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iFixit tears iPad Mini apart, finds it's not easy to repair

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iFixit iPad Mini teardown image gallery
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Why do we love to see technology reduced to its component parts? We're not sure why we enjoy looking at the inner workings of the latest gadgets and gizmos, but we sure do like seeing it done by the expert folks at iFixit who've just disected the  iPad Mini.

With a whole lot of glue holding the thing together and expensive battery replacement cost ($99) relative to the price ($329 for the base model), the iPad Mini earned a low repairability score of 2 out of 10 on the iFixit scale. 

It appears a Samsung chip is behind the LCD screen, though iFixit couldn't completely confirm the manufacturer. The display may in fact be multi-sourced by makers including AU Optronics and LG.Other findings: 

  •  A large single 16.5 Whr cell battery drives the iPad Mini
  • The Apple A5 processor is the same as the latest iPod Touch, with 512 MB RAM
  • Same Murata 339S0171 Wi-Fi as the iPhone 5
  • Multi-chip Broadcom BCM5976 touchscreen controllers
  • Hynix H2JTDG8UD2MBR 16 GB NAND Flash

Check out the video below to see the touchscreen in action, even when torn apart:

The full 23-step teardown is available on the iFixit website. 

Comments

Total comments: 37
GreenmanToo
By GreenmanToo (Nov 4, 2012)

Translation:
"We, here at iFixit, lack the specialist knowledge to easily replace the battery cheaply, using parts supplied by us. We therefore give the iPad mini a low rating because it cuts into our profit producing business"
Reality:
Sealed battery devices have a reliability far greater than those with user replaceable batteries and in many cases have a far better battery life because the battery can be moulded to take advantage of all the space available. Other advantages include better resistance to moisture, lighter weight even with a larger battery and a more solid feel to the device without loose battery compartment doors which in turn promotes longer device life by eradicating broken components.
Also, Apple offer a battery replacement service which ensures that the old battery is responsibly recycled ie they don't just throw it in the bin like most repairers. Just had Apple replace the battery in my old 3GS - nearly four years old, for my granddaughter. No need to junk it.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
1 upvote
gadgets
By gadgets (Nov 8, 2012)

Simple screws and rubber seals will accomplish the same thing, plus allowing USERS to decide how they want to handle the proprietary battery they extract.

Olympus OMD-EM5 glued together? NO. Great build quality and weather sealing? YES.

0 upvotes
TomUW
By TomUW (Nov 3, 2012)

umm appliances have been built this way for as long as I can remember. Never heard anyone complain that their microwave is hard to repair. So the iPad mini is an appliance, what's the big deal?

1 upvote
dstate1
By dstate1 (Nov 2, 2012)

Ah, for the good old days when we could fix our tablets with a hammer and a ford wrench. Bring back my old hand cranked ipad i always say

1 upvote
M Lammerse
By M Lammerse (Nov 2, 2012)

In a way funny that Samsung was the first in producing a smaller sized tablet. An appleholic told me that this is a typical product which Jobs never ever would have released.

Besides the idiotic idea to STILL use non replaceable key components, like the battery for instance. This thing is a lot of little things (little screen, little memory, little connectivity) for a huge price.

0 upvotes
JadedGamer
By JadedGamer (Nov 3, 2012)

What huge price? You get 1 inch more screen area and better build quality for just $80 more than the Nexus 7 or the Galaxy Tab 7. Some people do not look at price alone.

1 upvote
MNDaveC
By MNDaveC (Nov 2, 2012)

512MB has proven to be a major issue with Ipad 1's and iOS 4+.... Newer HTML5 web pages with lots of client-side JS chow ipad memory and will bring the ipads with 512 RAM to their knees.

3 upvotes
Zeev Suraski
By Zeev Suraski (Nov 2, 2012)

The iPad 1 actually had 256MB. Which indeed was downright horrible.
iPad 2 is 512MB and gets by pretty well - so should the mini.
The last generation iPads (3&4) are both 1GB, but that's probably necessary due to the 4x # of pixels they're pushing.

2 upvotes
Corne Ferreira
By Corne Ferreira (Nov 1, 2012)

All that glue does have on positive point vs old screw system, they act as moisture and dust seals. I'd never buy one its too small, im hoping they will come up with a 13". They are made to be portable after all.

1 upvote
EmmanuelStarchild
By EmmanuelStarchild (Nov 1, 2012)

Kinda ironic that Apple is suing Samsung, it's most important parts supplier. Why doesn't Samsung just cut them off at the knees?

1 upvote
herbetb
By herbetb (Nov 1, 2012)

where did you get that from? it says above possibly 1 chip.

"It appears a Samsung chip is behind the LCD screen, though iFixit couldn't completely confirm the manufacturer."

0 upvotes
Ivan Manida
By Ivan Manida (Nov 1, 2012)

does not work like this - when you sell 100th millions of parts to someone, cutting them off would be suicidal. they will eventually find a new vendor (they are the ones with money, remember), and you'll have 100 million unsold parts and zero cash.

3 upvotes
EmmanuelStarchild
By EmmanuelStarchild (Nov 1, 2012)

Samsung makes the screen, as well. The chip and the screen, arguably the most important parts.

3 upvotes
emtx
By emtx (Nov 1, 2012)

Yes - it is well ironic. Samsung is one of the major supplier and has a tablet of this size already. I would be laughing if they would sue Apple for producing tablet of this size.

1 upvote
JadedGamer
By JadedGamer (Nov 2, 2012)

Because Samsung-the-parts-maker is a different company than Samsung-the-device-maker, though they have the same owner. I am sure the former would not like to lose business just because the latter is cranky.

0 upvotes
DanCee
By DanCee (Nov 2, 2012)

in business they have agreement.. if one fail to comply, there will be consequences = fine. If you agree to supply within certain time limit, you will supply or you will lost a lot more

0 upvotes
parallaxproblem
By parallaxproblem (Nov 1, 2012)

Simply awful: hundreds of dollars for something that becomes landfill as soon as the battery is expired. Shall we also start scrapping cars when the tyres wear or brake pads need replacing?

Apple was the company that started this wasteful trend and I will never buy one of their products for exactly this reason

13 upvotes
TakisL
By TakisL (Nov 1, 2012)

Me too....

1 upvote
Ed_arizona
By Ed_arizona (Nov 1, 2012)

Yet another reason I NEVER buy anything APPLE

3 upvotes
Dan
By Dan (Nov 1, 2012)

How often do you replace the battery in your cell phone? By the time your battery wears out, buying a new model would be a better idea anyway unless you like using dinosaur technology.

6 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Nov 1, 2012)

@ Ed and parallaxproblem - while I see your point (and I'm no fan of throw-away culture) I remember the days of buying replacement batteries for old electronics and once you factor in postage, tax, inconvenience, etc., it wasn't uncommon to pay around $100 to do it myself. The battery in the iPad Mini is replaceable - just not by the purchaser.

4 upvotes
parallaxproblem
By parallaxproblem (Nov 1, 2012)

@Dan, actually I have replaced several of the batteries in my mobile phones: touchscreen phones get through many more battery cycles than normal ones so the batteries don't last as long, and that's ignoring the issue of defective battery cells

But I have also given some of my older devices to younger relatives or to friends in other countries who do not have the financial resources I have. The idea of 'junking' an othewise working item but because a consumable part has expired is abhorrent to me

8 upvotes
parallaxproblem
By parallaxproblem (Nov 1, 2012)

@Barney Britton. $100 for a DIY replacement battery - what on earth were you changing?

I've never even managed a third of that for anything (including postage). Even a new LCD screen for my Kindle came to $65 all in...

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Nov 1, 2012)

I'm really thinking back to buying spare batteries for my laptop computers, to be honest. The batteries inside today's tablet computers are far, far far more powerful and expensive than those in cellphones/iPods etc.

0 upvotes
Matt Random
By Matt Random (Nov 1, 2012)

I have an original iPhone that is still in daily use. The battery life is sufficient after all these years and countless recharge cycles.

In fact, the only thing I've ever had to buy replacement batteries for are one HP laptop (out of the many laptops I've had) and most every camera I've owned.

0 upvotes
neo265
By neo265 (Nov 1, 2012)

Apple have a very good battery replacement program but you can do it yourself.....tonnes of tutorials out there.

0 upvotes
larsbc
By larsbc (Nov 1, 2012)

@Dan: my 3 year-old 3GS is going to my daughter who wants an iPod. It will serve her well for a few years once I replace the battery (fortunately, the 3GS's battery is somewhat user-replaceable. Were I not able to do this, the phone would be junk in another 3 months.

2 upvotes
emtx
By emtx (Nov 1, 2012)

@ DAN I use havily smartphone. You can not really do office on it - since its too small, but I am able to do emailing, social networks, take pictures, dedicated GPS, sometimes read and play, Soundhound etc. My dinosour - HTC Wildfire which I got as a present - except of memory suffice. If I can tweak memory and replace battery when its old, I can continue for next 2 or 3 years....there is a way. I do not like to waist plastics, toxics and money.

1 upvote
Teila Day
By Teila Day (Nov 3, 2012)

yet you think nothing of buying a potato chip bag only half filled with actual product. Do you take your own canvas bags to the store or use (then throw away) paper or plastic bags given to you at the store? Do you bike or carpool to work? Apple didn't start the trash-trend, and there are far more landfill-filling problem products than Apple gear. Bottom line is that your personal waste (not your bio waste) is likely more of a concern to the earth than Apple stuff being thrown away. ;)

Comment edited 41 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Lupti
By Lupti (Nov 3, 2012)

Agree on that. I don´t see any reason for buying an Apple product, and this one is another for sticking with this decision.

And @Dan not everyone changes the phone just because it´s "oldtech" and there are shiny new ones out. Ironically the old ones are often better for just phoning and messaging as they have better call quality and reception. I bought several replacement batteries for my Sony W200i, 9 € for a new battery is cheaper than buying a new phone.

0 upvotes
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (Nov 1, 2012)

Considering that these devices and all their ilk are tossed as soon as the next shiny thing comes along, what incentive is there to engineer with repairability in mind ?

2 upvotes
Octane
By Octane (Nov 1, 2012)

Yay to the trash-it society. Repairing any device would work in favor of the end user, but not for the manufacturer.

0 upvotes
Dan
By Dan (Nov 1, 2012)

By the time the device needs to repaired, it would be so slow that it would be useless.

1 upvote
larsbc
By larsbc (Nov 1, 2012)

@Dan: Not at all. Not everyone needs the latest and greatest. There are many organizations seeking good condition, used cell phones to pass on to people in need. Smart phones with wi-fi, a webkit browser, and a common OS (ie: iOS, Android) are valuable even without having a cell plan.
Having an easily replaced battery can usefully extend the life of these devices.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (Nov 2, 2012)

@Dan, I am not sure that is true as I rarely wait very long for these devices to do anything I want them to. The only issue I could see would be OS incompatibility over time.
At bottom, as much as I like a zippy new bit of tech, no new device has gotten me home from work one nanosecond sooner than the previous gizmo.

1 upvote
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Nov 1, 2012)

I for one am absolutely delighted by iFixit and what they do. Used to be like that myself, in the days when things were put together in the more "repair-it" way, as opposed to today's "throw-away-buy-new" approach. These expensive to buy and cheap to produce things are off-limits to the practical side of my curiosity. Long time ago the glue was the last resort! Nowadays, it seems like it's everywhere. In its own way, it's kind of sad.

4 upvotes
kwa_photo
By kwa_photo (Nov 1, 2012)

This is a surprise how? None of the iOS devices are that easy to disassemble. The iPhone 5 may be the easiest though.

1 upvote
Total comments: 37
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