Palm Pre Teardown

Teardown

Teardown

Teardowns provide a look inside a device and should not be used as disassembly instructions.

We got our hands on the new Palm Pre from Sprint! Oh joy, our all-nighter in front of the Sprint store paid off! We're finished disassembling it now. Follow our updates @ifixit on twitter.

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Edit Step 1 Palm Pre Teardown  ¶ 

  • Welcome to another exciting teardown brought to you by iFixit. Today we will be disassembling the newest sensation in the mobile phone market, the Palm Pre from Sprint.

  • You can write a teardown just like this! Take something apart and wow the world with what you find!

  • We arrived at the Santa Barbara Sprint store at 2am and were first in line!

  • Two blocks down the street at a local shoe store were 18 people stolidly entrenched in line for Kanye West's new Air Yeazy shoe. Some of them had been in line since Monday!

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • By the time we got our Pre at 8 am, there were about 25 others waiting.

  • It took several tries to activate the phone (about five minutes total), but no where near as bad as Apple's iPhone 3G launch activation woes last summer.

  • We tested out Sprint's 3G EVDO network on the road home and didn't notice any interruptions. Uploads and downloads were fast, and Pandora's application ran like a champ.

  • WebOS is so cool! We love how natural it feels to swipe between applications and multitask with Web, Twitter, AIM, and Pandora.

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Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • Contents of the box:

    • Palm Pre phone

    • AC Phone Charger, Standard Li-Ion Battery

    • Stereo Headset, Carry Pouch

    • Micro USB Sync Cable

    • Get Started Guide and Features Guide

    • A prepaid plastic recycling envelope in the box, making it easy to recycle your newly obsolete phone. This is a fantastic move on Palm's part, but of course recycling is a last resort if you can't fix it.

    • And a partridge in a pear tree...

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Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • Users preferring physical keyboards will be satisfied, but iPhone veterans may be left disappointed at the lack of a software keyboard option.

  • Revealing the keyboard feels awkward and interrupts the smooth WebOS experience. Try before you buy, because this keyboard could be enough to deter picky users.

  • The Pre comes with a stylish and rugged case, a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, earbuds and USB cable.

  • The Pre is "Inspired by and designed in California," while the iPhone is merely "Designed by Apple in California."

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • The battery came only partially charged, and we managed to drain it on the 1.5 hour drive back from Santa Barbara.

  • We'll just charge it briefly with the MicroUSB connector before ripping it apart. :)

  • You get a full one year warranty on hardware, but for software Palm only promises "software will perform in substantial conformance to their program specifications for a period of ninety (90) days."

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • The lineup: Apple iPhones vs. Palm Pre

  • We love the feel of holding the Pre in our hands. In its closed position, it feels much more comfortable to hold than the iPhone.

  • Notice the extra thickness of the Pre compared to the iPhone (17mm vs 12mm). Not only does this allow the engineers more flexibility in designing the physical layout of components, but it also makes the Pre conform really well to our palm.

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • To see your face better while taking photos for MySpace, the Pre includes a mirror on the back.

  • Unfortunately, the mirror distorts everything in sight-- it conforms to the slight curve of the phone. It also gets easily covered in fingerprints. Your digits will gravitate to this region while holding the phone open.

  • Cheese does not cut Pre. Evidently it only works the other way around.

  • The 3 megapixel camera does take great pictures though (we took the last photo here using our Pre in the car).

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Edit Step 8  ¶ 

  • The back panel snaps off easily to reveal the battery.

  • The Pre's battery capacity is 1150 mAh, exactly the same as the iPhone 3G, though the Pre is reported to have slightly worse battery life due to its background process capability (but we don't mind).

  • Though Sprint will eventually sell replacement and/or backup batteries, our store did not have them available today.

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Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • The battery from the Pre on the left, and the iPhone 3G on the right. Although they're different shapes, both weigh in at 23 grams.

  • In contrast to Apple's iPhones, the battery on the Pre is user-replaceable. Thanks Palm!

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Edit Step 10  ¶ 

  • The back of the phone and speaker.

  • The speaker in the Pre is substantially better than the one in the iPhone.

  • Palm didn't skimp on antennas. They're exposed for all to see as soon as you remove the back panel.

  • The antenna design is three dimensional to optimize signal quality. The iPhone's antennas also use this technique.

  • The small sticker labeled palm visible in the third image is probably there to prevent people from doing what we're about to do...

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Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • Removing one of the six T5 screws required to seperate the backplate from the phone.

  • The screw in the upper right corner is covered by a sticker labeled "Palm."

  • There are interlocking tabs securing the backplate.

  • Carefully work around the phone releasing the tabs as you go.

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Edit Step 12  ¶ 

  • We found two antennas.

  • One was labeled GPS (its obvious what its for) and the other one was labeled DIV (for diversity antenna - thanks microbreak!).

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Edit Step 13  ¶ 

  • The two volume buttons are still connected to the front half of the phone. Completely separating the two halves requires first removing the plastic volume button cover, then peeling up the volume button electronics.

  • The back frame seperated from the rest of the phone.

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Edit Step 14  ¶ 

  • Two connectors need to be disconnected in order to remove the black PCB.

  • The PCB is glued to the rest of the Pre. A gentle pry with the spudger separates the two.

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Edit Step 15  ¶ 

  • Removing the keyboard bezel.

  • The hardware keyboard and its associated sliding mechanism weighs 32 grams. That's nearly 25% of the weight of the phone! Even if you're not a fan of a hardware keyboard, there's no denying that packing the keyboard into a device that's not much larger or heavier than the iPhone is a very impressive engineering feat.

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Edit Step 16  ¶ 

  • The Palm Pre is the first phone using Texas Instrument's new OMAP3 (Open Media Applications Processor) platform.

  • The processor is a 600 MHz ARM Cortex A8 + PowerVR SGX 530 GPU + 430MHz C64x+ DSP + ISP (Image Signal Processor)

  • The chip covered by a white sticker on the LCD is CP6944BA 0907 A 04 KOR 604022.

  • We found a water damage sensor on the logic board, just below the Micro USB port, indicated by the red box on the second image.

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Edit Step 17  ¶ 

  • Removing four more small connectors, and the main logic board is finally free.

  • Like the original iPhone, the Pre has two main boards, the logic board and the communications board.

  • Unfortunately, everything interesting is carefully hidden beneath metal EMI shields. Not only are the shields soldered to the board, there's epoxy holding them down as well. Palm definitely didn't make it easy to see what makes the Pre tick.

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Edit Step 18  ¶ 

  • Finally, prying the logic board out.

  • The Pre is definitely not an easy phone to service. There are lots of fragile and tricky tabs that will make putting the phone back together challenging.

  • We wish manufacturers would put more effort into making their devices easily repairable.

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Edit Step 19  ¶ 

  • This is an incredibly thin, flexible PCB.

  • The Pre has an integrated 3 megapixel digital camera with LED flash.

  • The camera is one of our biggest complaints with the iPhone. The iPhone suffers from both poor quality photos and a long shutter delay. While the quality is definitely improved on the Pre, it's still pretty slow snapping photos.

  • You can see the standard phone vibrator next to the camera.

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Edit Step 20  ¶ 

  • Internal components, from left to right:

    • Earpiece speaker, LCD display and digitizer, microphone, communications board.

    • Original rear panel and plastic framework.

    • Battery, internal metal framework and spring mechanism, keyboard.

    • Camera board and main circuit board.

    • Main plastic framework containing antennas, antenna cabling, and the surprisingly excellent speakerphone.

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Edit Step 21  ¶ 

  • Communications board with high-resolution shots of the front and back.

  • Samsung K5D1257ACC-D090

  • Qualcomm MSM6801A

  • AVAG0 FEM-7788

  • 0CEQ 86K H33F

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Edit Step 22  ¶ 

  • The back of the display, complete with what appears to be a manufacture date at the beginning of January.

  • Unfortunately for repair, it doesn't look like the LCD and digitizer are easy to separate.

  • Both the iPhone and the Pre sport a HVGA display. However, the iPhone's display measures 3.5" diagonally, while the Pre's is only 3.1"

  • A high resolution version of this image.

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Edit Step 23  ¶ 

  • Logic board with shielding removed (high res).

  • Chip markings:

    • Texas Instruments TWL5030B 8CA28MWC

    • Marvell WiFi chip under the silver EMI cover, marked W8686B12. Directly above it is the CSR bluetooth chip. They're both on a daughterboard soldered to the logic board.

    • Samsung SDRAM KMCMG0000M-B998

    • ELPIDA K2132C1PB-60-F 08510N060. Another BGA chip underneath this one is Texas Instruments OMAP3430.

    • Unbranded chips: 3335A ADJ RNX, 89A8 850. And the one hidden with epoxy above Samsung's SDRAM is Kionix KXSD9 3-Axis Accelerometer.

  • The top of the board is labeled 888-3 94V0 1 309 - F3. The bottom of the board is bereft of chips or markings, something Apple has never done.

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Edit Step 24  ¶ 

  • Component comparison between the iPhone and the Palm Pre.

  • Hardware-wise, the Palm Pre is very impressive. Our only hardware complaint was the physical keyboard, although some people may appreciate the hardware keyboard.

  • The Pre logic board is substantially smaller than the iPhone logic board, which is very impressive considering how renowned Apple's engineers are for shrinking hardware footprints. It's amazing the difference a year can make.

  • In general, this Palm hardware reminds us a lot more of Apple's engineering style than any of hardware we've taken apart by other manufacturers (like Dell).

  • For more technical analysis, see the analysis our partners over at PhoneWreck just posted of the Pre.

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Edit Step 25  ¶ 

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T5 Torx Screwdriver

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Comments Comments are onturn off

A real keyboard! If the touch screen and applications work anywhere near iPhone quality this makes the Pre a very good option for people who actually want to create lots of text content on their mobile device.

rmonge, · Reply

If the speaker is on the back doesn't that make it more difficult to hear and more likely to be covered by your hand? So in the end does the sound end up being worse in practical usage? The iPhone speaker placement seems to make more sense acoustically.

c4rlob, · Reply

Does anyone have an idea of the manufacturer of the 3D antenna?

iceman10, · Reply

"DIV" likely stands for "Diversity", a second antenna for the CDMA receiver that reduces the impact of spatial variations in signal strength and thus increases the average data rate available. Pretty common in CDMA EVDO designs these days.

Miphnik, · Reply

Re: Step 15

"...there's no denying that packing the keyboard into a device that's no larger or heavier than the iPhone is a very impressive engineering feat."

At 87% volume of the Pre, the iPhone also weighs 2 grams less.

If they hadn't packed the keyboard in, I'm sure your statement would be true, except for the 'very impressive engineering feat' part.

nxthxn, · Reply

Quote from nxthxn:

At 87% volume of the Pre, the iPhone also weighs 2 grams less.

If they hadn't packed the keyboard in, I'm sure your statement would be true, except for the 'very impressive engineering feat' part.

Is two grams really enough for a human to notice the difference? It's within rounding error - if given in ounce units both would weigh 4.7 ounces.

dculberson, · Reply

Does the camera come off the board that has the phone vibrator without a soldering iron?

n8b, · Reply

Quote from n8b:

Does the camera come off the board that has the phone vibrator without a soldering iron?

I have torn mine apart, and it does not appear to come off easily. It may even be difficult with a soldering iron because of the extremely thin flexible pcb. That is why I asked if they had any ideas.

You may be able to snip the leads coming out of the camera module, but that would be a pretty permanent solution I imagine.

emooretc, · Reply

Does anybody know what the copper coil does that is on the back panel? See photo above (step 23) lower right corner.

RolfB, · Reply

Quote from n8b:

Does the camera come off the board that has the phone vibrator without a soldering iron?

No, the camera is surface mount soldered onto the board.

Kyle Wiens, · Reply

Quote from RolfB:

Does anybody know what the copper coil does that is on the back panel? See photo above (step 23) lower right corner.

That copper coil on the back panel that comes with the Touchstone charging kit. We talk about it in our touchstone teardown.

Kyle Wiens, · Reply

Quote from emooretc:

You may be able to snip the leads coming out of the camera module, but that would be a pretty permanent solution I imagine.

Man that's too bad. The treo 700p was pretty easy to pull the camera on. Just pull a few screws and the camera just unplugged. I was wondering if that thing it was mounted too was a board or a cable. I guess I'll have to stick with my treo for now and see how the new iPhone looks. I've had a palm in my pocket ever since the 99 when the IIIe came out.

n8b, · Reply

Quote from kyle:

That copper coil on the back panel that comes with the Touchstone charging kit. We talk about it in our touchstone teardown.

Thanks Kyle. when I saw the coil I thought of it but I wasn't sure. I just saw the latest Brink on TV and they mentioned it: the Pre's wireless charging. It's funny that electric toothbrushes got that feature 10 years ago (though a little simpler) and we see it just now appearing in a very obvious application. It looks like that all the engineers who wanted to do this "stuff" (keyboard, wireless charging...) at Apple (and weren't "allowed) went to Palm... It will be interesting to find out what these "big old boys" carriers and other old-style companies (Nokia, Moto....) will come up with when they propose the new "standardized" charging solution for our cells. It should be wireless! Maybe Palm is going to set some standards again (for a while). I hope the Pre will be doing well. We need competition. Otherwise the iPhone will just fade away with its next iteration...nothing much new this year as we found out today.

RolfB, · Reply

Quote from RolfB:

Does anybody know what the copper coil does that is on the back panel? See photo above (step 23) lower right corner.

It is the inductive charger for the pre called the touchstone charger. The phone is held on to the touchstone by means of the four magnets around the coil. When in place, inductive charging occurs. In other words the phone gets charged without plugging in cables.

motoman, · Reply

At my Pre the earphone piece is a bit loose. I can swipe it with my fingernail up and down. Is this at other pre the same or is mine broken?

I mean the small silver bar above the screen on the front.

Sebastian, · Reply

Can you see anyway to remove the camera without damaging the rest of the phone. Those of us that aren't allowed to have cameras in our workplace would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

emooretc, · Reply

Well done for your teardown! Just wanted to point to an erroneous identification of the bluetooth chip. On your pics I can clearly see Marvell's 8686 WLAN chip. However it's not a combo WLAN+Bluetooth chip as there is another chip right next to it that comes from CSR (you can read it on the packaging) and that's CSR's bluetooth SoC. Also the chip underneath the Elpida DRAM die is Texas Instruments's OMAP 3 chip. The other TI chip next to it (TWLXX) is the power management unit that works with it. THx

cellularme, · Reply

Quote from cellularme:

Well done for your teardown! Just wanted to point to an erroneous identification of the bluetooth chip

Fixed, thanks!

Kyle Wiens, · Reply

You have two major errors in the blockdiagram and the PCB info here:

The TriQuint Cellband PA-Duplexer in the new small 7x4mm package is completely missing in your list and the block diagram! It is TriQuint part number TQM613026A. (You call it a "Duplexer" only, which is wrong.

http://www.triquint.com/docs/o/TQM613026...

The Avago PCS band part is a larger and older PA-Duplexer Module in 8x5mm package called AFEM-7738 (not FEM-7788), see:

http://www.avagotech.com/docs/pl47pibsep...

StefRi, · Reply

The BGA chip under the ELPIDA memory package is almost certainly the TI OMAP processor.

g2sb, · Reply

Quote from g2sb:

The BGA chip under the ELPIDA memory package is almost certainly the TI OMAP processor.

I doubt it. It's would not be that big... looks like a NAND memory chip to me.

bsnguy, · Reply

Quote from bsnguy:

I doubt it. It's would not be that big... looks like a NAND memory chip to me.

I just reread this and was confused... the unmarked chip looks like NAND memory. The CPU is probably hidden under the ELPIDA chip as noted. Sorry for the confusion.

bsnguy, · Reply

also if you didnt notice there is no offset from the slide upper to the top of the first row of keys of the QWERTY is pretty much zero. This is a very bad design as it gives no room for your finger to press that row....can get awkward.

telmon, · Reply

also, could you please post a teardown of the keypad itslef:

-what is the backlight method (side fire LED w/ light guide, or EL)

-is the keypad a single film or singulated

-are the actuators pucks on the EL or the keypad film/keycaps

-how many dimples do the popples have (i assume 3-4)....do you know the actuation force?

-how is the keypad tactility?

-how do you find the backlighting brightness?

telmon, · Reply

Is that an AT&T 3G SIM Card in the picture? Looks exactly like one. (white with a little orange on the left side and blue on the right side)

rheide, · Reply

Quote from rheide:

just realized it was a comparison - I feel dumb :-)

rheide, · Reply

Could you tell me the dimensions of the camera module?

Jonny, · Reply

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