Breaking Down SoftBank's 'Internet Machine' [Part 1]

May 8, 2008
Nikkei Electronics Teardown Squad

As indicated by the name "Internet Machine," the 922SH handset is designed primarily to view Websites and use online services. This article delves into the internal hardware structure revealed by breaking down the handset.

A handset equipped with a QWERTY keyboard and a 3.5-inch landscape-oriented LCD display for the comfortable browsing of PC Web sites: This is the selling point of the "Internet Machine SoftBank 922SH" released by SoftBank Mobile Corp in March 2008.

After being disassembled, it was determined that a number of components in the 922SH were identical to those used in the "FULLFACE2 SoftBank 921SH" and other models developed by Sharp Corp. The 921SH also shares many parts with other Sharp handsets (See related article 1). This implies that the company intends to reduce component costs by standardization.

The Internet capable mobile phones are still expensive in Japan, slightly less than ¥100,000 if bought outright with a new contract. One of the factors driving up the price is probably the high number of components.

One of the differences from the 921SH was the sensor unit. To enable mobile phone functionality with the handset closed, the 922SH employs a mechanism called a "Sensor Key." With the use of a touch sensor, a certain portion of the chassis acts as a button when it is pushed.

While the 921SH also uses a touch sensor, the 922SH was different in that it can be operated by "tracing" with a fingertip and by "shaking" with the use of an angular velocity sensor.

Striking differences between the two models were the design concepts, which feature unique user interfaces by providing different keyboards, screens and sensors, etc, while sharing the same basic hardware such as the application processor and communication LSI. The concept seems rational because many mobile Internet terminals are differentiated by the user interface.

The following pages describe the details of the main board, the sensor unit arranged on the chassis on the LCD panel side and each of the antennas on the chassis on the main camera side. Like the previous operations, the investigation was carried out with the cooperation of Fomalhaut Techno Solutions. (See related article 1, 2)

Product NameInternet Machine SoftBank 922SH
ManufacturerSharp
DimensionsAbout 56 x 116 x 17mm (when folded, excluding protrusions)
MassAbout 132g
Battery standby timeAbout 340 hours (in resting state, when folded, W-CDMA network), about 310 hours (in resting state, when folded, GSM network)
Talk timeAbout 250 minutes (W-CDMA network), about 270 minutes (GSM network)
Display3.5-inch (480 x 854 pixels)
Memory cardmicroSD and microSDHC memory cards
CameraEffective pixel count: 2 Mpixels (main), 0.11 Mpixels (sub)
Battery3.7V, 820mAh

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The main board was arranged under the keypad. The keypad circuitry was mounted on the side under the keypad and LSI chips on the other side (main camera side). A sub board, equipped with the USIM and microSD/SDHC memory card slots, was mounted on the main camera side. The structure that has the card slots on a separate board is identical to that of the 921SH.

Many of the LSI chips on the main board were same as those used in the 921SH or made by the same manufacturers. The LSI used for the W-CDMA communication was a product of Ericsson of Sweden, and the application processor was made by Toshiba Corp.

These components both had the same part numbers as the components in the 921SH. The 1seg tuner module was likely made by Sharp. But the IC incorporated in the tuner module had a model number different from that in the 921SH or in its predecessor "Fullface SoftBank 913SH."

The flash memory was the only major LSI supplied by a different manufacturer. While the flash memory used in the 922SH is believed to be made by Franco-Italian joint venture STMicroelectronics, the 921SH is equipped with a product of Spansion of the US.

The main camera of the 922SH uses a CMOS sensor with an effective pixel count of 2 Mpixels. The 913SH incorporates a camera with an image sensor of the same resolution. We broke down these camera modules and discovered that the number of lenses and the dimensions of the sensor in the both modules were equal.

This may indicate that the camera module in the 922SH and the 913SH are the same components. However, these modules had different model numbers, ie "W8WSLB 28295" on the 922SH and "W7WSLA 64044" on the 913SH.