQ2025″ (alongside a handful of others) that could possibly include security features. The chip isn’t listed on TI’s website, but four similar chips are:
However, TI does have published datasheets on the BQ2022, BQ2023, BQ2024, and BQ2026. These four chips are cataloged on TI’s website as battery fuel gauges, but they are not identical, with three of them being serial EPROMs and one of them being a battery monitor IC… All use a single wire SDQ interface (TI’s proprietary serial communications protocol), and all have some basic security features such as CRC generation. So, it is certainly likely that the BQ2025 does have some security implemented on it. It would also seem likely that it includes an SDQ
Another possibility is that the chip is being used to better conserve electricity. For example, the cable could stop drawing electricity once the connected iOS device is fully charged to provide the obvious benefit of saving power. According to research from Opower, the iPhone 5 costs a mere 41 cents annually to charge once per day. However, the focus might simply be a greener, more energy efficient product.
In terms of the security features, Chipworks noted this is “the first secure cable” it has seen with this type of security device. It also speculated that, in terms of Lightning connectors, “piracy is not a concern” for Apple:
Reverse engineering wizards over at Chipworks put the A5 chip under a microscope. Yes, it’s a Samsung – confirming our hunch. The experts came to this conclusion by putting the chip under a microscope and examining dielectric layers and the shape of the transistor gates. The teardown analysis also revealed a die almost twice the size of the A4 chip from the previous-generation iPad and iPhone 4, the 45-nanometer manufacturing process and other interesting tidbits.