During 52[SUP]nd[/SUP] DAC, there was a special session where a brand new Apple watch was opened and each of its components was shown with a brief description about it. I found this tear down session a great innovative idea coming from DAC organizers; actually two buzzing products, AppleWatch and DJI’s Phantom Drone were opened and their internals shown in this session. Earlier I had also reviewed some of the analysis done by Chipworks about Apple Watch. Since there is so much buzz about the Apple Watch, it’s a natural curiosity to know more about this smartwatch. This could be a turning point in the watch industry.
The design seemed to be very compact and unique; a package of size 26 mm x 28 mm contained more than 30 components. A common motherboard with all of its components is over-moulded with a packaging compound. Then there are sensor, touch controller, and others in the package. Every component has been sourced from a prominent and reputed vendor in that space.
There is a 3D digital accelerometer and a 3D digital gyroscope in a LGA (Land Grid Array) package from STMicroelectronics. It has a 6 axis sensor for acceleration and roll, pitch and yaw which is a shift from iPhone 6 where Apple has an Invensense6 axis sensor and a Bosch 3 axis accelerometer.
There is a capacitive touch screen controller from ADI. The operational amplifier, OPA2376 which has excellent precision, low noise, and low quiescent current is from Texas Instruments. TI also supplied some battery management components. There is an Apple designed processor, manufactured by Samsungat 28nm LP process node. The power management unit is from Dialog. The Codec and audio amplifier are from Maxim; the watch has microphone and call facility. STMicroelectronics also supplied ST32 MCU and optical emitter/sensor encoder die for the Apple watch.
One great aspect of the Apple watch is that it is Apple Pay enabled and one can make calls through the watch. For this there is BroadcomWiFi SoC BCM4334, and a NFC controller from NXP. There also is a NFC signal booster AS3923 from AMS. A few analog components including WiFi LNA (Low Noise Amplifier) and power amplifier are from a fast emerging company, Skyworks.
All of these components are on a single package; some of the components such as the processor and DRAM contain multiple die. This along with other individual components in the watch such as a Taptic Engine, a Digital Crown and others make it a very compact piece. The watch has an innovative pressure-sensitive display, called Force Touch, which senses how hard users are pressing down the screen. Depending on the strength of the taps on the screen, different functions are activated; that’s an innovative idea to enable a number of functions on that small screen. Summing up everything together, Apple Watch has a great architecture and is a great start to rejuvenate the smartwatch market. However, more needs to be done by Apple for this product market.
Although the Apple’s Watch launch was heard across the world, the actual sales numbers are yet to be seen. One major concern is about dependence of the Apple Watch on iPhone. Its utility is significantly reduced without an iPhone paired with it. So, the question of need again arises here. If one has an iPhone, then why does he need an Apple Watch? The Apple Watch has to have an independent identity of its own. It needs to work without an iPhone in all scenarios satisfying the needs of people as they expect in it and not by comparing with other watches in the BasselWorld.
Apple is already considering reducing the dependency of Apple Watch on iPhone. However we need to see how independent the second version of Apple Watch is. We know Apple’s perseverance about improving their products version after version. That being the notion about Apple, many people across the world are waiting for the second and third versions of Apple Watch to appear before jumping to buy Apple Watch.
The journey for smartwatches to concur the traditional watch industry has begun. I believe Apple will gradually improve their smartwatch to the point what the market desires and that will be the day of smartwatches in the large watch industry.
Pawan Kumar Fangaria
Founder & President at www.fangarias.com