iPad 2 GSM & CDMA Teardown

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

Apple decided to offer the iPad 2 in a number of flavors that would make Baskin Robbins proud: two colors, three drive capacity sizes, and three connectivity choices (Wi-Fi only, 3G GSM on AT&T, and 3G CDMA on Verizon). All in all, that’s 18 different versions of essentially the same device.

Our original iPad 2 teardown featured the black, 16GB, Wi-Fi only version. There’s absolutely no reason why we’d take apart 17 other iPads, but we felt it worthwhile to at least document the differences between the Wi-Fi only, GSM, and CDMA versions. Enter the iPad 2 GSM & CDMA teardown, which compares the three major versions of the new iPads!

Apple still managed to infuse something different for each iPad 2 flavor. The logic boards are probably the best example: both the CDMA and GSM variants had WWAN boards — which of course contained completely different chips — attached to the logic boards, while the Wi-Fi version had empty space. But the empty space was magical, per Apple rules, although startlingly devoid of anything.

Logic board comparison. From top: Wi-Fi, GSM, and CDMA models.

Logic board comparison. From top: Wi-Fi, GSM, and CDMA models.

But not all differences were restricted to the logic boards. There GSM, CDMA, and Wi-Fi units also had different numbers of antennas that handle the WWAN reception for each model. Notice that the CDMA version has one additional antenna connector when compared to the GSM version:

Back cover comparison. From top: GSM, CDMA, and Wi-Fi.

Back cover comparison. From top: GSM, CDMA, and Wi-Fi.

For more iPad on iPad on iPad goodness, you’ll have to take a look at the iPad 2 GSM & CDMA teardown!

Nintendo 3DS has 128MB RAM

March 28, 2011 Hardware, Site News — Miro

Our friends at Chipworks have decapsulated and analyzed the mysterious Fujitsu MB82M8080-07L chip we found in the Nintendo 3DS. It turns out that “MB82M8080” is actually code for “MB82DBS08645” (of course!), which is the actual part number for the memory dies inside the chip. From that information, Chipworks deduced that they have a 512Mb FCRAM die on their hands. As there were two dies inside the chip, 2 dies x 512Megabits = 128 MB of RAM!

Photo of one MB82DBS08645 512Mb decapsulated die. There's two inside, but they're identical.

Photo of one MB82DBS08645 512Mb decapsulated die. There's two of these inside the Fujitsu memory chip.

Fujitsu claims that their Fast Cycle RAM has a data rate of 3.2 GB/sec, which is approximately double the capability of DDR2 RAM, according to their chart. That’s certainly an impressive statistic, but we’ll have to see if the relatively-low memory amount hampers the 3DS’ performance over time.

X-Ray of the MB82DBS08645 512Mb die

X-Ray of the MB82DBS08645 512Mb die

Introducing: Ask MJ

March 21, 2011 Site News, Video — Melissa

In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve delved into the wonderful world of online video in a big way. Our primary focus has been producing high-quality repair videos as a supplement to our existing repair guides. We know that sometimes it’s helpful to see someone perform a specific step in a repair (using a suction cup to lift the display off of an iPhone 3GS for example), and our repair videos are designed for just that. If you haven’t caught one yet, might we suggest you start with our iPhone 4 Display Assembly video? And of course, we’re also filming select product teardowns. If you’ve got three-and-a-half minutes, check out our iPad 2 teardown video and tell us what you think.

iFixit.com is made more and more valuable by contributions from you, the community, and we expect that our foray into video can be improved the same way. (Aside: Congratulations to you, the iFixit community for winning “Best Community Website” at SXSW 2011!) So, to up the ante a bit, we’re launching a new video segment based entirely on your questions; the segment is called “Ask MJ,” as it will be curated by yours truly. Some questions that might pique your interest:

  1. Which repairs do you want to see performed? Is there a specific step in a repair that you’d benefit from seeing on video?
  2. Have you “repaired” something, but for some reason it still doesn’t work?
  3. What questions do you have about self-repair or iFixit in general?

Email your questions and repair requests to askmj-at-ifixit.com, and if we shoot a video in response to your question/request, I’ll send you some shwag. (Because who doesn’t love free stuff?)

The segment will be ongoing, and the frequency will depend entirely upon the number of requests we receive. To stay up to date with all of the latest teardowns, repair videos and future episodes of Ask MJ, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

I look forward to your questions and requests!

People for the Ethical Treatment of iPads

March 21, 2011 Hardware — Kyle Wiens

iPad 2’s Headphone Jack

March 15, 2011 Hardware, Site News — Miro

Update: Apple has a patent application, not an actual patent, for the pogo-pin headphone jack design. Also, the graphic referenced in our post is just one representation of the patent, but others exist within the patent application. It looks like the iPad 2’s headphone jack meets the criteria outlined by other representations, and is in fact the patent-pending headphone jack.

There’s been some talk on the intertubes about Apple’s inclusion of a new type of headphone jack in the iPad 2, as shown in Apple’s patent here:

Patent image courtesy of Apple

Given that we already took apart an iPad 2 in the name of science, we felt it was our civic duty to also investigate the headphone jack. Some have speculated that the iPad 2’s pogo-pin headphone jack might make it waterproof. While we haven’t dipped our iPad 2 into any liquid, we’re pretty confident in saying that the jack is not waterproof.

We had seen the “pogo pins” in older Apple devices, and we just happened to have a disassembled 3rd Gen iPod Shuffle to verify. The Shuffle’s jack had the same “pogo pins” inside it, but it was approximately half the size of the iPad 2’s jack. The size disparity makes sense, since the minuscule Shuffle is much more space-constrained than the iPad 2.

On the left: iPad 2 headphone jack; on the right: iPod Shuffle 3rd Gen headphone jack

The 3rd Gen Shuffle headphone jack was also significantly thinner (and consequently, flimsier) than that of the iPad 2: 3.95 mm vs. 4.57 mm. Notice how the perimeter thicknesses of the jacks are visibly different:

Thickness comparison between the iPad 2 and the 3rd Gen Shuffle headphone jacks. iPad 2 jack is on the bottom.

But something didn’t make sense. If the “pogo pins” were supposed to save space by being aligned next to one another, why did the iPad 2 have the ground pin on the opposite side?  To find out the answer, we began some aggressive sanding action. A good amount of time later, we could see all the dirty secrets that lurked within the iPad 2’s jack.

The jack contained three “pogo pins” — the offset ground pin, and two pins for stereo sound output — as well as a standard switch contact for the headphone plug tip (instead of two more pogo pins as described by the patent). But the “pogo pins” were in fact versions of a standard switch contact, not the pogo pins described by the patent picture:

A look inside the iPad 2's headphone jack. Notice that the small pogo pins from the patent picture are missing.

You can get a better idea of how the pogo pins work by looking at the back of the headphone jack. The iPad 2’s jack design, although possibly water-resistant, could not be waterproof. And Apple’s definitely not using the new headphone jack design described in the patent picture.

The back of the iPad 2's headphone jack.

Note that even though the pogo pins in the patent picture are supposed to reduce jack thickness, that’s not really feasible. Just look at the 3rd Gen Shuffle’s headphone jack thickness (3.95 mm)! The thickness is limited by the 3.5 mm headphone plug, not the connection points within the headphone jack. The solution for this problem is to switch to 2.5mm TRS connectors to minimize thickness, but we sincerely hope Apple does not venture down this path. Otherwise they’d force everyone with old iPod/iPhone/aftermarket headphones to purchase a converter to use with their headphones, making the user’s audio setup that much more bulky.

iPad 2’s Smart Cover Teardown

March 14, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

We never took apart a case before, but the Smart Cover piqued our interest as soon as Steve Jobs announced it alongside the iPad 2. We knew it worked with magnets, but exactly how? What did it attach to? How can something so simple be so multi-functional? A Smart Cover went under the knife (literally) to provide the answers to these questions.

We were also curious to see if Apple used magnets with special properties — such as the awesome correlated magnets developed by Correlated Magnetics Research — for the Smart Cover. Correlated magnets have multiple poles that could be contributing to the unique functionality of the cover.

The Smart Cover received a 0 out of 10 Repairability Score. Apple had the audacity to bring a product to market that was absolutely unrepairable. Imagine our surprise when we cut up the entire thing, only to have it be totally destroyed! (We joke, of course.)

Teardown highlights:

  • There are a total of THIRTY ONE magnets within the iPad 2 and Smart Cover: 10 magnets in the iPad 2, and a whopping 21 magnets inside the Smart Cover. They’re the reason why the cover works so well with the iPad 2.
  • We used magnetic viewing film to reveal the magnets before taking our stuff apart. The film has special properties that allow it to react to a magnet’s poles, and it worked wonders in showing the magnets hidden beneath the Smart Cover and iPad 2.
  • Sadly, none of the 31 magnets inside the devices had any special properties. All of them were the standard, two-pole kind, but they were arrayed in such a way that made clamping the Smart Cover to the iPad 2 quite easy.
  • The Smart Cover has one dedicated magnet that turns off the iPad 2’s screen. The rest are used to either clamp to the iPad on the right side (the far-right column of magnets), or to form the triangular shape used to create a stand for the iPad 2.
  • A steel plate on the far-left side of the Smart Cover attaches to 15 of the cover’s magnets (on the far-right) in order to form the triangular base.
  • The far-right row of magnets clamps the Smart Cover to the iPad 2. The magnets in the iPad 2 had their polarity displayed: + – + – . The alternating polarity of the magnets in the iPad 2 was complemented by the opposite alternating polarity of the magnets in the Smart Cover (- + – +), ensuring that the Smart Cover always sits in the same orientation on the iPad 2.
  • There’s also a row of magnets on the left side of both products. The iPad 2’s magnets are actually encased into the side of the device, and are used to securely clamp the iPad 2 to the Smart Cover’s frame. Interestingly, these magnets’ polarities were manually marked — a blue dash written with a marker — instead of having a machine stamp/engrave the polarity into them.
  • It turns out that the Smart Cover doesn’t work nearly as well once you remove the magnets, steel plate, and plastic structural supports. Go figure!
iPad 2's sleep sensor and magnets

iPad 2's sleep sensor and magnets

Final layout

Final layout

iPad 2 Teardown

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

Prior to starting the teardown, we guessed that the glass front panel was no longer held in place by tabs. We were correct. The new tapered edge on the iPad 2 prevents any kind of tabs from being used; instead, Apple engineers used generous helpings of adhesive to keep the front glass in place.

Consequently, the front panel is very difficult to remove — it’s nearly impossible to open the iPad 2 without shattering the glass. We’ll be working hard in the forthcoming weeks to provide a solution to this problem, but for now: please don’t open your iPad 2.

The iPad 2 received a 4 out of 10 repairability score, mainly for the extreme difficulty of accessing anything inside. But if you do manage to get in, you’ll find that all screws are of the Phillips variety, and the LCD can be easily taken out once you separate it from the front panel glass (but separating it from the glass is difficult, of course).

Teardown Highlights:

  • We did a quick glass and LCD thickness comparison:
    • iPad 1: lcd = 3.2 mm glass = .85 mm
    • iPad 2: lcd = 2.4 mm glass = .62 mm
  • The thickness of these components — especially that of the glass — could drastically reduce the durability of the device, especially the glass’ resistance to shattering. We’ll see in due time if the percentage of folks with broken iPad 2 front glass is dramatically different than that of the original iPad.
  • Lifting off the LCD exposes the iPad 2’s battery. We found a 3.8V, 25 watt-hour unit. That’s just a hair more than the original iPad’s 24.8 watt-hours, so any improved battery performance should be attributed to software and other hardware improvements.
  • We confirmed via software that the iPad 2 indeed has 512 MB of RAM.
  • The markings on the 1 GHz Apple A5 dual-core processor appear to be Samsung’s, but Chipworks will investigate in the forthcoming days to find out for sure.
  • Other components that power the iPad 2:
    • Toshiba TH58NVG7D2FLA89 16GB NAND Flash
    • Broadcom BCM5973KFBGH Microcontroller
    • Broadcom BCM5974 CKFBGH capacitative touchscreen controller
    • Texas Instruments CD3240B0 11AZ4JT touchscreen line driver
    • Broadcom BCM43291HKUBC Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/FM tuner combo chip
    • S6T2MLC N33C50V Power Management IC
    • ST Micro AGD8 2103 gyroscope
    • ST Micro LIS331DLH accelerometer
  • There’s also an Apple-branded 338S0940 A0BZ1101 SGP chip. This looks like the Cirrus audio codec Chipworks found in the Verizon iPhone, but they’ll have to get it off the board to make sure!

iPad 2 Teardown In Progress

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

We’re in the midst of our iPad 2 teardown, and we just got a chance to peek at the innards. Here’s what the inside of the iPad 2 looks like:

We’ll be blogging our findings as soon as the iPad  2 is completely torn apart. But for the time being, you can watch our progress — just refresh the page every once in a while to see all the newest findings.

Nintendo 3DS Teardown

March 3, 2011 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

Hot off a plane from Japan comes no other than our very own Nintendo 3DS unit. We wanted to give our 3D friend a thorough shakedown — it seemed fitting, given that its older brethren graced our teardown pages in the past. Exactly how much did that 3D screen change things internally, we wondered… And then we snapped out of it, got a Phillips #00 screwdriver, and wondered no more.

The Nintendo 3DS received a 5 out of 10 repairability score, mainly for the extreme difficulty in accessing the top half of the unit. Everything was coming apart just hunky dory: we removed all the Phillips screws and easily disconnected all the components on the bottom half. But then we tried to access and remove the top display, and the disassembly went awry from there.

To continue the disassembly, we had to separate the hinges and do a bunch of cringe-inducing threading of ribbon cables through the 3DS’ hollow hinges. Even with our super-careful hands, we still managed to break a couple of the ribbon cables. We decided that threading the upper display and camera cables through the tiny hinge tube is something that Nintendo undoubtedly accomplishes with robotic machinery, and should not be attempted by human souls unless they’re willing to potentially destroy their device.

Teardown highlights:

  • The 3DS’ top display produces 3D images through the use of parallax. A layer in the top LCD responds to adjustments in the 3D slider and changes the image slightly between each of the viewer’s eyes. When it is viewed from the recommended distance, the image appears to be 3D.
  • Nintendo is no stranger to 3D gaming, considering its past experience with the ridiculously cool and underrated Virtual Boy. That device used slightly different means to achieve a similar 3D effect.
  • The 3D view *should* work for most people, but one iFixit employee (out of about 10 that tried it) had trouble viewing it. To him the screen looked different, but not 3D.
  • Unlike previous DS consoles, the entire back cover of the 3DS comes off as one piece rather than having a small door to access the battery. This makes for a cleaner look, but also means that replacing the battery will take a little longer.
  • The 3.7V, 1300mAh, 5Wh Li-Ion battery provides a measly 3-5 hours of battery life. Even when playing original DS games, the 3DS lasts only 5-8 hours on a single charge. The battery life is most likely diminished by the reported faster processor, dual LCD elements in the top display (to control the parallax effect), and more hardware intensive programs.
  • With the short battery life in mind, Nintendo ships the 3DS with a charging cradle for convenient charging. According to them, a full charge takes 3.5 hours.
  • We found an interesting little feature of the 3DS by accident while blowing away some dust with canned air: external mics on the 3DS pick up the characteristic noise of wind blowing by the device and spin the live icons in the background of each menu as if they were in a tornado.
  • Nobody is really certain what the infrared port on the 3DS will do just yet, but we’re thinking it’s for some 3DS to 3DS line-of-sight communication. The IR controller IC is manufactured by NXP and has the markings: S750 0803 TSD031C
  • The digitizer on the bottom display is much thicker than those found on most cellphones, most likely due to the fact that the touch display is used with a stylus, rather than a fingertip.
  • Whereas older versions of the DS had four rubber screw covers on the front display bezel, Nintendo opted for a sleeker approach for their new system by adhering a front panel to the bezel to hide the screws.
  • We had to call forth the use of a heat gun and a plastic opening tool in order to gain access to the upper display screws.
  • All three cameras are connected together via one ribbon cable. We’re finding this to be a trend amongst the smaller multiple-camera devices, and it makes sense — the info needs to go to the same place to be processed.
  • It’s official — this is the most camera-laden device we’ve ever taken apart.
Final layout

Final layout