|By all accounts, the Blackberry Z10 is off to a good start……but what does it take to make a differentiated phone in today’s crowded market? It seems that a new operating system is just the ticket. As smart phone technology has matured we are not seeing brand new hardware appear at the same pace we used to. This tear down catalogs what we see in the Blackberry Z10 (shipped in from the UK) and takes you a little deeper to the silicon itself. But before we start, it is worth mentioning that our first look shows that Blackberry has paid attention to the details and build quality, right down to an elegant battery.|
|Front side of the board Quite few of the “regulars” in our little corner of the world provide the core functionality. Including:
|Back side boardHere we have a nicely integrated board designed to keep the size of the overall phone competitive. All the consumer friendly specification check-boxes are met with some impressive silicon. Some of the devices cataloged:
|Image Sensor TechnologyThe image processing chip by the front-side camera looks like a Fujitsu Milbeaut MB80645C processor. This is not unheard of in a phone, but it is uncommon (more to follow). Blackberry, by offloading the image processing to a dedicated chip, probably benefits by keeping the main processor focused on apps while the Milbeaut handles the HD. This device is a multi-chip package containing two memory die and one image processing engine (x-ray at right).The primary camera is the OmniVision OV8830. This sensor leverages OmniVision’s latest BSI2 technology, but like the rest of the phone is a tried-and-true solution that we first reported on in the Asus Transformer Prime.|
|Other ChipsNear field communications are by the SECUREAD NFC solution. This is a curious choice. Our tear downs on other phones and tablets suggest that the market leading chip is the NXP PN544 single die solution. The SECUREAD device (package photo at right), by comparison, is a large, multi-die solution. We’re not sure if there is a cost advantage to the chosen solution, and we aren’t doing any systems testing for performance here. So for now, it is what it is and we’ll add some comparative images soon. The second image is a die shot of the SECUREAD NFC.
The third image is the WCD9310 audio codec from the Qualcomm chipset.
|Other Chips (cont.)
We had one of our readers spot another really good chip story, and one that perhaps helps to differentiate Blackberry in terms of their vertical integration and wireless capabilities. There are three impedance matched BST (Barium Strontium Titanate) IC’s that were developed by a company called Paratek, which was acquired by RIM in March 2012 (the orange devices at right). They play a key role in tuning the antenna. One of the investors in Paratek calls the solution a. “game changer by allowing users to upload data faster and experience fewer dropped calls.”
The BST devices allow for the antenna tuning to be optimized depending upon conditions, thus making them adaptive. Voltages to the BST tuner IC’s are modified to maximize tuner efficiency, thus saving power and reducing dropped calls.
So the hardware story is – there’s not a whole lot to tell! We have seen most if not all of the chips before. BB has made great use of state-of the art technology, and it speaks well of the software engineers at Blackberry/QNX and the power of the Snapdragon processor that it can cope well with the heavy-duty capabilities that this device delivers.