Samsung’s Galaxy S9 Plus is $43 more expensive to make than the Galaxy S8 Plus, according to the latest estimate from IHS Markit. The market research company’s findings indicate the base model of the tech giant’s latest 6.2-inch Android flagship has a bill of materials amounting to $375.80, thus dwarfing any other Samsung-made handset to date in terms of manufacturing costs and being around the price of the iPhone X. IHS attributed the record-breaking figure to the rising prices of NAND flash memory; despite the fact that Samsung’s high-end smartphones feature memory chips made by its sister firm, the phone maker still must compete with its supplier alongside third parties.
The massive demand for memory chips that drove up the price of the Galaxy S9 Plus is also the reason why Samsung as a whole has been enjoying historic performance in recent quarters, having managed to become the world’s largest chipmaker and dethroning Intel after decades of its dominance in the segment. Another factor contributing to the overall cost of making the Galaxy S9 Plus is its dual-camera setup whose main lens features a variable aperture which can mechanically change between f/1.5 and f/2.4 f-stops. As that feature is enabled by additional moving parts which usually aren’t found in mobile imaging systems, the components made for the Galaxy S9 Plus proved to be unprecedentedly costly to make. Should Samsung stick with variable-aperture lenses and prompt the rest of the industry to follow suit, such modules are likely to experience a sharp drop in price going forward once more camera makers adjust their production lines to output them. In the traditional photography industry, variable-aperture lenses are cheaper to make and objectively inferior to glass capable of maintaining an identical aperture throughout its zoom range.
Despite incurring unprecedented manufacturing costs and contrary to industry expectations, Samsung hasn’t increased the price of the Galaxy S9 lineup compared to the Galaxy S8 series in most markets, with the exception being several countries like India where the company was recently hit with additional import taxes. All imaging sensors including the iris scanner cost Samsung $44.95 per device, with the variable-aperture camera accounting for $34.95 of that sum. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 is estimated to cost $67, whereas the new Infinity Display Super AMOLED panel is the most expensive component of the Galaxy S9 Plus, being priced at $79 per unit, as per the same report.