Chipworks recently "tore down" the Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) Galaxy S7 and revealed the identities of many of the component suppliers inside of the device. Although Samsung doesn't sell anywhere near the number of high-end Galaxy S-series units as rival Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) does of its flagship iPhones, the Galaxy S/Note phones still represent important opportunities for smartphone component suppliers.
In this article I'd like to take a look at four companies that lost spots in the Galaxy S7 relative to last year's Galaxy S6.
No. 1: InvenSense
Motion processor vendor InvenSense (NYSE: INVN) provided both the gyroscope and the accelerometer (as one chip) in the form of the MPU-6500 chip in last year's Galaxy S6. However, the Galaxy S7 completely eliminates the InvenSense chip in favor of a gyroscope from ST Micro (NYSE:STM).
InvenSense made it clear on its most recent earnings call that it had lost this spot, claiming that Samsung's strategic focus is on "severe cost reduction at the expense of performance."
InvenSense management did offer some indication that there's a shot that it will be designed into the upcoming Galaxy Note 6 that will likely be launched this fall. The Note family of phones tends to sell in far lower quantities than the Galaxy S family, but at this point InvenSense should benefit from any business that it can get.
No. 2: Cirrus Logic
Though its acquisition of Wolfson Microelectronics, audio chipmaker Cirrus Logic (NASDAQ:CRUS) managed to score the audio codec spots inside of the Galaxy S6. Indeed, because Samsung opted not to use a Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) chipset (Qualcomm usually bundles its own audio codec with its Snapdragon processors), Cirrus/Wolfson won the entirety of the S6.
However, with the S7, Qualcomm is back and in the variants of the S7 that use the Qualcomm processor, Cirrus is out. On Cirrus' most recent earnings call, the company did indicate that the split between Qualcomm-powered S7 phones and Samsung-powered (and thus Cirrus/Wolfson powered) is "something more in the 60/40 range and in a positive direction for [Cirrus Logic]."
Fortunately for Cirrus, however, current rumors suggest that it will be seeing a significant increase in content within the upcoming iPhone 7/7 Plus, which -- given the kinds of volumes iPhone ships in -- could more than offset the loss associated with the S7.
No. 3: ST Micro
Although ST Micro won the accelerometer/gyroscope spot inside of the S7/S7 Edge, the company did end up losing the touch controller spot to an in-house Samsung controller. It would seem that this shift to Samsung-designed touch controllers -- at least in the premium phones -- is fairly permanent, so ST Micro and its competitors shouldn't count on being able to grab this spot in the future.
No. 4: TSMC
Although Samsung used its own, in-house applications processor for the S6, it did use stand-alone modems sourced from Qualcomm for models sold in some regions/on some carriers. The Qualcomm modems that Samsung used for some of these S6 models were built on TSMC's (NYSE:TSM) 20-nanometer chip manufacturing technology.
The S7 uses applications processors integrated with cellular modems built by Samsung (both the Samsung-designed Exynos 8890 and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 are manufactured by Samsung), so TSMC is 100% out of the baseband spot inside of the Galaxy S7/S7 Edge.