Posted: September 19, 2014

Contributed by C. Young, D. Yang, R. Fontaine, J. Morrison, D. James and P. Gamache

The iPhone 6 may be the most anticipated Apple handset since the original iPhone, and with good reason. In addition to the cultural impact Apple devices have been known to have, the market capitalization of certain chip manufacturers will fluctuate by millions of dollars based on their presence or absence in this device. Whatever your preferred handset ecosystem, there is no denying that this is a release of historical importance. So without further ado, we now add our own contribution to this event by letting you see what's inside the iPhone 6.

The iPhone 6 Board

 

   

The iPhone 6 Plus Board

The NFC Controller

   

Based on historical package markings of NXP NFC controllers in our archive as well as leaked iPhone 6 board images, we expect the NFC controller to be NXP’s PN544, or a variant thereof. The widespread expectation that Apple will one day unlock the functionalities of NFC for functions other than Apple Pay also supports the prediction that a standard NFC controller would be used instead of a heavily customized device.

Having now depotted the 65V10 device, we can positively identify the NFC controller as the PN548, a previously unannounced variant of the PN544 and PN547 devices by NXP. Industry sources identify this as a design that was tweaked specifically for Apple by NXP. If this is true, Apple has had access to this chip for over 18 months, since the mask date (the date appearing on the die itself and indicating the year the design was finalized) is 2012. Indeed, the die markings of the PN548 vary only slightly from those of the PN547:

NXP                       NXP

2012                       2012

7PN547V0B         7PN548V0C

Interestingly, a second die called “008” and sporting 2013 die markings is packaged with the PN548. However, there was no die packaged with PN547 devices we have previously seen. The 008 die shows a mysteriously dense upper metal layer. Is this the Secure Element device? Time will tell.

The 6-Axis Accelerometer and Gyroscope

 

Another upset in the iPhone 6 Plus is the accelerometer and gyroscope. Traditionally, STMicroelectronics holds this slot(s). Today, however, InvenSense drops into this socket. This new 6-axis accelerometer and gyroscope is called the MP67B. According to InvenSense’s website, the second thumbnail above is how they portray the MPU series 6-axis device interfacing with a standalone compass and the APU.

The eCompass

The compass for past iPhones has always been a slot held by AKM Semiconductor. We have seen the AKM8963 in several Apple phone models, as well as phones from Samsung, LG, Motorola, Huawei, ZTE and others. Today we are quite puzzled. There is no AKM device obvious anywhere on the PCB, front or back. We see a six-axis InvenSense MPU7 series sensor, and next to it, we see what surely looks to be a 2 mm x 2 mm Bosch Sensortec device. Initially, we thought this to be the eCompass, but the package size and markings do not concur with standard eCompass devices on Bosch’s web site or with those we have previously observed. Now that we have done some lab work, this Bosch device looks like the BMA280 we have seen in dozens of handsets. Given this, two big questions arise: 1) Where is the compass? and 2) Why would Apple have two accelerometers? The answer is, simply, they wouldn’t do that. So why are there two accelerometers in these new products?

Update: BOLO on eCompass cancelled

When we closed off our blog updates last Friday, we had not found the eCompass yet and, as such, issued a BOLO (Be On the Look Out) for the compass. A diligent lab team member found it over the weekend. There were quite a few new devices this year that used package markings that we were not able to identify and also a couple devices that lay below a glob top encapsulation. One of those lying under the glob top was the eCompass.

AKM has held the eCompass slot in Apple iPhones for many generations. We were pleased to see they still hold this slot. The AKM 8963 was located under one of the glob top encapsulated devices at the extreme end of the motherboard.