Video Overview

Introduction

Since the dawn of the iPad, Apple has remained resolute that the iPad is meant to be enjoyed sans-stylus. So when the iPad Pro debuted with a $99 must-have accessory in the form of a stylus, we were obviously intrigued. What makes the Apple Pencil so special? From what we've heard, it's got some nifty features, but we're more interested in what's going on inside that shiny white cylinder. Join us as we find out!

Looking for more gadget teardowns? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to get the latest teardown news first!

This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your Apple Pencil, use our service manual.

Image 1/3: Bluetooth 4.1 Image 2/3: Scans at twice the rate of finger inputs Image 3/3: Up to 12 hours of battery life
  • Apple's been tight-lipped on this pointer's finer points, but here's what we know for sure:

    • Bluetooth 4.1

    • Scans at twice the rate of finger inputs

    • Up to 12 hours of battery life

    • 175 mm (L) x 8.9 mm (D)

    • Lightning connector for charging

Add Comment

Image 1/3: First: the Microsoft Surface Pen (from a [https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Microsoft+Surface+Pro+4+Teardown/51568|Surface Pro 4|new_window=true]). Image 2/3: Second: The original "[http://www.fiftythree.com/pencil|iPad Pencil|new_window=true]" by 53. It works specifically with their Paper app, and has a lot of the same features as the new Apple Pencil. Image 3/3: Also, it's really easy to open up and get the battery out.
  • There's been a lot of talk about Pencil. Let's sketch out a couple quick comparisons to some other styling styluses.

  • First: the Microsoft Surface Pen (from a Surface Pro 4).

  • Second: The original "iPad Pencil" by 53. It works specifically with their Paper app, and has a lot of the same features as the new Apple Pencil.

    • Also, it's really easy to open up and get the battery out.

    • Double-also, it has an eraser.

Add Comment

Image 1/3: The  Lightning Connector cap snaps into place with magnets, but we're expecting most of these will be [https://twitter.com/podcast411/status/667111959729324032|lost|new_window=true] by next month. Image 2/3: Popping the cap off reveals a brand new, never-before-seen model number: A1603. Welcome to the world, Pencil! Image 3/3: Popping the cap off reveals a brand new, never-before-seen model number: A1603. Welcome to the world, Pencil!
  • Apple was nice enough to include a spare tip, as well as a Lightning-to-Lightning adapter (a last minute addition) to save users from having to precariously charge their Pencils directly from their iPads.

  • The Lightning Connector cap snaps into place with magnets, but we're expecting most of these will be lost by next month.

  • Popping the cap off reveals a brand new, never-before-seen model number: A1603. Welcome to the world, Pencil!

Add Comment

Image 1/3: A peek inside reveals a tiny metal bit sunk deeply into the tip, presumably to get as close to the screen as possible. Image 2/3: This likely connects to one of the two [https://youtu.be/iicnVez5U7M?t=72|emitters |new_window=true] in the tip that allow the iPad Pro to determine the Pencil's angle and orientation relative to the display, and adjust the pen stroke accordingly. Image 3/3: The digitizer on an iPad Pro should be able to determine the distance from each emitter to the screen—and from that calculate the angle of the Pencil relative to the iPad.
  • Taking a nosedive into the Pencil, we start at the nib, which comes off quietly with a few quick twists.

  • A peek inside reveals a tiny metal bit sunk deeply into the tip, presumably to get as close to the screen as possible.

    • This likely connects to one of the two emitters in the tip that allow the iPad Pro to determine the Pencil's angle and orientation relative to the display, and adjust the pen stroke accordingly.

    • The digitizer on an iPad Pro should be able to determine the distance from each emitter to the screen—and from that calculate the angle of the Pencil relative to the iPad.

Add Comment

Image 1/3: Author's note: the fact that they bothered to call this the Pencil—and not the Pen/Stylus—and then ''failed to include an eraser'' is just absurd. Image 2/3: Even after a warm conversation with our iOpener, the Lightning Connector assembly still doesn't want to come ''completely'' out of its shell, but a quick tug frees it from the Pencil. Image 3/3: But at what cost... We definitely tore a flex cable...
  • We're eager to get a closer look at the eraser Lightning Connector, so we turn up the heat with our trusty iOpener.

    • Author's note: the fact that they bothered to call this the Pencil—and not the Pen/Stylus—and then failed to include an eraser is just absurd.

  • Even after a warm conversation with our iOpener, the Lightning Connector assembly still doesn't want to come completely out of its shell, but a quick tug frees it from the Pencil.

  • But at what cost... We definitely tore a flex cable...

    • Something tells us this isn't going to be one of those teardowns where everything goes back together at the end.

Did you find any adhesive holding the guts to the case? Could you simply have pushed the guts out through the top instead of cutting the case or does it look like they molded the case onto the guts?

plink53 - Reply

You can see the adhesive residue around the metal inner case, looks like hot-melt glue or something very permanent.

Tom Chai -

Not all pencils have erasers. I still have a set of Swiss made artist pencils which do not have erasers. The programs the Apple Pencil will be used with all have digital erasers and undo capabilities. In my 40 years as an architect, I never used an eraser on the end of a pencil. I always used a separate eraser or an electric eraser. This is not a No. 2 pencil for 3rd grade. The author's comment is absurd and shows his or her lack of experience in using pencils in a professional setting. Sorry for venting, but I'm tired of people making this silly comment.

johnleestjohn - Reply

I am an architect with 52 years of experience, and I have been using the pencils' erasers every time. IFixit is correct in pointing out this absurd omission by Apple

Mark - Reply

the tip is much more precise than the cap end. to "add an eraser" to the other end, they'd end up with a tip at each end, which sounds pretty absurd to me. frankly it's easier to tap an onscreen control to switch to eraser tool than it is to flip the pencil around in your hand and back

James Geiss - Reply

Image 1/3: Cutting through the ~~Bic ~~ Apple Pencil's plastic casing reveals ~~an ink cartridge~~ a metal casing. Image 2/3: And we haven't punctured the battery...yet! Looks like our [http://amzn.com/B00000DMFM|Operation] skills are finally paying off. Image 3/3: And we haven't punctured the battery...yet! Looks like our [http://amzn.com/B00000DMFM|Operation] skills are finally paying off.
  • Having thoroughly dissected the top and bottom portions and finding no obvious point of entry, we throw caution to the wind and break out the big guns.

  • Cutting through the Bic Apple Pencil's plastic casing reveals an ink cartridge a metal casing.

    • And we haven't punctured the battery...yet! Looks like our Operation skills are finally paying off.

any possibility of pushing the internal out from the tip?

dennis97519 - Reply

Image 1/3: A quick glance along the inner metal cylinder reveals a tiny tri-point screw à la [https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Apple+Watch+Teardown/40655#s93658|Apple Watch|new_window=true]. Image 2/3: Luckily we've got the tools for this in our arsenal now. No files needed! Image 3/3: Below the tiny fastener, we spy some tiny contacts, which we assume are for Apple's internal testing.
  • Whew—that was some work! Wiping up the plastic dust and pausing for a quick burrito break, we take a moment to appreciate the fruit of our efforts: Pencil sans case.

  • A quick glance along the inner metal cylinder reveals a tiny tri-point screw à la Apple Watch.

    • Luckily we've got the tools for this in our arsenal now. No files needed!

  • Below the tiny fastener, we spy some tiny contacts, which we assume are for Apple's internal testing.

Add Comment

Image 1/3: We're rewarded with the antenna and battery assembly. No graphite at the core of ''this'' Pencil. Image 2/3: This tiny 3.82 V, 0.329 Wh lithium-ion battery holds just ''5%'' of the charge of an [https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iPhone+6s+Teardown/48170#s107877|iPhone 6s|new_window=true] battery. Image 3/3: For the sake of scorekeeping: Microsoft's Surface Pen has a user-replaceable [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AAAA_battery|AAAA battery|new_window=true]. These are usually rated anywhere from 0.4 to 0.9 Wh.
  • After some more cutting and prying—and a brief conversation about laser cutters—we bust through a second (this time metal) layer.

  • We're rewarded with the antenna and battery assembly. No graphite at the core of this Pencil.

  • This tiny 3.82 V, 0.329 Wh lithium-ion battery holds just 5% of the charge of an iPhone 6s battery.

    • For the sake of scorekeeping: Microsoft's Surface Pen has a user-replaceable AAAA battery. These are usually rated anywhere from 0.4 to 0.9 Wh.

Add Comment

Image 1/2: We also get a better look at that ribbon cable we sheared earlier... It runs between the Lightning connector and battery, with some battery charging ICs along the way (we assume). Image 2/2: We've caught sight of more chips at the other end, so we ditch the battery and move to the fun stuff—like the [http://cdn.meme.am/instances2/500x/2954263.jpg|teeeny logic board!|new_window=true]
  • With the metal casing off, we pop off the antenna, decked in the familiar Apple black and gold.

  • We also get a better look at that ribbon cable we sheared earlier... It runs between the Lightning connector and battery, with some battery charging ICs along the way (we assume).

  • We've caught sight of more chips at the other end, so we ditch the battery and move to the fun stuff—like the teeeny logic board!

    • This little board is folded in half to make the most of the minimal space. Clever!

I nearly peed myself I was laughing so hard. Ermagersh!

David Spalding - Reply

Image 1/2: ST Microelectronics [http://www.st.com/web/en/resource/technical/document/datasheet/DM00048356.pdf|STML151UCY6|new_window=true] Ultra-low-power 32-bit RISC ARM-based [http://www.arm.com/products/processors/cortex-m/cortex-m3.php|Cortex-M3|new_window=true] MCU Image 2/2: ST Microelectronics AS5C Y533 (also found in the 2015 Apple TV)
  • What is this—a logic board for ants? Not quite, but weighing in at a whopping 1.0 gram it's definitely the smallest we've ever seen. With the hard work out of the way, we pause to see what makes the Pencil so smart:

    • ST Microelectronics STML151UCY6 Ultra-low-power 32-bit RISC ARM-based Cortex-M3 MCU

    • ST Microelectronics AS5C Y533 (also found in the 2015 Apple TV)

    • L05286 QS4 VG Z SGP 528

    • EWX 01129

    • Cambridge Silicon Radio (Qualcomm) CSR1012A05 Bluetooth Smart IC

I wonder what OS runs on the pen and if there's a way of finding this out.

IOOI SqAR - Reply

It is using a pretty low power ARM MCU, so it likely doesn't run a full OS

ianguy -

not all microcontrollers have an OS.

Likely just a bootloader inside

dennis97519 -

I was trying to figure out why they'd add bluetooth???

iliketurtuls - Reply

The pressure sensing happens on the pen itself not the screen, so it sends this data along the relative angle to the iPad

This does make me wonder why not an eraser on the other end...

Kalvinjj -

From what Apple has stated officially, it seems that the pen is actually passive in the process of determining position and tilt, in the sense that the Apple Pen has two signal emitters that the iPad Pro itself detects, and then calculates this information from. There probably is at least a minimum level of communication over BT to synchronize the process and generally facilitate everything. The only real sensor data that needs to be communicated is the 'force' level. This is done to offload as much detection and processing as possible from the pen, and minimize the activity of the BT radio. This allows for a much less powerful processor and corresponding battery to be used, generally making things (hopefully) more efficient and, of course, increasing Apple's profit margin. (If I have erred, feel free to correct me.) :)

JMC -

Think of a wii mote... what does a wii mote have?

Bluetooth for communication.

An accelerometer.

A gyroscope.

A camera for IR detection (distance).

So doesn't that ring any bells?

What does this thing have?

An accelerometer (maybe the EWX 11290)

A gyroscope (maybe L05286)

A sensor for pressure detection in the tip, including the chip.

So what is this? A wii mote in apple clothes.

TarAnTani -

This is just an intuitive guess, so feel free to delete it, but BT is probably needed, at the very minimum, to serve to relay the information from the variable pressure sensor to the iPad Pro.

JMC - Reply

would it be possible to retake the PCB picture with a ruler next to it with inches or Millimetres on it ?

bwgvanderveer - Reply

Image 1/3: Peeling up one of the tiniest boards we've ever seen we find a set of three matching ticks. Three on the end of the pen assembly, and three on the tiny board. Image 2/3: If we had to hazard a guess, we'd say these helped sense pressure by measuring [https://ifixit-guide-objects.s3.amazonaws.com/igo/video/ifixit/IrwXE2uyVVEYXZyx_MP4_720.mp4|movement] between these two parts. Image 3/3: Chances are this chip could tell us more about how this works...
  • We turn back to the metal casing to extract the pen nib and look for its sensor magic.

  • Peeling up one of the tiniest boards we've ever seen we find a set of three matching ticks. Three on the end of the pen assembly, and three on the tiny board.

    • If we had to hazard a guess, we'd say these helped sense pressure by measuring movement between these two parts.

  • Chances are this chip could tell us more about how this works...

    • It reads 8529043 343S00008-A1

Add Comment

Image 1/3: Get a load of that tiny spring-loaded tip, and the two emitters buried within the shaft. Image 2/3: Just for kicks, we also imaged the itty bitty folded logic board, and the Lightning Connector and cap. Image 3/3: Fortunately this was captured when the Pencil was still intact, so you can still see the connector neatly soldered to its little ribbon cable. It's a thing of beauty (at least until the day you need to repair something).
  • Further teardown of the tip seems impractical, but that's okay: we have eyes everywhere, thanks to some slick X-ray imaging from our pals at Creative Electron.

    • Get a load of that tiny spring-loaded tip, and the two emitters buried within the shaft.

  • Just for kicks, we also imaged the itty bitty folded logic board, and the Lightning Connector and cap.

    • Fortunately this was captured when the Pencil was still intact, so you can still see the connector neatly soldered to its little ribbon cable. It's a thing of beauty (at least until the day you need to repair something).

I use my Apple Pencil for precision drawing - I usually write with a 0.5mm mechanical pencil on paper. The size of the Apple Pencil tip is actually too big and gets in the way of seeing what I want to draw. I'm used to using a Cintiq pen on their tablets and their pen tips are MUCH narrower. I was actually thinking of milling down the last 2-3mm of the Apple Pencil tip to a diameter of about 1mm or so (which is the tip/barrel diameter on the Cintiq). The trouble is that the xray you show in figure 12 renders the plastic of the tip itself pretty much invisible so I'm unclear what room I have to play with. Do you have any other pictures at possible different exposures that do show the plastic of the tip?

Mick Mueck - Reply

May be new tips will come in the future for updates!!! Did you contacted Apple?

Vr1 -

So, that spring must be what I see poking out. I've used the pencil everyday on average of 5 hours a day and it has only been two weeks and it's worn down already. Hopefully replacement tips will be made available soon.

Mike Villegas - Reply

Image 1/3: The pen nib and cap can be replaced if worn out (or lost). Image 2/3: The pencil is clearly not meant to be opened or repaired; you can't get inside without destroying the device. Image 3/3: The layers of plastic and metal holding interior components are impossible to remove without shredding.
  • Apple Pencil Repairability 1 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair):

    • The pen nib and cap can be replaced if worn out (or lost).

    • The pencil is clearly not meant to be opened or repaired; you can't get inside without destroying the device.

    • The layers of plastic and metal holding interior components are impossible to remove without shredding.

    • The battery, enough for a 12 hour run, is impossible to replace, giving the device a limited lifespan.

As for the battery, I'm sure Apple did some initial testing to make sure it could handle enough charging cycles to last longer than the normal time people would have one before they lost it. I'd love to see Apple come up with a Find-my-ApplePencil app. :-)

plink53 - Reply

Absolutely! It'd be great if the the pencil could ping back its location using GPS, or cellular, or WiFi, or...wait we have low power bluetooth...hmm, I guess it could tell us if we are in the same 15 foot radius.

Jeremy1026 -

Now THERE's a good reason for having BT onboard :D

Emanon Adespoton -

What is the range of BT? The "15 foot radius" comment sounds about right - BT would be rather useless for locating it, unless there is some "long-range-high-power beacon mode". As for GPS - how much would that cost? Are there combination Wifi/BT/GPS chips available for a reasonable cost? And then the antenna - can the same antenna receive signals on all three bands (or "on-chip" antennas? I don't know what the status of that tech is)

But I'd think the biggest problem with "find-my-Pencil" would be that it would have to always be on - thus sucking battery life (maybe they could put solar panels on the outside somehow? (see "Printable anodes for flexible organic solar cell modules" 2004 http://www.ec-ind.com/PEDOT/Printable%20... Don't know if that is still "current" though.)

jimwitte -

The cap on the Apple Pencil has a magnet inside. Can you dissect the cap to see what sort of magnet this is, how large it is, how powerful it is, and how it's oriented? This would be greatly appreciated... Thanks!

steve - Reply

20 Comments

What vice did you use to hold the iPencil while you opened it? I need one.

Calion - Reply

I actually used our economy suction vise, it's pretty hefty and very stable :)

Andrew Optimus Goldberg -

Care to tear apart the female-to-female Lightning adapter? Interested to know the pinout!

Jake - Reply

I'm quite sure just a parallel connection.

Ryo Saeba -

Could we get a tear down of a Surface Pen? #3 maybe #4?

Eric Pellegrini - Reply

I'd also like to see how the lightning connector flexes inside its base, like in the YouTube video that destroys the pencil by flexing it around connected to the iPad, would you open it up please?

TheBlackBunny - Reply

“The battery, enough for a 12 hour run, is impossible to replace, giving the device a limited lifespan.”

Other lithium-ion batteries are rated for perhaps 1000 full-charge cycles, suggesting that a person using this pencil 8 hours every weekday would see a 6-year life.

That's a crude SWAG… perhaps you could estimate how “limited” the lifespan really is.

WaltFrench - Reply

It also happens that Lithium Ion degrades with time using it or not, undercharge, overcharge (granted, the charging circuit won't allow these 2), or temperature variations.

So it could go well down to ~2 years before needing too frequent charging.

Also since it's a pen, it will fall a lot, this will also lower this value.

Probably the pen will last long enough but it's definitely a product made to be replaced along the iPad or something like this.

Kalvinjj -

I would have given it a 0 out of 10 . Having to completely destroy something to service it is counter logical.

Apple is supposed to have the best engineers in the world but look what they've done.

If the Apple Pencil were made in my shop it would have a threaded end to open the case, a fully removable battery and an inner liner pcb that would slide out. Add a Qi power receiver for wireless charging and there would be no need for connectors of any kind.

Steve Jobs was right. Pens are bad.

woodytus - Reply

It would probably also be twice as thick and 5 times heavier.

scottjl -

The cap on the Apple Pencil that protects the Lightning connector has a magnet inside... can you dissect the cap to show what sort of magnet this, how large it is, and how it's oriented?

steve - Reply

I don't blame Apple for not making it fixable. That's pretty hard at this scale. Two co-workers and I developed the active stylus for the DROID XYBOARD (http://www.a4c.com/product/motorola-droi...) a few years ago, and it doesn't come apart without a long soak in 100% isopropyl alcohol (0% water, obviously) to soften up the assembly adhesives. But at least it ran on an easily replaceable and surprisingly easy-to-get AAAA battery, getting about 6 months of life per battery.

Dan Wagner - Reply

The MCU part number is misstated in the article. Its an STM32L151... (not STML151...). It is part of ST Microelectronics ultra low power STM32L family. Relay a wonderful part to work with and fully capable of running quite a few different micro kernels and RTOS variants in addition to easily scheduling bare metal code using its fifteen level nested vectored interrupt controller.

gdh22 - Reply

Exactly the same as any other Cortex M in the world.

santiagogf89 -

But what is the pressure sensitivity? I can't find it listed anywhere. This is the only video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaIQ5SvK...

Nat Russell - Reply

Repairing a pencil, really? I believe that repairing this is beyond the capabilities of anyone without a microscope, on account of it *being a stylus*. This shouldn't have a repairability score.

Elizabeth Myers - Reply

Whoa, Apple pencil is unnecessarily complicated re-invention of what's out there. Take a look at Samsung S-pen teardown. It's simplicity in itself, no parts to replace, no battery to replace. S-pen is brilliant.

coldspring21 - Reply

Step 10. Does the logic board boot loader could be upgradable???

Does a simple iBeacon has any hardware that may facilitate the proximity task? Why Apple did not included the proximity of the Pencil at the Notification Center if it was lost? What is missing???

Vr1 - Reply

Find-my-ApplePencil app. :-)

Would it ever be available?

Vr1 - Reply

My apple pencil started making a weird clicking noise and the nib is kinda crooked, I sent it to apple care and they said they wouldn't fix it ro give me a new one since it was accidental damage, but I've just been drawing with it for 2 months, any idea how to fix this or why this happened ?

rcarreno - Reply

Add Comment

View Statistics:

Past 24 Hours: 58

Past 7 Days: 352

Past 30 Days: 1,655

All Time: 111,045