Apple also bumped up the system memory in the iPhone 3G S, from the 128MB of the iPhone 3G to 256MB. "That means they really can consider doing some multitasking capability," said Vronko, talking about the background processing that the iPhone current lacks. The iPhone has been dinged since it debuted for its inability to run more than one application at a time. Apple, which has said it based its decision on power consumption issues, has bent a bit by adding what it calls "push notification" to the iPhone 3.0 software.
"I think it's more on the hardware side that Apple's decided to not do multitasking," said Vronko, "not the battery. I don't think running two applications [at the same time] would really make much of a difference in the battery life."
The rest of the iPhone 3G S is nearly identical to last year's iPhone 3G, Vronko noted. "The modules were in the same places and attached the same way, with a couple of exceptions, so it's clear that Apple is happy with the design," said Vronko.
That also means that Apple's profit margin is likely even higher on the new model, since it's probably already amortized the design costs. "The cost per unit is lower than it's ever been," said Vronko, who acknowledged that he hasn't yet done a cost-of-goods analysis of the parts uncovered by his teardown. "But I'm convinced that Apple is making money hand over fist on these."
It's also likely that the iPhone 3G S is the last in the original design line. "I don't see anything too revolutionary here," said Vronko. "They'll need a totally fresh design going forward," he added, "if they want to move forward."
As to that, what, if anything, did he see from the teardown that might hint at Apple's future plans for, say, a "tweener" device between the $299 iPhone and the $999 MacBook? Not much, said Vronko. "There's not a lot here that would suggest the current design could support something like an ultra-small PC or netbook."
Apple has repeatedly said it's not interested in the netbook category, but most analysts have come around to the idea that the company must, and will, play in that market, perhaps with a tablet-like device that's akin to an iPod Touch "on steroids," as Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at Technology Business Research has put it.
Vronko plans to continue to pull apart the iPhone 3G S to ferret out more information. "I still haven't found what powers the digital compass," he said.
Rapid Repair has also posted a comparison chart that details the internals of the iPhone 3G S, the first-generation iPhone, 2008's iPhone 3G and Palm's new Pre smartphone.
This story, "IPhone 3G S Teardown Reveals Significant Speed Boost" was originally published by Computerworld.