3GS has 2 US FCC IDs?!

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by NathanA, Aug 1, 2009.

  1. NathanA macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    #1
    Okay, so I just noticed something odd...

    My original 3GS has stamped on the back of it FCC ID BCGA1303A. My replacement 3GS from AppleCare that just came a couple of days ago has FCC ID BCGA1303B!

    Both are black 32GB 3GS phones. Both have the same designated Apple model number (MB717LL).

    And when I look up both models in the FCC database, I cannot spot any differences between them when comparing documents! (Only thing that I thought was sort of weird was that the testing reports for the WLAN/WiFi was done for one device, while the WWAN/cellular radio testing was published for the other, even though both devices were certified for all the frequencies covered by both WLAN and WWAN radios. Huh.)

    I'm sure that what we have here is NOT two different revisions of the device, A and B, with B being released at a later date to either correct engineering in hardware or reduce cost of manufacture. The reason I say this is because both devices were submitted for testing to the FCC on the same day, AND both devices were approved on the same day! (And it was a 16GB white phone in the pictures, and if you look closely at the external pictures, the only one that differs between the two is in fact the shot of the back, and both phones clearly show an FCC ID on themselves different from the other.) Not only that, but it is clear that both devices are being manufactured concurrently and distributed simultaneously within the US.

    Neither the original iPhone nor the iPhone 3G were registered under multiple different FCC ID numbers. So why would Apple have the 3GS approved twice, and go through the trouble of manufacturing 2 different plastic backs for all 4 models (16GB and 32GB black and white, A and B; so 8 total different pieces of plastic that have to be stocked)?

    Very odd!

    BCGA1303A documents
    BCGA1303B documents

    -- Nathan
     
  2. NathanA thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    #2
    After further examination of the internal pictures of both, it appears that there are differences between some of those pictures. Some of them are shared, but one shot of the top of the board is different...the serial numbers on the two stickers don't match, and one board is rotated 180 degrees vs. the other. The top of both boards look roughly identical, with the exception of some slight cosmetic differences between the etching on the PCBs themselves which suggests two different manufacturers for the mainboards.

    The more interesting thing, though, is that all of the pictures of the bottom of both boards are unique, and the differences (besides the same aforementioned cosmetic ones) seem to be focused on the Wifi+Bluetooth chip on the bottom. On the last internal device picture, the metal shield is removed, and we can see 2 distinct layouts/versions of the "daughterboard" that the Broadcom chip is mounted on.

    I suppose that if Apple had contracted out to 2 different manufacturers to make the boards and especially the raised part that the WiFi chip sits on top of, that this difference in manufacturing between the two would be enough for the FCC to require separate certification for both versions. Why they are being built differently and concurrently is still a mystery to me, though. :)

    (Conspiracy theorist cap on: because the markings on all of the ICs are blacked out in all of the internal photos on the FCC's site, we really don't actually even know for sure whether it is even the same WiFi chip being used on both versions of the device. Perhaps there are two different suppliers of WiFi+Bluetooth chips for the 3GS, and Broadcom happens to be one of them? Or perhaps thee are two different Broadcom chips being used for some reason? Does the iPhone OS show signs of including more than 1 WiFi driver for the 3GS? The teardown photos from iFixIt and phoneWreck both clearly show an 'A' style PCB, so perhaps nobody has ever actually looked at the inside of a 'B' style phone up close yet!)

    Both my 'A' phone and 'B' phone perform equally as well (read: poorly, relative to my 3G, but there are already enough threads on that subject) on WiFi as the other one does; neither model seems to have an advantage over the other that I have been able to measure.

    -- Nathan
     
  3. The Californian macrumors 68040

    The Californian

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    #3
    Hmmmmm ... This is interesting. Thanks for your research.
     
  4. Ksg89 macrumors member

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    Jun 1, 2009
    #4
    Very interesting, I got my 3GS (Black, 16gb UK) at launch and it is the B version.
     
  5. romracer macrumors newbie

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    Aug 1, 2009
    #5
    Very odd indeed. It doesn't seem the "B" version is AppleCare only though. I bought my phone about a week after launch from the Apple Online Store. I live in the US and it was shipped to me from Shenzhen, CN which we know at least FoxConn has manufacturing there. This might suggest the daughterboards are built elsewhere and shipped to FoxConn for finally assembly.

    My phone also appears to be a "B" version based on the FCC ID on the back (16gb black US AT&T)
     
  6. rjohnstone macrumors 68040

    rjohnstone

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    Location:
    PHX, AZ.
    #6
    Mine has a "B" FCC ID and I got mine from an AT&T store on launch day.
    I don't think there is any significance to it at all.
     
  7. fireshot91 macrumors 601

    fireshot91

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    Location:
    Northern VA
    #7
    Mine's the A version, and I bought my 32GB White 3GS on launch from apple.com preordered.
     
  8. vizkiz macrumors 6502a

    vizkiz

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    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    #8
    What I find funny is, when you look at the confidentiality request for both of them, it is clear that two different people signed them. I know, like many people, my signature never looks the same twice. Those are obviously two different handwriting styles.

    Also, many of the photos between the two are the same. Looking at the exterior photos, the both clearly have the same evaluation unit number on the front. How can units with two different FCC ID's have the same unit number?
     
  9. NathanA thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 9, 2008
    #9
    I disagree. The signatures look similar enough that I could easily believe (and do believe) that they were in fact written by the same person.

    Right; I believe that I already touched on this. They acutally reused several of the same internal and external shots between the two applications, probably because in those shots there was likely no difference between the two models, so why reproduce work that had already been done?, is I'm sure what their reasoning was behind the photo reuse.

    The only photo that is different amongst the external shots is in fact the shot of the back of the phone where the FCC ID is located. The photos that are different internally mostly have to do with the back of the main circuit board, concentrated on the WiFi chip area.

    -- Nathan
     
  10. NathanA thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 9, 2008
    #10
    I agree, especially since both phones' communications systems (and specifically the WiFi itself, which is where I think the actual physical difference lies) appear to perform identically.

    I'm just fascinated by it, is all. And curious about the actual difference(s) and reason(s) behind it/them. :)

    -- Nathan
     
  11. vizkiz macrumors 6502a

    vizkiz

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    #11
    I disagree.
    Case:
    1: The Back line on the 'R' is curved on "A" and straight on "B"
    2: The beginning of the top curve of 'R' on "A" is tight and concise, whereas it is large and elaborate on "B"
    3: The curve in the middle portion of the front of the letter 'R' is rounded on "A" and sharp on "B"
    4: The bottom of the front of t"he letter 'R' moves towards the 'o' on "A" whereas it goes down and stops on "B"
    5: The 'o' loops out towards 'b' on "A" and seems to include the letter b on "B"
    6: After the 'b' there is one arc, then the 't' on "A" but two arcs after the 'b' on "B"
    7: The cross part on the 't' in the first name on "A" goes straight across, whereas it moves upward on "B"
    8: The arc after the 't' on "A" is low and narrow, but is short and wide on "B"
    9: The 'S' seems to start from nowhere on "A" while it is led into on "B"
    10: The 'b' on "A" leads straight across to a large elaborate arc over the last name, whereas the 'b' on "B" contains the proper arc after the letter, then an upward movement into low arc going through the last name

    Just sayin....
     

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  12. mackmgg macrumors 65816

    mackmgg

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    Nov 2, 2007
    #12
    Another minor difference is that there are a few typos in the 'A' one such as "Confidentialty"
     
  13. NovemberWhiskey macrumors 68030

    NovemberWhiskey

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    May 18, 2009
    #13
    Dude, you are over-thinking it. They are similar enough to reasonably assume it is the same guy. Every one of my personal signatures looks different.
     
  14. neil1980 macrumors 6502

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    Nov 1, 2008
    #14
    Agreed... I can sign my name twice within a few minutes and they look more different than those two look different
     
  15. vizkiz macrumors 6502a

    vizkiz

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    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    #15
    And as I said, so do mine. But there are certain features of signatures that will not change, unless of course you're thinking about it as you're writing it, or you do it on purpose.
    In any criminal, civil, or other legal proceeding, the differences would be questioned.
     
  16. NathanA thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    #16
    Hah, check it out...the 'A' phones apparently know they are 'A' phones, and the 'B' phones know they are 'B' phones: (from the About -> Regulatory screen, both phones loaded with 3.0.1 from the same IPSW using DFU mode; obviously one is jailbroken, though; LOL)

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    So, the difference in hardware is enough that the software can distinguish one from the other!

    -- Nathan
     
  17. terraphantm macrumors 68040

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    Jun 27, 2009
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    #17
    Doesn't necessarily have to be a difference that it could tell because of hardware. Every iPhone has a unique serial number, mac address, and IMEI but they all use the same hardware. They just program that data to a non-volatile location.
     
  18. rjohnstone macrumors 68040

    rjohnstone

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2007
    Location:
    PHX, AZ.
    #18
    Nope... mine has the "B" ID on the back, yet the about page shows the "A" ID. I am running 3.1, so maybe Apple made the about page generic.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. TSX macrumors 68030

    TSX

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    Texas
  20. abijnk macrumors 68040

    abijnk

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    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #20
    Except for the part in the very first post where he says he saw this on two separate black 32GB 3GSs? :confused:
     
  21. rjohnstone macrumors 68040

    rjohnstone

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2007
    Location:
    PHX, AZ.
    #21
    Guess that makes my phone a schizophrenic.
    It says B on the outside, but on the inside it really thinks it's an A. :D

    And for the record, it's a 16GB 3GS.
     

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