Every time Apple builds a new device, search firm IHS takes a look at the parts and tries to estimate the bill-of-materials for the new gadget. The resulting price is a rough approximation of what it costs Apple to build each iPhone, which can provide some idea of what Apple makes on the sale of each device to consumers.
IHS provided AllThingsD with an early peek at its evaluation of this year’s new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, and finds that Apple probably spends a minimum of $191 on the iPhone 5s with 16GB of onboard storage, plus $8 for assembly for a total cost of $199 per device. At the top end, a 64GB iPhone 5s probably costs around $208 for Apple, which is close to the estimate for the iPhone 5, which was said to have cost a minimum of $205 by IHS last year, for the lowest storage option.
The iPhone 5c is estimated to have a total cost of around $173 to start for the 16GB model, or $183 for the $32GB version, which includes $7 for assembly. As is generally the case, Apple has managed to reduce costs vs. previous versions, all the while introducing unique new components like the fingerprint sensor ($7 per) and the RF chips that IHS says are uniquely designed for Apple to be able to handle 13 LTE bands. Both the 5s and the 5c contain the same mix of RF chips, which clock in at around $32 per unit, which is still cheaper than the $34 estimated for the iPhone 5′s 5-band LTE radio.
Apple never reveals its device or supply costs, and there’s no real way of knowing exactly how close IHS got to getting the prices right. Suffice it to say is that it’s fair to assume they’re in the right ballpark, given their experience and long history. The key takeaway here is that Apple’s ability to massage supply prices lower and drive margins up seems in no danger of slipping, and in fact, given this information, Cook and his efficiency expertise could be more effective than ever.