What’s inside your mobile phone?

in Chip

The latest smartphones can be used to perform all manner of tasks from taking pictures to providing us with GPS navigation and from connecting to the internet with wireless technologies to listening to the radio.

But, have you ever wondered what makes your phone tick?

Here we take a look at the main components that make up a mobile phone.

Smartphone components

Mobile phone components

NAND flash is a memory chip that does not require power to retain data. Write and read cycles are however finite so memory is slowly lost over time. To combat this manufacturers often purchase this component with more memory than is described in the final products specification.

DRAM is another memory component where information can be stored and read from any position as opposed to a memory that is read in sequence. DRAM requires an electronic charge every few milliseconds to retain its information.

Display - The visual interface of a smartphone.

Application processor - This chip is designed to support the mobile operating system by controlling elements such as graphics processing, multimedia decoding and memory management. Popular examples include the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor which is used to run the Android operating system.

RF and FEM - This is the front end module that consists of a radio frequency antenna, transceiver and power amplifier. Simply put it is the component that lets the smartphone talk to the mobile phone networks cell towers.

Baseband is a chip that manages the telecommunication radio signals. It manages the functions that require an antenna excluding Bluetooth and Wi-FI.

PMIC is the power management component in a mobile phone that regulates the voltage and controls battery charging.

Power amplifier - This is the element that converts the low power radio frequency signal into a larger signal with greater power. This is used in the smartphone as part of the process for transmitting and receiving both voice and data communications.

Touch controller - This is a precision controller that identifies and tracks the users contacts with the screen whilst intelligently ignoring unintended touches.

GPS - Needs no description

Image sensor - This is the advanced image technology used to capture images and video on a smartphone. Examples include the Samsung CMOS image sensor which encompasses low-light technology and high speed frame rates with low power consumption.

Combo chip Wi-Fi/FM/BT is the chip that controls the wireless technology in a mobile phone such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and FM radio. Some of the latest versions of this chip also include GPS providing a single chip solution for manufacturers.

So those are the main components that you will find inside any modern smartphone.


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Michael Brown has 3 articles online

Michael Brown is an avid traveller and technology expert. He works as a mobile phone consultant with two decades of experience in the industry and enjoys testing and reviewing the latest mobile phones.

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This article was published on 2014/03/07