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iFixIt’s New iPad teardown; repair score lowered to 2 out of 10

Sections: iPad, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad

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iFixIt down under associate Luke managed to be first in line at the Melbourne, Australia Telstra store at midnight to pick up a new iPad, which the Aussie iFixIt team immediately proceeded to tear down.

According to iFixIt CEO Kyle Weins, getting inside the third-gen iPad was every bit as tricky as had been anticipated, based on how tough it has been to get into the iPad 2. Weins notes that the iPad’s front panel is glued to the frame, requiring careful application of a heat gun to loosen the adhesive, some working to budge the panel using guitar picks and plastic opening tools, and finally gently lifting the panel, off with the assistance of some heavy duty suction cups.

Once inside, it was revealed that next to the logic board is a gigantic battery, which Weins says takes up most of the space inside the iPad. While the iPad 2 has an already formidable 25 watt-hour Li-ion battery, the iPad 3 has a whopping 42.5 watt-hour, 3.7 volt, unit, the extra 17.5 watt-hours needed to maintain the iPad 2′s nominal 10 hour battery life (9 hours with LTE operative) while supporting the new iPad’s Retina display and quad-core GPU. Weins affirns that contrary to some rumors, the additional capacity was accomplished by increasing the battery’s physical size, and not with new technology.

Repair score: 2 out of 10

However, it also appears the new iPad is a poor candidate for repair due to damage or wear, as well as for recycling, notwithstanding Apple’s claims of green-ness. Kyle Weins reports that new iPad’s design is essentially the same as the iPad 2, which iFixIt had originally awarded a repairability score of 4. However, he says they’ve learned a lot about the design since then, and have spent the past year trying to repair the iPad 2 with mixed success, so consequently they are rating the new iPad an abysmal 2 out of 10, and retroactively dropping the iPad 2′s repairability score to a 2 as well. He points out that the adhesive bonding of the front panel makes it extremely difficult to remove without damaging the glass, which in turn makes repair and end-of-life recycling very difficult.

That said, iFixit’s technicians were able to disassemble this particular iPad without breaking the glass—an acheivment that hadn’t been accomplished with their iPad 2 teardown. Weins says a year of practice has made them more proficient at the task, but that schools deploying the iPad for their students are going to be in for a lot of repair technician training.

“The iPad is repairable,” says Weins, “just extremely difficult to work on. We’ve written a repair manual for the iPad 2 here, and repairing the new iPad will be very similar.”

Apple claims the new iPad is environmentally friendly with a “Recyclable aluminum and glass enclosure,” but Weins argues that while the materials may be technically recyclable, the assembled unit is not. He says he spoke this week with Steve Skurnac, President of SIMS Recycling Solutions—one of the largest electronics recyclers in the world—who commented that, “Sealed units make it difficult to remove the batteries. From a recycler’s point of view, the hazardous components [like batteries] need to be easily separated or removed.”

Third Generation iPad Major Tech Specs:

  • Dual-core Apple A5X processor with integrated quad-core graphics
  • 9.7 inch LED backlit in-plane switching LCD with 20481536 pixel “Retina Display.” Our unit is made by Samsung; we hear that Sharp and LG may be supplying panels at a later date.
  • 16, 32 or 64 GB Toshiba NAND flash memory
  • 5 MP HD rear-facing camera
  • 1 GB DRAM comprised of two 4Gb Elpida LP DDR2 parts
  • Broadcom BCM4330 802.11a/b/g/n Baseband/Radio with Integrated Bluetooth 4.0+HS
  • Qualcomm MDM9600 3G and 4G wireless modem (not the expected 2nd generation MDM9615)
  • Qualcomm RTR8600 multi-band/mode RF transceiver for LTE bands

For the full teardown report, visit ifixit.com.

Photos courtesy of iFixIt.

 

 

 

 

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