iPhone 13 Pro costs Apple $21 more to build than iPhone 12 Pro, study finds

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Build costs for Apple latest iPhone 13 Pro are slightly higher than those of last year's iPhone 12 Pro, according to new research, with steeper prices for the new handset's A-series processor, NAND flash memory and display subsystem listed as major contributors to the hike.

Computer hardware specialist Techinsights conducted a teardown and cost analysis of iPhone 13 Pro and estimates build costs for the handset to come in at $570, assumedly for a base model with 128GB of storage. That figure is $21.50 higher than the firm's estimates for iPhone 12 Pro.

As expected, new components and systems in iPhone 13 Pro account for a bulk of the increase assigned by Techinsights. Singled out in today's report are the A15 Bionic processor, rear-facing camera sensors, repackaged and redesigned TrueDepth array, and ProMotion display. On the latter, the display subsystem is said to carry a higher estimated cost, though the LTPO panel itself might also be more expensive than the OLED used on iPhone 13.

An in-depth analysis of iPhone's onboard silicon reveals the company is potentially continuing its strategy of disabling GPUs on A-series chips outfitted in lower-end hardware. For 2021, the base model iPhone 13 features an A15 with four GPU cores, while the system-on-chip processor in the "Pro" variant has five GPU cores. According to Techinsights, the A15 dies used in iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro bear identical marks — TMMU71 — and are the same size, suggesting both boast the same number of GPUs.

The jump in price between iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro is much less pronounced than the increase from iPhone 11 and iPhone 12. A similar analysis performed by Counterpoint Research in January estimated iPhone 12's bill of materials at $415, some 21% more dear than that of its predecessor, mainly due to a litany of hardware upgrades including 5G components and a switch from LCD to OLED screen technology.

It should be noted that firms like Techinsights do not have vision into Apple's manufacturing supply chain, component supply deals or manufacturing orders. Estimates are typically valued based on market standard rates, which might not apply to companies working at Apple's scale. Indeed, Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly dismissed bill of materials and build estimate analysis as largely inaccurate.

Apple debuted iPhone 13 Pro in September at the same $999 starting price as last year's iPhone 12 Pro. This year, a new 1TB storage option takes the handset up to $1,499.