PlayStation Vita Teardown

February 16, 2012 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

We don’t break gadgets — we rip them apart with style. We tear them down, if you will. Today we put our spudgers up against Sony’s PlayStation Vita, the newest addition to their portable gaming platform family.

The Vita managed to freeze itself within five minutes of us trying it out, but we quickly forgot our malaise once we opened it. The device is an absolute gem to take apart due to standard screws, lots of connectors, and a modular design. Repair demerits are few (fused LCD to plastic, some glue here ‘n’ there), so the Vita managed a very respectful 8 out of 10 repairability score.

Cracking open the Vita

Cracking open the Vita

But what else did we find? Here are some of the teardown highlights:

  • Common Phillips #00 screws hold the most of the Vita together. All are easily accessible, though two are cleverly hidden under the accessory port cover.
  • The battery is secured to the back case with a pair of Phillips #00 screws and… well that’s it. There’s no adhesive, and absolutely no reason why users couldn’t replace the batteries themselves! The Vita’s battery runs at a standard 3.7 V and packs an impressive 2210 mAh punch.
  • The PS Vita is very modular. Check out all these connectors! With all these individual components, the Vita should be easy and inexpensive to repair.
  • Though the Vita is the first Sony handheld gaming device to boast two cameras, you shouldn’t cancel your Nikon D800 pre-order quite yet. The 640×480 pixel VGA cameras aren’t likely to wow the folks browsing your Flickr stream.
  • After a fair amount of disassembly, we find our old nemesis: adhesive! We easily win the battle against the evil glue with our trusty plastic opening tool and separate the rear multi-touch pad from its frame. We find an Atmel mXT224 touchscreen controller attached to the rear touchpad.
  • The speakers come out without much fuss thanks in part to their pressure contacts. These types of connections are common in devices where space is a concern and there’s no room for routing and soldering speaker wires.
  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Sony has used the same basic design for the R and L trigger buttons since the original PSP.
  • As we begin removing the screws for the motherboard, it slowly dawns on us… Colored screws! The pink-ish screws hold the motherboard in place while the blue screws hold attachments to the motherboard. This is one of the few devices in the history of our teardowns to contain colorful screws inside.
  • With the motherboard finally all by its lonesome, we began some chip identification:
  • Sony CXD5315GG quad-core processor
  • Samsung KLM4G1FE3A-F001 512 MB Mobile DDR2 SDRAM
  • Fujitsu MB44C026A
  • Marvell 88W878S-BKB2 Avastar WLAN/Bluetooth/FM Single-Chip SoC
  • Wolfson Micro WM1803E audio codec
  • STMicroelectronics 3GA51H gyroscope
  • Kionix KXTC9 three-axis MEMS accelerometer
Separating the frame from LCD/plastic

Separating the frame from LCD/plastic

 

Final layout

Final layout

Motorola Droid 4 Teardown

February 13, 2012 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

2012 brings another update to the Droid line of smartphones. Motorola’s labs continue to evolve the Droid into a faster, slicker, and more pleasant device to use. This appears to be the best keyboard yet, and the phone feels better in one’s hand than earlier units. Yet it’s not all fun and games at the iFixit labs.

The new Droid also introduces compromises that did not exist in previous iterations: the battery is no longer user-replaceable (according to Motorola, at least), and that swell keyboard is now integrated into the motherboard, meaning you’ll have to replace both components if a key on the keyboard fails. It’s akin to having to replace your brain if your arm breaks. Consequently, the Droid 4 earns a deplorable 4 out of 10 repairability score, which is by far the lowest score we’ve given to a smartphone bearing the Droid name.

Teardown highlights:

  • Motorola has graced every Droid 4 with this mysterious little gem. Initially we thought it to be a SIM card eject tool, complete with a Motorola logo and fancy design — even though you don’t need the tool to take out the SIM card. However, after scanning through the four included manuals (that’s right, we do read the manuals), we discovered that the object is actually a rear panel removal tool! For the first time in the history of our teardowns, a device manufacturer has actually included a tool to help take apart their device — although it’s for a procedure that shouldn’t require a tool to begin with.
  • The first thing we observed on the innards of this Droid was a large sticker covering the battery. It contained identifying information for the phone, as well as several statements telling the user that the battery is not removable. This is a huge (negative) departure from earlier Droids, where the battery was always user-replaceable.
  • Removing the sticker revealed the Droid 4’s battery, and confirmed our assumptions: the Droid’s battery is a lot larger and more troublesome to remove than last year’s model. Two T5 Torx screws and gobs of adhesive hold the battery in place. The adhesive is so strong that you may accidentally bend the battery too much (and cause it to possibly ignite) if you try removing it with just your fingers. So instead, use a flat pry tool like a spudger to pry the battery from the phone.
  • A liquid damage indicator cleverly placed below the micro-SIM cover thwarts our hopes of a Droid 4 deep-sea excursion. Sorry little buddy, looks like you’re going to have to sit this one out.
  • Unlike last year’s Droid, the Droid 4’s keyboard pressure sensors are attached to the back of the motherboard, so you’ll have to replace the entire motherboard if a key fails on your keyboard.
  • Cool! The keyboard letters are printed on raised rubber atop the pressure contacts. Our guess is as good as yours as to why Motorola chose to go that route; there’s no benefit we can see from having the letters printed on the rubber.
  • Motorola definitely understood the importance of designing a good keyboard for this phone. From our limited txt-testing, it appears to be the best Droid keyboard yet. The same shows in its internal construction (aside from it being integrated into the motherboard).
  • Interesting: The microSD card slot is not soldered onto the motherboard, but instead held in place by two screws. The slot connects to the motherboard via some pressure-sensitive pins, as well as a rectangular multi-pin connector.
  • And now for some chip identification:
  • Samsung K3PE7E00M-XGC1 4 Gb LPDDR2.
  • Hynix H8BCS0QG0MMR memory MCP containing Hynix DRAM and STM flash
  • Qualcomm MDM6600 supporting HSPA+ speeds of up to 14.4 Mbps
  • Qualcomm PM8028 chip working in conjunction with the Qualcomm MDM6600 to provide wireless data connection to the phone
  • Motorola T6VP0XBG-0001 LCM 2.0 LTE baseband processor
  • ZE55431140KHD, which appears to be the RAM sitting atop the 1.2 GHz main processor
  • Infineon 5726 SLU A1
  • Skyworks 77483 700MHz LTE PA module
  • Avago ACPM-7868 quad-band power amplifier
  • Texas Instruments WL 1285C WiLink 7.0 single-chip WLAN, GPS, Bluetooth and FM solution
  • ST Ericsson CPCAP 6556002 System on a Chip
  • The back of the board is largely devoid of chips, save for one: the SanDisk SDIN5C1-16G flash memory that we found in the Droid Razr also graces the interior of the Droid 4. As its name suggests, this package provides the 16 GB of memory that comes with every Droid 4.
  • Good news: the LCD is not fused to the glass display. This means users won’t have to purchase the LCD (which is significantly more expensive than just the glass) if they shatter their glass.
  • Not-so-good news: they will have to replace the touchscreen controller when replacing the front display glass, which will add a bit of cost to the repair.
  • What touchscreen controller does the Droid 4 sport, you may ask? The underside of the front panel reveals an Atmel MXT224E touchscreen controller, which we’ve found in several other phones in the past, including the Droid 3.
Removing the non-removable battery
Removing the non-removable battery
Final layout

Final layout

The Droid Razr Packs New Hardware

February 8, 2012 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

Our original Droid Razr teardown from last November revealed how the device packs all that fun hardware into such a thin form factor. But recently we’ve heard the good word from the bird that Motorola may be using different components inside Droid Razr units manufactured after our teardown. So of course we just couldn’t resist de-EMI-shielding another Droid Razr unit for the sake of science. That’s just how we roll.

To those who might think we’re just wasting phones without abandon, you needn’t worry – the second unit is also going to be used for our repair guides, so you won’t have to suffer if you’re trying to repair your Droid Razr yourself.

Behold the updates! We removed a ton of EMI shields with our dental pick and exposed all the new hardware that powers this Droid Razr (click on any image to load the ginormous version):

So what’s new? First thing to note is the new SanDisk SDIN5C1-16G flash memory chip. It’s the largest change in the new Droid Razr – literally. The large-and-in-charge SanDisk package resides exactly where the earlier Droid Razr’s 16GB Toshiba flash used to be. To those keeping score, we also uncovered the same SanDisk flash memory chip inside the Nook Tablet.

 Second comes the ELPIDA B8164B3PF-8D-F RAM. This package replaces the Samsung K3PE7E700M-XGC1 4Gb LPDDR2 RAM we found in the original Droid Razr.

And finally, the Hynix H90H1GH51JMP chip that sits atop the  TI OMAP 4430 processor is replaced by a Toshiba Y9AOA111418L8 memory chip.

The rest of the components are largely the same, aside from the Bosch accelerometer being a slightly updated unit. To be extra thorough, we also updated the Droid Razr teardown to reflect this new-found knowledge.

Well there you have it, folks. We certainly hope you’re not particular about which components your Droid Razr sports, because you never know what stuff lies inside unless you open it up and remove the EMI shields – which will certainly guarantee a dead Droid on your hands.

But even if you accidentally break your Droid Razr, don’t worry. Give us a week or two and we’ll have guides for your repairing convenience. Just keep your peepers glued the Droid Razr device page, and we’ll help you out.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Teardown

November 29, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

Thanks to some wonderful folks in the UK, we got our hands on the elusive Samsung Galaxy Nexus even before its release date has been announced on our side of the pond.

And we’re glad that it’s here, as it contains some features we’ve never before seen in a smartphone.

Sadly, it’s not all fun and games. The phone is a bit difficult to get into, and glass replacement is costly due to the glass being fused to both AMOLED display as well as a display frame. So, either get good with a heat gun or just don’t drop the phone. Consequently, the Galaxy Nexus received a mid-pack 6 out of 10 repairability score.

Teardown highlights:

  • Not only does the 3.7 V, 1750 mAh battery power the phone, but the user manual states that it also doubles as the NFC antenna. Of course, we had to see this one for ourselves, so we peeled apart the battery. Lo and behold, there’s a sweet antenna hiding underneath the battery’s shiny wrapper.
  • If you ever want to buy a replacement battery (and keep NFC functional), ensure that the battery has the antenna. Our battery says “Near Field Communication” on it, so that might be a good indicator if it will function as an NFC antenna.
  • The 5 megapixel rear-facing camera is optimized for low light conditions and has a handy continuous auto-focus feature that’ll surely help keep those quick moments clear. If you prefer moving pictures, this camera can capture full HD 1080p “talkies.” We weren’t that impressed with the camera during our five-minute pre-teardown test, but that’s just our impression.
  • The front-facing camera allows for video chat and will take pictures at 1.3 MP or videos at 720p. Pretty standard stuff nowadays. But, the cool part is that is also has a Winbond 8 Mb Serial Flash Memory unit in line to help it buffer all the data it collects.
  • The rear speaker pops off the motherboard without much effort. The ability to replace individual components inside the Galaxy Nexus is always great, since this will make some repairs less costly.
  • The primary internals of the Galaxy Nexus are contained on two L-shaped boards that are held together by soldered wires from the vibrator motor. We found the following chips:
  • Texas Instruments TWL6040 8-Channel High Quality Low-Power Audio Codec
  • Texas Instruments TWL6030 Fully Integrated Power Management with Switch Mode Charger
  • Invensense MPU-3050 Motion Processing Unit
  • Intel XG626 Baseband Modem
  • RFMD RF6260 Quad-band Multimode Power Amplifier Module
  • Samsung K3PE7E700M 512 MB DDR2 SDRAM
  • Samsung KMVYL000LM Multichip Memory Package, which we believe to house an additional 512 MB of RAM in addition to the main processor.
  • Samsung SWB-B42 BT 4.0 Dual Band Wlan FM Tx/Rx. Chipworks says the module is actually manufactured by Murata, and houses a Broadcom BCM4330 die inside.
  • NXP 65N00 Smart Card IC. According to Chipworks, this two-die package houses an MCU and a PN544 NFC controller.
  • The chip labeled as 274 U141 031 hides the Bosch BMP180 MEMS Pressure Sensor, which should be responsible for the “barometer” feature inside the Nexus. The Bosch BMP180 is identified by its markings CMD 173 as noted by our friends at Chipworks.
Checking out the wire bonds in the Bosch BMP180 MEMS Pressure Sensor

Checking out the wire bonds in the Bosch BMP180 MEMS Pressure Sensor

Final layout

Final layout

Nook Tablet Teardown

November 21, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

Today, the Nook Tablet met the Kindle Fire in our operating room. The tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

But instead of cutting into tension — which we’re pretty sure wasn’t physically possible — we focused on carving into every cranny of the new Nook, which we’ve found to share a lot in common with its fiery foe.

Not going to lie: the Nook Tablet was a tad tricky to get into. Anyone wanting to embark on this adventure will need to gear up with both metal and plastic spudgers, plastic opening tools, a Torx T5 screwdriver, and an extra ounce of patience.

Loads of adhesive, a fair number of screws, and a perplexing internal design guarantees some frustrating situations. Even though the Nook Tablet is almost as simple feature-wise as the Fire, it turned out to be much more difficult to get into; so a middle-of-the-road 6 out of 10 repairability score was definitely appropriate.

Teardown highlights:

  • The Nook has its microSD slot stashed away under a magnetic cover next to the carabiner clip. This could make changing your SD card while rock climbing a bit difficult if you’re using the Nook as a tie point.
  • The two small circles flanking the microSD slot may look like harmless aesthetic pieces, or even buttons, but they actually house insidious screws that will hamper your disassembly efforts.
  • Just as we thought, the rounded sides of the Nook are deceptive. Even though it looks skinnier than the Fire, it’s actually a hair pudgier. The Fire measures in at .45″, but the Nook is .03 inches thicker, at a mind-blowing .48″! Holy smokes!
  • The Nook’s 1 GB of RAM easily conquers its rivals’ (Fire and iPad 2) 512 MB offerings, but we feel that’s a pretty small victory — more RAM does not necessarily translate to more performance.
  • The 3.7 V, 4000 mAh battery provides an advertised 11.5 hours of use time, which easily beats the Kindle Fire’s 8 hours.
  • A little wiggling and out comes the motherboard. Let’s see who we’re dealing with:
  • SanDisk SDIN5C1-16G 16 GB Flash Memory
  • Texas Instruments 6030B107 Fully Integrated Power Management IC
  • Texas Instruments AIC3100 Low-Power Audio Codec With 1.3 W Stereo Class-D Speaker Amplifier
  • Texas Instruments LVDS83B FlatLink 10-135 MHz Transmitter
  • Hynix H9TKNNN8P 1 GB DDR2 RAM
  • The Hynix chip likely covers the Texas Instruments OMAP4 1 GHz dual-core processor, just like in the Kindle Fire.
  • A closer look at one of the ribbon cables reveals a FocalTech FT5406EE8 Capacitive Touch Panel Controller.
  • Ready for more shocking similarities to the Kindle Fire? The Nook Tablet’s 7″ IPS display also runs at a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels and produces the same 16 million colors. Unreal!
Final layout

Final layout

Droid RAZR Camera Made by Omnivision

November 18, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

Oh hey, Droid RAZR has an 8MP camera. And it’s made by Omnivision. The wascally wabbits at Chipworks just sliced apart their unit, did some serious digging, and uncovered the goods — just like with the iPhone 4S. Here’s some visual proof:

 

X-ray of the RAZR camera from a side view

X-ray of the RAZR camera from a side view

 

Die mark clearly identifying Omnivision as its creator

Die mark clearly identifying Omnivision as its creator

 

Image of the sensor, showing its pixel density

Image of the sensor, showing its pixel density

Kindle Fire Teardown

November 15, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

The Kindle Fire teardown marks an important precedent for us at iFixit: our first in-house chip unmasking. Today, with the guidance from our pals at Chipworks, we fought Fire with heat-gun fire and desoldered the Hynix SoC package to discover that Amazon is making use of Texas Instruments’ OMAP 4430 processor. We were equally delighted with the goodies inside the Fire, as we were with our newly acquired skill.

Blazing your own trail into the Fire doesn’t require much. A Phillips #0 screwdriver, some plastic opening tools, a spudger, and a couple guitar picks will do the trick. By and large, we were blown away with how easy it was to disassemble the Fire. Minimal adhesive, standard screws, and the non-fused display filled us with glee. Although its plain design (no volume buttons, cameras, etc.) meant fewer components, we had no hesitation in rewarding the Fire with a sterling 8 out of 10 for repairability.

Teardown highlights:

  • According to the power specifications listed on the back side of the Kindle Fire, an input power of 5 V DC at 1.8 Amps is suggested. Why is this important? A computer USB port typically puts out no more than .9 Amps (USB 3.0), which means it’ll take a looong time to fully charge the tablet through USB.
  • Very little prying and plucking is required to open the Kindle Fire. It’s a very nice departure from the iPad 2, which is almost impossible to put back together once taken apart. And all you need are some plastic opening tools and guitar picks to help you along the way.
  • Removing the back case reveals the motherboard and a sizable battery. There are shiny metal plates on the back case that help provide protection for the internal components, as well as heat sinking and EMI shielding. Unfortunately, this mirror-like shielding inevitably results in a narcissistic battery.
  • This battery sure puts out… 16.28 watt-hours, to be exact. However, due to the size of the Fire, its battery’s 3.7 V potential and 4400 mAh capacity don’t quite stack up to the specs of the larger iPad 2’s battery.
  • The good news: two years down the line — when the battery decides to go kaput — it will be significantly easier to replace the battery in the Kindle Fire than its Apple competitor.
  • The chips on board:
  • Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 Processor
  • Samsung KLM8G2FEJA 8 GB Flash Memory
  • Hynix H9TKNNN4K 512 MB of Mobile DDR2 RAM
  • Texas Instruments 603B107 Fully Integrated Power Management IC with Switch Mode Charger
  • Texas Instruments LCDS83B FlatLink 10-135 MHz Transmitter
  • Jorjin WG7310 WLAN/BT/FM Combo Module
  • Texas Instruments AIC3110 Low-Power Audio Codec With 1.3W Stereo Class-D Speaker Amplifier
  • Texas Instruments WS245 4-Bit Dual-Supply Bus Transceiver
  • Continuing our IC exploration, we decided to sneak a peak under the Jorjin package’s cover. We uncovered a Texas Instruments WL1270B 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi solution. According to Chipworks, the WL1270 is an older chip that was designed to work with the TI OMAP 3530. It’s interesting that the Fire has it, given that it’s coupled with the newer OMAP 4430.
  • Separating the display from the glass was a breeze, which was a nice departure from the usual fused glass ordeals. Thanks, Amazon!
  • We may be comparing apples and oranges here, but the original Kindle contained roughly 15,999,996 fewer colors. They were as follows: gray-ish, gray, grayer, and grayest.

 

TI OMAP 4430 revealed
TI OMAP 4430 revealed
Final layout

Final layout

Motorola Droid RAZR Teardown

November 11, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

A recent Verizon commercial depicted the Droid RAZR as being able to cut through lamp posts with ease. We figured it would be an excellent replacement for our katanas, which we used specifically for lamp-cutting in the past. Sadly, the phone didn’t function as promised — so instead we investigated how Motorola managed to package all of the RAZR’s technology into such a thin frame.

We found the RAZR’s slim figure was also its downfall. Motorola had to sacrifice repairability in order to attain that slim profile, and consequently the RAZR received a meager 4 out of 10 repairability score. Attribute that to lots of adhesive used throughout the interior, a fused LCD to the front glass, and a tedious (and at times heart-fluttering, should you hear the plastic creaking) disassembly process.

Teardown highlights:

  • The RAZR measures in at a mere 0.28 inches thick, but increases to 0.42 inches at the prevalent camera bulge. For comparison, Verizon bragged back in September that the Droid Bionic was the slimmest 4G LTE phone at 0.43 inches thick.
  • How can something that provides so much rigidity bend so much? The thin plastic back cover, mated with the woven Kevlar, provides tough (yet flexible) protection for the internals. With the tensile yield strength of Kevlar being on par with some steels, the back case is the least of our worries as far as critical future repairs go.
  • Just because the cover is made from Kevlar doesn’t mean it’s bulletproof. Ballistic vests feature layers upon layers of tightly woven Kevlar, as well as a large ceramic plate. Long story short, don’t shoot your Droid RAZR and expect it to survive.
  • The Droid RAZR is equipped with two liquid damage indicators: one on the bottom and one on the right side of the phone. Motorola / Verizon will definitely know if you tried to test the water-proofiness of the phone.
  • It’s quite the ordeal for removing the battery, but at least you don’t have to rip apart the entire device. Instead of the traditional battery connector socket or soldered wires found in other phones, the Droid RAZR utilizes contact points for its battery connector.
  • The battery comes with a handy “remove battery” tab should you ever want to replace it. At least that part of the procedure is easy.
  • Measuring in at 3.79″ long, 2.25″ wide, and .110″ thick with a capacity of 1750 mAh, the battery provides over 300 mAh more capacity than that of the iPhone 4S.
  • We peeled off the plastic cover from the perimeter of the rear-facing camera to reveal a hidden screw near the flash LED. Sneaky, sneaky Motorola.
  • How extreme are the space constraints inside a device this thin? (http://bit.ly/razr_qrtr) From bottom to top, you can see the glass, display, motherboard, motherboard chips, and then a U.S. quarter stacked on top. The quarter was not found inside the RAZR, but is merely shown for thickness purposes — so don’t open your phone with the intent of finding some dough.
  • The majority of the hump on the top of the phone is attributable to the boxy 8 MP camera. It’s a size constraint that many “thin is in” phone manufacturers are struggling to work around.
  • There are a ton of chips on the front side of the motherboard. To keep the design svelte, Motorola packed pretty much everything on one side of the board. Key players include:
  • Toshiba THGBM4G7D2GBAIE 16GB EMMC Flash Memory
  • Samsung K3PE7E700M-XGC1 4Gb LPDDR2 RAM
  • Qualcomm MDM6600 Dual-Mode Baseband/RF Transciever
  • Qualcomm PM8028 Power Management IC
  • Avago ACPM-7868 Quad-Band Power Amplifier
  • Motorola T6VP0XBG-0001 (believed to be the LCM 2.0 LTE baseband processor)
  • Texas Instruments WL1285C Wilink 7 Bluetooth/Wi-Fi/GPS
  • Skyworks 77449 Power Amplifier Module for LTE/EUTRAN Bands XIII/XIV
  • Toshiba Y9A0A111308LA Memory Stack
  • ST Ericsson CPCAP 6556002
  • Hynix H90H1GH51JMP
  • Infineon 5726 SLU A1 H1118 3A126586
  • Bosch 2133 C3H L1ABG accelerometer
  • And the back of the board? Nothing of interest, which makes sense given how tightly packed the motherboard is to the display.
  • The LCD is permanently mated to the glass, meaning you’ll have to shell out money for both even if you shatter just the glass.
Very bendable back cover
Very bendable back cover
Final layout

Final layout

The “New” MacBook Pro

November 8, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Phillip

With the recent wave of mildly-updated “new” products from Apple, we were skeptical that the “new” MacBook Pro would be significantly different from the one it replaced. But, being the inquisitive folk we are at iFixit — and feeling it was our civic duty to investigate the matter, come hell or high water — we pulled out the checkbook and bought one, just to be sure.

Our initial skepticism was validated after pulling off the lower case with our trusty Phillips #00 screwdriver: nothing appeared to have changed. But a closer look within revealed that Apple did make some teeny-tiny modifications to its “new” laptop. Sadly, those changes did not involve any magic unicorns.

Everything seems to be identical to the previous generation at first glance.

The number of graphics memory chips has grown, resulting in double the graphics memory (how about that!) from last year’s model. Looking back at the last MacBook Pro teardown, we find Apple left room for an extra 2 Gb of graphics memory, which they apparently took advantage of this time. The only other big changes worth mentioning are the updated Radeon graphics processor and slightly faster i5 and i7 processors. If you’re keen on details, click on the logic board images below for a full-resolution peek. Fair warning for 56K users: the images may take a while to load, as they’re ginormous.

The growing population of graphics memory can be seen at the bottom center of the logic board.

Shiny new processors!

All in all, any changes to the new Pro are only hardware updates, leaving the internal and external design untouched. We get our hopes up every time Apple says they’ve got something new for us, but recently have become a bit disappointed with their definition of “new.” Undoubtably, the updated MacBook Pro is a little faster and yes, it’s a great computer, but if they’re not going to make significant changes to their machines, can they stop piquing our interest with the n-word? These things don’t run cheap!

A Peek Inside the iPod Touch 5th Generation

October 20, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — jake

It’s easy to overlook that a “new” iPod Touch recently came out of Apple HQ, especially since all the craziness of the iPhone 4S launch is still in full effect. We say “new” in quotes because we learned our lesson with the “new” Nano that was also released the same day — our teardown showed the Nano’s internals were almost identical to the previous year’s model.

After last year’s 4th Generation Touch brought such awesome upgrades — Apple A4 system-on-a-chip, 3-axis gyroscope, two cameras, and Biggest Loser-esque weight loss — we were more than eager to see what the 5th Generation would bring. So what does this year’s Touch have in store?

After close examination, we confirmed that the front panel is, in fact, white. +1 for us. So far so good.

And… that’s about it. To our dismay there is not much else different between the iPod Touch released last year and the one released last week. The disassembly process is identical to that shown in the 4th Generation Teardown, and all of the internals appear to be the same as well. Even the repair-unfriendly ribbon cable connecting the soldered volume buttons to the logic board is right where Apple left it.

Though we observed no drastic changes to the Touch’s innards, we proceded to closely examine the logic board:

 

Notable differences between the 4th Generation and 5th Generation iPod Touch logic boards include the following:

  • Possible upgrade to the WiFi/Bluetooth chip package by Murata with part number RV KM1721006
  • New markings VT1K3441AQ on the A4 chip, whereas last year’s A4 had K4X2G643GE markings
  • New gyroscope with markings AGD8 2131
  • 2129 33DH chip next to the gyroscope seems to have been packaged in the same die with the gyroscope in last year’s Touch

Even though this year’s iPod Touch yielded only minimal changes, we wouldn’t want to rob anyone of a nice layout shot, so here you go:

We’re quite hopeful that next year Apple releases a “Midas Touch” version of the music player, encased in solid gold. They can keep all the hardware the same and just call it “new” again!