Introduction

The Apple Watch is one step closer to a super spy accessory with its Series 3 capable of making phone calls. What does a watch look like when Apple sticks a phone in it? Since teardowns are our calling we figure we'll dial right in!

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This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your Apple Watch Series 3, use our service manual.

What's that in your shiny new Apple Watch?
  • What's that in your shiny new Apple Watch?

    • Second-generation OLED Retina display with Force Touch

      • Consistent with the original Apple Watch, the Series 3 comes in two sizes: 38 mm (272 × 340 pixels, 290 ppi) and 42 mm (312 × 390 pixels, 302 ppi).

    • Custom-designed Apple S3 SiP (System in Package)

    • Optional LTE and UMTS, built in GPS/GLONASS + NFC + Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4 GHz + Bluetooth 4.2

    • Accelerometer + gyroscope + heart rate sensor + microphone + speaker + barometric altimeter + ambient light sensor

    • Water resistance rating (up to 50 meters)

    • WatchOS 4

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Before we get inside, put on your X-ray glasses for a sneak peek. Many Bothans died to bring us this information. Just kidding. This image is courtesy of the friendly  X-ray experts at Creative Electron.
  • Before we get inside, put on your X-ray glasses for a sneak peek.

    • Many Bothans died to bring us this information. Just kidding. This image is courtesy of the friendly X-ray experts at Creative Electron.

  • While the overall layout is fairly unchanged from the original Apple Watch we tore down and X-rayed in 2015, it looks like there may be a few extra solder pads under the speaker (top right of this image).

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Time for a quick check of the back to make sure we bought the right watch. Yep, this here is an Apple Watch Series 3, the most exclusive and top of the line Apple wrist computer, offering unparalleled computing power and fashion for the next 51 weeks. We even got the LTE model!
  • Time for a quick check of the back to make sure we bought the right watch.

  • Yep, this here is an Apple Watch Series 3, the most exclusive and top of the line Apple wrist computer, offering unparalleled computing power and fashion for the next 51 weeks.

    • We even got the LTE model!

  • Next to that secret diagnostic port we picked out a new model number: A1889.

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Cables de-ZIF'd, we're clear to get a look at the display. Spec-wise, the display is unchanged from the Series 2, with one key difference—it now functions as a multifrequency (LTE?) antenna.
  • Cables de-ZIF'd, we're clear to get a look at the display.

  • Spec-wise, the display is unchanged from the Series 2, with one key difference—it now functions as a multifrequency (LTE?) antenna.

    • We'll be testing compatibility to see if the displays really are interchangeable.

  • This display has one fewer IC than last year. Probably wasn't important.

    • Analog Devices 343S00092 touch controller

    • NXP 80V18 NFC module

    • Empty solder pad (20211CP TD1628A goes here?)

天线馈点在什么地方,怎么解决天线净空问题呢?

emouse - Reply

It will be interesting to see the compatibility between series 2 display and series 3. This will also be a good test for LTE.

Thomas - Reply

  • As in the prior version, further access is barred by a tiny tri-point screw—one of 64 possible contingencies we've come prepared for.

  • The top third of the watch is labeled "Taptic Engine," and that's mostly true—but the label also hides a bracket that guards, among other things, the battery connector we're searching for.

  • Time to pick away the power pack and see what gives this watch its all-day go-juice.

    • Professional teardown engineer on a closed track. Do not attempt battery replacement on the go.

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While the iPhone's battery continues to shrink in capacity, Apple's watch battery has been  subtly pumped up: The Series 3 battery, designated A1848, packs in 1.07 Whr (279 mAh at 3.82 V).

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So far so good. We pull out the standard Force Touch sensor/gasket, equipped with the same Analog Devices AD7149 capacitance sensor controller that we found in the Series 2. Continuing our parts-picking spree, we pluck out the Taptic Engine, seemingly unchanged from watches  yore. Then out pops the antenna array, including what we believe to be the GPS antenna.
  • So far so good. We pull out the standard Force Touch sensor/gasket, equipped with the same Analog Devices AD7149 capacitance sensor controller that we found in the Series 2.

  • Continuing our parts-picking spree, we pluck out the Taptic Engine, seemingly unchanged from watches yore.

  • Then out pops the antenna array, including what we believe to be the GPS antenna.

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The plucking continues, as we remove the self-emptying speaker, designed to sonically blast out water after your watch takes a dip. After an entirely Series 2-ish experience, we're finally rewarded with something new—a whole new section of RF chips, surely responsible for handling the added LTE functionality. In another new twist, the air vent hole next to the microphone is now populated by what looks like a barometric pressure sensor.
  • The plucking continues, as we remove the self-emptying speaker, designed to sonically blast out water after your watch takes a dip.

  • After an entirely Series 2-ish experience, we're finally rewarded with something new—a whole new section of RF chips, surely responsible for handling the added LTE functionality.

  • In another new twist, the air vent hole next to the microphone is now populated by what looks like a barometric pressure sensor.

  • Time to pull this board!

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Did you guys hear that you can surf with this silicon? Let's see who's in this lineup: ST Microelectronics ST33G1M2 32 bit MCU with ARM SecurCore SC300

Hi iFixit,

is it possible to see what’s inside the Apple S6 module ? I suspect LTE modem and others are inside ?? Thanks

Bagan Tech - Reply

Hate to do this but someone else removed the cap to show the components hiding underneath , heres the link http://techinsights.com/about-techinsigh...

Don’t worry ifixit, you are still the first place I go to for teardowns, but its always good to look around for more info.

aaronzvz -

After a comparison of X-Ray picture above with the teardown, we came to believe that there are at least 3-4 chips missing on the teardown, and they’re most likely located under the “S3” marked radiator sink, glued to it from the other side. These chips likely include the Apple CPU itself, the modem and possibly the RF.

William Bakshi - Reply

Last call: back cover. It's press-fit over a teflon-like O-ring, but a thumbs-up and a firm push relieves it of duty. The material has been standardized across watch models and souped up to snazzy ceramic, replacing the previous Ion-X or Sapphire options. It also houses the PPG sensor array that is responsible for sensing heart rate.
  • Last call: back cover. It's press-fit over a teflon-like O-ring, but a thumbs-up and a firm push relieves it of duty.

  • The material has been standardized across watch models and souped up to snazzy ceramic, replacing the previous Ion-X or Sapphire options.

  • It also houses the PPG sensor array that is responsible for sensing heart rate.

  • Also it appears that the wireless charging coil has been slightly modified to support most Qi wireless chargers.

  • Lastly, with the new barometric altimeter taking the spot next to the microphone, where did the air vent go? Answer: hiding out right here, next to the diagnostic port.

the non-cellular variant is still that composite back, while the higher end versions have always been ceramic. Sapphire or Ion-X is only the front display cover.

Josh Calvetti - Reply

The watch back is ceramic on the GPS + Cellular Series 3, but it’s composite on the GPS-only model. Previous watches have had a composite or ceramic back, never sapphire or Ion-X. Source: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204507

Ryan Steele - Reply

Here's all the clockwork watchwork! Final big thanks to Circuitwise for giving up a bit of their weekend to help us out! And thanks again to Creative Electron for putting the X(-ray) in "excellent!"
  • Here's all the clockwork watchwork!

  • Final big thanks to Circuitwise for giving up a bit of their weekend to help us out!

  • And thanks again to Creative Electron for putting the X(-ray) in "excellent!"

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Final Thoughts
  • Watch band replacements remain fast and simple.
  • Screen replacements are difficult but do-able—it's the first thing to come off, and detaches via simple ZIF connectors.
  • Battery replacements are tricky but fairly straightforward once you're inside, provided you're armed with a Y000 screwdriver.
  • While not proprietary, incredibly tiny tri-point screws are a repair hinderance.
  • Replacing any of the component cables requires microsoldering.
  • The mostly resin-encased S3 system makes most board-level repairs impossible.
Repairability Score
6
Repairability 6 out of 10
(10 is easiest to repair)

15 Comments

Great ! I was waiting for this since the day it was shown at the launch ! First to comment as well I guess

Yolo - Reply

is the rear housing the same as the series 2 as well?

during the announcement, they claimed the watch was made a little thicker.

karl - Reply

What’s the purpose of the air vent that began with Series 2? It’s clearly not for barometric readings since Series 2 lacked a barometric altimeter.

Andrew Estock - Reply

Not sure of I didn't See a barometer at the Apple Watch

eisblock -

does apple tv 4k teardown coming soon? i am curious about power supply voltage and ampere. nice btw.

Muhammad Faisal Kemal - Reply

wait, which chip is the LTE chip? Rumor was that it would be Intel…..

bdan629 - Reply

If there is no Intel Baseband chip, then all this point to Apple will be making their own Wireless Chip! About time!

K Sec - Reply

What that SIM-tray lookalike beside model no. which appears in step 3?

Abdurrahman Al Sheyyab - Reply

I think you’re referring to the “Top Secret” 6 pin diagnostic port (under the cover) that’s been there since the series 0. For Apple Use Only!

Nikon1 -

Does the 38mm GPS only and the 38mm GPS+LTE share the same battery? Or is there a difference between the two 38mm Series 3 models?

Bort - Reply

Can a series 2 be used with a iPhone 8 plus or X

Scott Green - Reply

Could you show the detail of “Screen as LTE antenna” that introduced during the Apple Event on 12 Sept.?

Show Siong LIM - Reply

Wow that taptic engine is taking up at least 30% of space.

dennisonphillips - Reply

Is the battery capacity the same in the larger 42mm version?

BilMcKelvy - Reply

looks like the “Screen antenna” is really on the force touch sensor? (step 8)

that would make sense, it goes all around the border of the screen.

karl - Reply

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