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iPhone 6S teardowns show Apple is paying more for longevity

Apple isn't skimping on components, with a piece-by-piece analysis of the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus showing that the smartphones offer improved durability and lifespan.

Josh Miller/CNET

Worried about how long your new iPhone will last? Worry no more, because Apple is paying more to put its new iPhones together, and a longer lifespan and improved resale value seem to be the name of the game.

That's what research firm IHS Technology has said after its latest teardowns of the two new smartphones from the Cupertino, California-based tech giant.

IHS found that Apple is paying as much as $16 more per unit to assemble the new 16GB iPhone 6S Plus when compared with last year's iPhone 6 Plus, and the extra spending is covering not only new features like 3D Touch and Taptic feedback, but studier components to improve your iPhone's life expectancy.

"With each generation [Apple] makes measured, incremental technology improvements to its iPhone line, and this time around those changes are increasing Apple's per-unit material cost," said Andrew Rassweiler, senior director of cost benchmarking services for IHS Technology.

Given Apple's new Upgrade program, where iPhone owners (currently in the US only) can upgrade to the latest model every year for a small monthly fee, it makes sense for the handset maker to double down on longevity and resale value of its handsets.

IHS' breakdown of the 16GB iPhone 6S Plus revealed around $232 worth of components. The bill of materials covered a strengthened aluminium frame (no bendgate here), a Gorilla Glass 4 screen, better water-resistant seals and an upgraded camera and wireless modem.

Given the larger screen size, improved battery life was also a welcome addition. The 2,750mHa battery itself is slightly smaller than the one found in the original iPhone 6 Plus, but new power-saving features and processors mean an improved lifespan.

The research firm has taken a detailed look at several Apple products over the years, including previous iPhone models, Macbooks and the Apple Watch. The breakdown of the iPhone 6 suggested that the parts and manufacturing cost of the iPhone 6 Plus added up to 29.4 percent of the device's suggested retail price, where the figure for the iPhone 6 was 31 percent.

While Apple might be paying more for components in the 16GB iPhone 6S Plus, it won't be taking too big a hit on sale price. IHS figures suggest that the total cost sits at around 31.5 percent of the retail price of $749.

One area where Apple stands to turn a larger profit is in the iPhone models with the higher storage models.

"NAND Flash is now so cheap it's almost irrelevant, but Apple monetizes this difference with consumers, to the tune of $100 for each additional step up in memory capacity," Rassweiler said. "For example, a 64 GB iPhone now costs Apple about $17 more to make than a 16 GB iPhone, but Apple charges iPhone buyers $100 more for the increased memory."

Here's a closer look under the hood of the iPhone 6S Plus:

IHS Technology