Chipworks tears down Apple iPhone 6: Apple A8 and iSight camera secrets revealed

Chipworks tears down Apple iPhone 6: Apple A8 and iSight camera secrets revealed
The Apple iPhone 6 has arrived, but what does it feature on the inside? 

Apple has given us an official overview of the specs, but for those who want some extra details, die shots, and a really deep understanding of the chips that went in the iPhone 6, the answer arrives only now as Chipworks tears down the iPhone 6.

The teardown gives us pictures of the iPhone 6 mainboard (that most of you have already seen in leaks and in the earlier, iFixit teardown), but quickly jumps in to more detailed ‘x-ray’ images of the more notable single chips.

Apple A8 die pictures: 20nm, TSMC-made


The Apple A8 is, of course, the most interesting element in the new iPhone 6. All clues point to it being manufactured by TSMC on a 20nm node, and that makes it one of the first 20nm chips out there. The A8 is also some 13% smaller than last year’s A7, while packing nearly double the amount of transistors - up from around 1 billion to some 2 billion transistors in the Apple A8. And yes, RAM is still 1GB on the iPhone 6.

Some interesting details appear when you look at the packaging: the A8 switches to a different nomenclature, from the ‘98’ suffix for the APU (the Apple A5 was the APL0498, for instance) to an ‘11’ suffix here (the Apple A8 is marked as APL1011).

A cross section of the A8 shows that the chip is made of 10 metals in the stack. Interestingly, the die picture suggests that Apple has made some re-arrangements to the chip with what seems like the Cyclone dual-core processor now in the bottom right corner, while the GPU cluster seems to occupy the bottom left part (that’s just our guess, though).

iSight camera: a larger module, 'Focus Pixels' galore


The next major area of interest is the camera. The iSight camera keeps the sane, 1.5-micron pixel size, but interestingly, the camera module is larger on the x and y axes, while its vertical height is the same as in the iPhone 5s. Die images also show a dense array of the new ‘Focus Pixels’ (more commonly known as phase detection pixels), and at first look, it seems that Apple has packed a lot more of these pixels in comparison to, say, the Samsung Galaxy S5.

The main iSight camera is again manufactured by Sony, and it’s a stacked, Exmor RS sensor with backside illumination. The exact size of the camera module is 10.6 mm x 9.3 mm x 5.6 mm thick (vs 8.6 mm x 7.8 mm x 5.6 mm thick on the iPhone 5s), and die size stands at 4.8 mm x 6.1 mm (29.3 mm2).

You can find images of many other iPhone 6 components in the slideshow below, all courtesy of Chipworks.

source: Chipworks

Related phones

iPhone 6
  • Display 4.7" 750 x 1334 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A8, Dual-core, 1400 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 1810 mAh(14h 3G talk time)

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41 Comments

1. DogeShibe

Posts: 1121; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

More camera samples.

8. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

OK "Matli"

21. DogeShibe

Posts: 1121; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

That's not me lol

2. sar44

Posts: 278; Member since: Apr 14, 2014

again sony sensor. although in comparison it was already clear ifail as usualhttps://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/361x729q90/538/gk9sUE.jpg lenovo k920 and galaxy alpha the best

14. Genza

Posts: 576; Member since: Mar 12, 2014

Camera comparison between iPhone 5s vs Alpha vs Z3C and Canon 70D as a reference. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9JO568hd3Dc

31. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

The best what? Androids? Sampled phones? Because I know neither of those can touch a PureView Lumia (92# or better, haven't seen comparisons of the 830 yet)

3. HamzAmin

Posts: 81; Member since: Aug 15, 2014

1 GB RAM. :D Hilarious

4. DogeShibe

Posts: 1121; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

Its optimized well so ... *looks for red down*

9. HamzAmin

Posts: 81; Member since: Aug 15, 2014

Optimized for what? Temple Run?

10. irbaaz

Posts: 175; Member since: Mar 27, 2014

modern combat 5 lol check the new article...

37. pulkit1

Posts: 354; Member since: Jul 03, 2014

are you stupid it is optimised for modern combat 5 (metal go look f0r trailer ) , rr3 and all the games on app store some not even available on play store . Stop being a paranoid hater and understand that iOS runs fine on 1 gb ram . Price vs specification is a whole different argument .

44. HamzAmin

Posts: 81; Member since: Aug 15, 2014

Multitasking????? Any comebacks?

46. pulkit1

Posts: 354; Member since: Jul 03, 2014

what multitasking , what multitasking do you expect from your phone . Its is not like people download torrents while surfing Facebook because seriously use your laptop anything other than such situations iPhone does just fine. Actually use it sometime then comment .

43. rf1975

Posts: 264; Member since: Aug 01, 2011

Yeah, But some Android device with 2GB out there still can not run Temple run smoothly...

5. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

More like good for nothing, useless . We can enjoy the fake multitasking.

20. KonaStang4.6

Posts: 285; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

3 GB of RAM in most Android phones and they still lag. What's your point ?

25. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

Halfbaked vs full fledged OS. iBoy.

38. pulkit1

Posts: 354; Member since: Jul 03, 2014

nothing is half baked it can do everything normal user expects from a smartphone (excluding tasker and torrent ). Have you even grasped the api that are now public on iOS 8 ?

41. Armchair_Commentator

Posts: 222; Member since: May 08, 2014

Maybe stock, but all these skins companies put on are like adding a trailer hitch to your sports car

42. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

yes half OS cause i can only half call, half text, half play games. Face it the ios8 modern combat and the gpu to begin with is better than androids flavors. not only that, no game uses 3gb, no game uses 1gb of ram, because of the way the os is optimized, it takes what it needs. Think of it this way. Currently phones are chasing last gen consoles for graphics. last gen consoles have 512mb of ram. Of which about 450 is usable.

33. DarkStar286

Posts: 229; Member since: Mar 18, 2014

there's a lot of poor specs on the Ipone 6/6 Plus, but RAM isn't one of them. iOS (despite how much I hate it) is an incredibly efficiently written OS that makes far better uses of the resources at hand than Android does. Plus it does't do multitasking, so more RAM would just be a waste.

6. rency0722

Posts: 158; Member since: Jun 12, 2013

This just does mean Sony will also utilize Phase Detection Autofocus real soon.

12. vuyonc

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

I'm surprised they didn't use it in the Z3 and Compact. While not dealbreaking, the gap between their camera division and mobile division is way too big. Z4 should try match the Alpha 6000's claimed speed.

7. enthasuium

Posts: 150; Member since: Nov 21, 2013

The Biggest secret is They are Power hungry #ifailed

11. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

How is that a secret? The 5S started the trend in short iToy battery life.

22. KonaStang4.6

Posts: 285; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

iToy ? You can do better than that....

26. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

Did he hurt your iFeelings, iBoy? More like your comeback was weak. D you want some iGrass?

39. pulkit1

Posts: 354; Member since: Jul 03, 2014

and how short is 5s battery have you ever used 5s long enough to comment on its battery life? It is better than nexus 5 and yet no one seems to comment on that .

13. TylerGrunter

Posts: 1544; Member since: Feb 16, 2012

It's a pity that the image is not bigger/clearer. Because I found something interesting but I can't confirm it: There are only 4 modules in the GPU, so it is actually the PowerVR GX6450 and not the GX6650 as many people claimed. But it's just a guess as there is the possibility that the two modules I don't see are in some other place in the SOC. So I'll wait for Anandtech to confirm my hunch.

15. JC557

Posts: 1925; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

I think this will be the first iPhone review not written or analyzed by Anand. Hopefully whoever took his place will do just as thorough an analysis as he did (the other writers always do for other items but there's a good chance it'll be different).

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