Samsung and Huawei significantly outspend Apple on camera components

Samsung and Huawei significantly outspend Apple on camera components
Apple has been making the highest margins in the industry for years, but a preliminary bill-of-materials report shows that the latest flagship phones by Samsung and Huawei are catching up, and even outspending Apple in some key areas.

The bill of materials coming from a Cowen investor note (via AppleInsider) estimates that the camera on the iPhone XS and XS Max costs around $34.50 per device, while the camera system on the latest Samsung Galaxies costs $44 per unit and Huawei's latest P30 Pro has pushed that envelope further, to $56 for the complete set of four rear cameras including the new periscope system and one front camera. Comparing just the hardware costs for the rear cameras, Samsung and Huawei are estimated to outspend Apple 1.4 times and 1.9 times respectively.

Of course, we should add that a hardware estimation alone is not the full picture: the real smartphone camera magic is a lot due to the software and algorithms processing the image, and there are big teams behind that at all companies and obviously those costs are not reflected in the above price estimate for hardware. "Apple's greater integration of software to complement the hardware sensors is an element that cannot be fully captured in a BOM analysis," admits Cowen as well.

Huawei's P30 Pro has four cameras on its back

Huawei's P30 Pro has four cameras on its back


And then you also have companies like Google with its Pixel 3 series, which have just one rear camera, but still are able to produce truly impressive shots thanks to the excellent software processing.

And then when you compare the cost of the AMOLED screen on those three phones, you see that the Huawei P30 Pro seems to have a slightly cheaper display. While the screens on the latest iPhone (assuming, it's the XS Max) costs around $120, the screen on the P30 Pro is said to cost around $110. Interestingly, the Super AMOLED display on the Galaxy S10+ is the most expensive out of the bunch with an estimated price of $125. You should also know that the screen makes up 20% to 25% of the total bill of materials, the biggest chunk in this list.

Still, if you look at the hardware cost numbers alone, a few interesting trends do emerge, and the most important one seems to be that Samsung and Huawei seem to have arrived at charging similar margins to those at Apple for their premium phones.

The iPhone, for example, is approximated to cost in the low to mid-60% margins for the last few generations, while the newest Galaxy S10+ is estimated to sell at a margin of 57% to 60%, while the Huawei P30 Pro is said to have a cost of around 63% and 65%.

"We estimate that Apple and its peers have been able to maintain or expand hardware margins in recent years even with escalating BOM costs in certain subsystems," according to Cowen.

Interestingly, the latest rumors say that the next iPhone XS Max version will have a square camera bump and three cameras on the back, up from two in the current model. The third camera is said to be an ultra-wide angle camera that is already present on most Android flagships already on sale in 2019.

Cowen's report also points to Apple having no plans to release a 5G-enabled iPhone in 2019, while Samsung and Huawei will have such models on sale. This could be another competitive advantage that those devices will have.

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12 Comments

1. frequency

Posts: 65; Member since: Aug 13, 2013

It's Friday, where are those Sammy paid fans? I'll be very surprise if they don't attack huawei for any reason.

2. Juarizs

Posts: 42; Member since: Jan 22, 2019

It's friday, go try to relieve your stress buddy.

4. maherk

Posts: 6628; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Well, obviously Samsung is paying them more than you're getting paid by Apple, at least they can afford to take Fridays off.

6. sissy246

Posts: 6884; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

P30 pro kicks Apple and Samsungs azz with their camera so why attack. Coming from a Samsung fan

10. cmdacos

Posts: 3741; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

100% agree

3. User123456789

Posts: 178; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

So, Apple could have had a QHD for only $5 more but did not.

5. TBomb

Posts: 1000; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

What would they upgrade next year if they gave it this year?????

9. KingSam

Posts: 1329; Member since: Mar 13, 2016

It's how they handle their UI scaling. That's why they use non standard resolutions. They usually keep the ppi consistent.

11. iloveapps

Posts: 126; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

Samsung pushes their display to QHD and no one uses it because all they care is battery prolong.

12. darkkjedii

Posts: 30661; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

It shows too. My Note 9 takes better pics and vids, than my Max, and has more features.

13. Leo_MC

Posts: 6091; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Too bad about the modem...

14. Leo_MC

Posts: 6091; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Remember when I told you that both Samsung and Huawei have a ~60% margins? Next time you feel the need to contradict me remember that you need to know more than I do (and you usually don't).

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