As has been well-documented since the announcement of the Galaxy S4, yes – it is made from plastic; that’s been established, that’s a given. But while the plastic exterior may place it below the likes of the iPhone 5 and HTC One in the minds of those looking for a handset of superior build quality, it doesn’t necessarily make the Galaxy S4 cheaper to build. In fact, while many have accused Samsung of “scrimping” on the outer shell, the Korean company actually spends more per handset than Apple does with the iPhone 5 – a testament once again to just how much high-spec hardware is packed into the latest and greatest Galaxy S revision.
Research firm IHS has torn down the 32GB version of the Galaxy S4, and has found that each unit costs Samsung a cool $237. While this is perhaps not much in relation to how much the consumer winds up paying off-contract, it is quite a bit more than the cost of the 16GB base model iPhone 5, which sets Apple back approximately $205 per unit.
Even with the iPhone 5′s anodized aluminum body, the Galaxy S4 is the more expensive to make, and although the NFC, ambient temperature and humidity sensors, quad- / octa-core processors, (insert seemingly endless list of specs here), will certainly have driven up the costing involved in bringing the Galaxy S4 to market, one might still perhaps have expected the iPhone 5′s glass and metal construction to have commanded a higher total expense.
Notably, IHS used the quad-core U.S. variant of the Galaxy S4, and if you were also to factor in the Exynos octa-core chip of the Asian variant of the device, this adds another $8 to the bill.
Since the prices are estimations, there’s no true way to gauge either way, but one thing that is clear is just how both Apple and Samsung are raking in billions in profit. As the companies continue to squabble in the courtrooms about who’s been copying who, both are rather comfortably perched atop the pile in the smartphone industry, and with millions likely to continue turning out to spend close to $1000 on these circa $200 handsets, don’t be surprised to see the two-pronged domination continue.