Inside the iPad mini: Pray you never have to open one
Stereo speakers, not mono as Amazon claims
Teardown It's no wonder why the iPad mini assemblers at Foxconn rioted – its innards are fiendishly complex and tightly packed.
Well, to be honest, we don't really know if the iPad mini's complexity contributed to those Chinese workers dissatisfaction, but if what the tool-parts-and-repair folks at iFixit discovered when they disassembled Apple's $329-and-up shrunken fondleslab, we can certainly imagine more than one of them saying, "我忍无可忍，我不打算把它了！" *
According to an iFixit email, "We had to do some sleuthing to find some of the screws on this thing – several tiny screws were hidden underneath covers and inside crevices." And when they say tiny, they really mean tiny. "Apple wasn't joking about 'mini';" they write, "this iPad contains some of the smallest screws we have ever seen!"
Before disassembling the little fellow, iFixit grouped the iPad mini together with a third-generation iPad and an iPod touch – which they dubbed a "slightly smaller iPad Mini" – for a family photo:
The iFixiteers melted the "copious" adhesive holding the iPad mini together with their new iOpener tool, a microwaveable heating pad that – along with the prying prowess of eight iFixit guitar picks – enabled the teardown artists to pop open the iPad mini's case.
Once inside and after the display was freed, a total of 16 screws – some hidden – held down a metal plate covering the iPad mini's internals. As we mentioned above, some of the screws inside the iDevice are quite small. "Don't sneeze too hard while taking them off," iFixit warns.
Among those internal goodies are a pair of stereo speakers – a bit of a surprise, seeing as how Amazon's iPad mini attack ad lists one of the Kindle Fire HD's advantages over the iPad mini as it having dual stereo speakers versus the iPad mini's mono speaker.
It appears that you got that one wrong, Amazon marketeers. The Reg wonders whether a UK judge or three will order Bezos & Co. to apologize.
The iPad mini's logic board, as expected, is built around an Apple A5 processor. iFixit also discovered that the A5 has 512MB of RAM. "How do we know?" they write. "The package markings E4064P3PM-8D-5 indicate the A5 has two 33 nm, 2 Gb, LP DDR2 RAM dies inside, according to Chipworks."
The A5, of course, is not the sole resident of the iPad mini's logic board. To identify it and its compatriots, however, we'll forego attempting to decode iFixit's colorful labling scheme, which we explained in flowery language, straightforward descriptions, RGB values, and hexidecimal codes in our earlier reports on their teardowns of the Mac mini and Microsoft Surface, none of which satisfied some of The Reg's loyal readers.
Instead, we've defaced one of iFixit's fine photos with a simple numbering scheme – our apologies, iFixit. Note that the function of some of these chips is as yet unknown by the iFixiteers – and thus, by us as well – in part because Apple is characteristically not forthcoming about the functions of their proprietary chippery.
- Apple 338S1116
- Hynix H2JTDG8UD2MBR 16GB NAND flash memory
- Apple A5 processor
- Apple 343S0593-A5
- Apple 338S1077 B0MB1228
- Fairchild BC7BE F0MC 6683
- Fairchild PCHPS FDMC 6676BZ
The iPad mini, 'Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even' (click to enlarge)
As for ease of repair, the iPad mini didn't impress iFixit, which scored it two out of 10 on their reparability score – unsurprising, seeing as how Apple's kit is notoriously locked down. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, for example, received the same score, and it's 15-inch sibling scored an even lower one out of 10.
That said, the iFixit folks commend Apple for not fusing the display and its glass together, thus allowing each to be replaced independently. They also note that its battery isn't soldered down, making it more easily replaceable.
Speaking of that battery, its exact capacity is a wee bit difficult to track down, owing to some contradictory labeling. It appears, however, to be somewhere between 16.3 to 16.9 watt-hours, far less capacious than, for example, the 43Wh battery in the third-generation iPad.
For more on that battery and the images that explain iFixit's confusion, you'll have to check out the entire 45-image, one-video teardown. Trust us: if you're even the tiniest bit a hardware geek, it'll be well worth you time. ®
That would be Simplified Chinese for "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" – well, according to Google Translate, at least.
@AC "My car is bloody hard to repair but do I moan?"
You should get one like mine... The designers thoughtfully put a large hatch above the engine which opens when I pull a lever under the dashboard. Genius!
I think you would be pretty pissed off if your car needed a new wheel and you couldn't replace it. TV's and such are probably repaired by people who enjoy doing that kind of stuff, computer geeks really should get turned on by being able to replace component X when it decides to give up the ghost rather than throw away a £400 object because a £20 thingy inside threw a bit of a wobbly.
Dishwashers and TV's (as well as washing machines and fridges etc.) are usually repaired by a bloke called Bob who can take out a faulty part and replace it (unless it's not economical to do so), small appliances like microwaves are possibly not economically (or safety) viable to be taken apart to replace some stuff.
Batteries - which need replacing
Lithium polymer batteries have got a life of about three years, and their capacity drops each year. It takes about 5 minutes to replace a car battery, a minute to replace the battery on a remote control, and five minutes to replace the battery on a Blackberry or Samsung phone, including the power down and power up. Not so on an iDevice.
The battery is designed to be hard to replace and, in the case of this iPad mini, very obviously so. This gives iPhones and the like a three year life.
One reason that Blackberry gets a negative perception is that there are still so many ancient BBs soldiering on. I've just passed on to an OAP a 2006 Nokia phone in excellent condition and more than adequate for her needs, having been able to get a new replacement battery for it for £3.
Samsung tablets and phones have easily swappable batteries. The new Asus Padfone and the Blackberry Playbook can easily have batteries replaced with a simple tool. There is simply no excuse for requiring a complete dismantle - including glue - just to replace a battery.
It would be possible for Apple to use lithium iron batteries which are safer, if slightly larger, and have a realistic 5 to 7 year life, so don't tell me this isn't built in obsolescence.