Bunnie Huang paid a visit to Shenzhen's Mingtong Digital Mall and found a $12 mobile phone, with Bluetooth, an MP3 player, an OLED display and quad-band GSM. For $12.
Bunnie's teardown shows a little bit about how this $12 piece of electronics can possibly be profitable, but far more tantalizing are his notes about Gongkai, "a network of ideas, spread peer-to-peer, with certain rules to enforce sharing and to prevent leeching." It's the Pearl River Delta's answer to the open source hardware movement, and Bunnie promises to write more about it soon.
How is this possible? I don’t have the answers, but it’s something I’m trying to learn. A teardown yields a few hints.
First, there are no screws. The whole case snaps together.
Also, there are (almost) no connectors on the inside. Everything from the display to the battery is soldered directly to the board; for shipping and storage, you get to flip a switch to hard-disconnect the battery. And, as best as I can tell, the battery also has no secondary protection circuit.
The Bluetooth antenna is nothing more than a small length of wire, seen on the lower left below.
Still, the phone features accoutrements such as a back-lit keypad and decorative lights around the edge.
The electronics consists of just two major ICs: the Mediatek MT6250DA, and a Vanchip VC5276. Of course, with price competition like this, Western firms are suing to protect ground: Vanchip is in a bit of a legal tussle with RF Micro, and Mediatek has also been subject to a few lawsuits of its own.
The MT6250 is rumored to sell in volume for under $2. I was able to anecdotally confirm the price by buying a couple of pieces on cut-tape from a retail broker for about $2.10 each. [No, I will not broker these chips or this phone for you...]
The $12 Gongkai Phone
The flashlights in our household have a tendency to wander off. Where do they go? I gave my last remaining one to my daughter for a camping trip, so I just reordered an 8-pack of metal LED flashlights for $14. Each flashlight has 9 LEDs and uses 3 AAA cells (included, though some reviewers on […]
Unlike a multimeter, this battery tester isn’t battery powered. Instead, it measures the voltage across the terminals of 9V, AA, AAA, C, D and 1.5V button type batteries. It’s also easier to use than multimeter probes. It’s only $6.61 on Amazon and has a 4.5 star rating with over 1500 reviews.
This handheld magnifying glass has two bright LEDs and is powered by 3 AAA cells (not included). The manufacturer says the magnification is 40X. I think it is less than that, but it is still plenty powerful for my needs – mainly, reading the markings on tiny electrical components and checking the layer fusion on […]
Watching Netflix, Hulu or other streaming services can unfortunately be difficult while traveling outside the US. Rather than bypass these restrictions with the help of a complex and slow VPN, choose a faster and simpler solution with Getflix. Instead of rerouting all your Internet traffic through a different server, this handy service only routes the […]
Shake, stir, and muddle your way to delicious homemade cocktails with this must-have bar set. Expect only the finest quality tools from MakersKit — enabling you to unleash your inner mixologist.Top 12 Favorite Things of 2014, Sunset MagazineQuart-size vintage-style Mason jar shakerRetro double jigger for accurate measurementsStrainer & spouts for a mixologist-style smooth pourHardwood muddler […]
The Lytro Illum dares to be different, boasting even more robust features than its first generation predecessor and a sleek design reminiscent of professional DSLRs. What’s so cool about it? Most cameras capture the position of light rays, producing a statoc 2D image.