iPhone 3GS Teardown

June 19, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — luke

We just flew Kyle, our CEO, to London so he could take apart the iPhone 3GS. The results are in, and here’s what we found:

  • Thankfully, opening the iPhone 3GS is as simple as the 3G. After removing two Phillips screws, the two halves of the phone are separated easily using a suction cup.
  • The iPhone is differentiated externally only by a new model number, A1303. The lettering on the back is now shiny, like the Apple logo.
  • The internal physical design is virtually identical to the iPhone 3G. A random passerby on the street would not know the difference. Heck, even we were struggling to differentiate the two.
  • The new graphics core should drastically improve performance, meaning Apple’s serious about the handheld gaming market.
  • There’s still a “Do not remove” sticker above the logic board. Naturally, we removed it.
  • Nearly all components have been relocated to the front side of the main PCB, including the Bluetooth, Wi–Fi, and Flash memory chips.
  • The battery is 4.51 Watt-hours, or 1219 mAh. That’s about 6% larger than the iPhone 3G’s battery. Hopefully the hardware runs more efficiently, since increased battery life will not come from the battery itself.
  • There is an additional antenna connection near the dock connector. We’re not sure what for just yet. However, we do love exploring these teasers… Stay tuned!
  • For those who are wondering about the fingerprint-resistant coating on their iPhone 3GS screen: The oleophobic, or oil-proof, technology evolved from waterproofing. Oil-proof technology is harder to achieve as oil has a much lower surface tension than water, so it spreads out easier and thus is harder to get rid off. MIT’s solution was to create a coating material which creates a layer of micro fibers, but with a much larger contact angle between the oil droplets and the fibers.

Some comments on usability of the 3GS:

  • Camera quality is much improved from the 3G. Close-up shots were possible down to about 5 cm, and the brightness adjusted well when picking a focus area.
  • The oleophobic screen does seem to clean slightly easier than the 3G’s normal screen.
  • Google Earth (duration of the spinning load wheel) (over Wi-Fi): 3GS: 4.9 sec; 3G: 22.2 sec. A bit faster than Apple’s claim of 2X speed improvement — although we know that one simple test of one application means little in the real world.

We’ll post more notes on the hardware as we analyze it further.

iPhone 3G S Parts

iPhone 3G S Parts


  1. Pretty nice post. I just found your site and wanted to say
    that I have really enjoyed reading your posts. In any case
    I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

    Comment by April — June 23, 2009 @ 5:15 pm

  2. […] mentioned in our iPhone 3GS post that Kyle went all the way to London to obtain the new iPhone. He was, in fact, doing the teardown […]

    Pingback by Kyle’s Interview in Macworld UK « iFixit Blog — June 29, 2009 @ 3:04 pm

  3. The extra connector #7, in the lower-right corner that obstructs the DO NOT REMOVE sticker, is for cellular connection.

    Comment by fluffyx — August 23, 2009 @ 7:05 am

  4. Is the iphone 4 jailbreak and unlock solution out yet? iphone dev only has upto unlock iphone 3.1.3 3gs or os 4 beta on 3gs

    Comment by Unlock iPhone 3.1.3 — June 25, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

  5. I noticed that you do a great job with TAKING THINGS APART. However, do you ever bother to show HOW to put it back together.

    Sure, most things are straightforward, but the 3GS iPhone has some issues that your site glosses over-as does every site out there. Namely, the issue regarding working sensors AFTER replacement of the top cover.

    Is this an Apple safeguard so that everyone does not pop open the iphone? Or, is everyone who is opening up the iphone doing it wrong?

    Comment by Steve — December 30, 2010 @ 5:03 am


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