iPod touch 3rd Gen: Where’s the camera?

September 11, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — luke

Another day, another teardown. Today we took apart the new 3rd Generation iPod touch!

Getting inside

Getting inside

Our analysis reveals a Broadcom BCM4329 chip, which supports 802.11n. This is a big deal, as even the iPhone 3GS doesn’t support 802.11n. The iPhone 3GS has a BCM4325 wireless chip, which only supports 802.11 a/b/g. We don’t know yet if 802.11n will be supported in software, but at least the hardware’s there.

This reminds us of last year when we broke the news that the 2nd Generation touch had Bluetooth support in hardware. Apple didn’t enable software support until 9 months later with iPhone OS 3.0.

The Broadcom chip also supports FM transmission. There’s Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and a FM receiver and transmitter packed into this chip. If they built in the antennas, and if Apple adds software support, you could theoretically stream music to your car stereo without any external hardware. But that’s a lot of ifs.

New Broadcom BCM4329 chip

New Broadcom BCM4329 chip

We also analyzed the internal layout of the iPod, and it appears that Apple left room for a camera in the top of the device. There is a 6mm x 6mm x 3mm space between the Broadcom chip and the wireless antenna. There isn’t enough depth for an iPhone-style autofocus still camera, but just enough room for the camera that Apple used in the 5th Generation iPod nano. We did not find any headers on the board for a camera cable.

Space for a camera?

Space for a camera?

Video Camera Unveiled: iPod nano Teardown

September 10, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Kyle Wiens

We took apart the new 5th Generation iPod nano! We have finished our hardware analysis and high-resolution photos of the internals.

This iPod employs copious amounts of glue and adhesive to hold everything together. That makes it easy for Apple to put together, but hard to take apart. We had to remove the camera bezel before we could start the disassembly.

Complete parts disassembly

Complete parts disassembly

This iPod employs copious amounts of glue and adhesive to hold everything together. That makes it easy for Apple to put together, but hard to take apart. We had to remove the camera bezel before we could start the disassembly.
As expected, the main ARM processor dwarfs everything else on the board.
Toshiba is the source for the 8 GB of flash memory. Our memory chips were made in Taiwan in July of this year.
There is no space for a larger camera in the 6.2 mm thick iPod without reducing the size of other components.
The speaker is very similar to the speaker in the iPod touch. The audio simply comes out the bottom of the iPod.
The new 240×376 display boasts 17.5% more screen real estate than the previous model.
The tolerances on this iPod are incredibly tight. There’s no wasted space inside.

Things we noticed:

  • As expected, the main ARM processor dwarfs everything else on the board.
  • Toshiba is the source for the 8 GB of flash memory. Our memory chips were made in Taiwan in July of this year.
  • There is no space for a larger camera in the 6.2 mm thick iPod without reducing the size of other components.
  • The speaker is very similar to the speaker in the iPod touch. The audio simply comes out the bottom of the iPod.
  • The new 240×376 display boasts 17.5% more screen real estate than the previous model.
  • The tolerances on this iPod are incredibly tight. There’s no wasted space inside.
The nanos little video camera

The nano's little video camera

Size comparison:

  • iPhone 3G: 12.3 mm thick
  • iPhone camera: 6 mm + rubber mount
  • iPod nano: 6.2 mm thick
  • iPod nano camera: 2.75 mm
  • iPod touch: 8.5 mm thick

Including the mount, the iPhone camera is thicker than the ENTIRE new iPod nano!

Unlike the nano, the iPod touch could conceivably support an iPhone-sized camera, although it would certainly be an engineering challenge.

We wish Apple would a little effort into making iPods repairable, instead of forcing people to throw them away when they break. Recent iPods have become increasingly difficult to successfully repair. (One positive note is that unlike the iPhone, we haven’t seen many issues with broken glass on the nanos.)

Our iPod nano teardown is here:

Sliding out the Nanos internals

Sliding out the nano's internals

Taking out the iPods click wheel

Taking out the iPod's click wheel

Camera surgery

Camera surgery

Retrieving a Stuck CD is as Easy as 1, 2, 3!

September 2, 2009 Hardware, Site News — walter

Hi there. Have you ever found yourself troubled by a nasty optical drive that just won’t let go of your favorite CD? Did you ever wish you could just tear that sucker apart and retrieve your long-lost companion? Worry no more, we here at iFixit have released a new jammed optical drives guide for such moments. All you need is a Phillips #0 screwdriver and a bit of patience to accomplish the task.

It’s a quick three-step guide that will surely help you rescue your precious CD from the treacherous grips of your optical drive. Our guide walks you through the most daunting procedures:

  • Removing the screws from the optical drive.
  • Lifting the top cover from the optical drive.
  • Obtaining inner peace by retrieving your CD.

Actually that pretty much covers the guide. Who knew happy and everlasting peace could be found in just three simple steps?

Take a look at our new guide and give us your comments, your opinions, your huddled thoughts yearning to breathe free. Do you know of any other methods to recover a CD from within an optical drive? We’re always looking to improve our guides!

PlayStation 3 Slim Teardown!

August 26, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

We have just taken apart the new PlayStation 3 Slim!

Sony clearly took cooling very seriously with this machine, which is quite easy to take apart but requires special security-bit Torx screwdrivers to dismantle.

We made a video of the result as well. Feel free to check it out on YouTube!

Highlights from the teardown:

* Sony stuck with a lot of the same chip manufacturers as the original PlayStation 3. We were expecting them to shift suppliers more, especially with commodity components like Apple has done.

* The upgraded 120 GB drive is a Toshiba-manufactured, 5400 RPM standard notebook SATA drive.

* The interior of the device is dominated by the fan, heatsink, and desktop computer-sized Blu-ray drive.

* The fan is an innovative design, with a massive 95mm diameter and whopping 17 blades!

* Sony used a Marvell Ethernet controller, Panasonic HDMI controller, and their own Sony-branded AV multi-out controller.

* The design aesthetic of this machine is a bit more bare-bones-functional than Apple’s, but is still beautiful in its own way.

* It’s evident that Sony’s chief design focus was effective heat dissipation. Sony used a large piece of custom molded plastic to route air from the fan over the heatsink. Time will tell how successful they were.

* This PS3 feels quite rugged. The plastic is stiff and high-quality, and the machine is very easy to service once you have the right Torx screwdriver.

Some pictures from the teardown:

Taking out the logic board

Taking out the logic board

The Cell processor

The Cell processor

Fixin’ iFixit

August 20, 2009 Events, Site News — Miro

After developing them in secret for the past two months, on Monday night we launched a redesigned main page and parts store. We investigated and optimized every detail of the customer experience, with the knowledge that users all over the world will be accessing our content.

We built our own cart a while ago, and it’s received great reviews from customers and the press. But, we’ve learned a lot about our customers’ needs since then, and we thought we could improve several areas. With this redesign we’ve implemented dozens of suggestions and made some of our own improvements. Our number one customer comment was how awkward the mouse-over category navigation was on the left side of the site. We nixed it in favor of an easier-to-use, model-oriented navigation structure (which also works on the iPhone!). As happy as we are about that, though, it’s only one of a bunch of changes that we’re excited about.

Here are a few of the new features we’ve implemented on the main page:

  • Global search. Searching for a term such as “iPod” will now bring up all matching products, repair manuals, and discussions. You can sort through a specific document type, or you can browse through our entire site at the same time!
  • Navigation hub. The main page now links to the Parts Store, Repair Manuals, Teardowns, and Discussion forums. You can navigate to any of these pages by clicking on the appropriate icon at the top of the site.
  • Streamlined checkout process. It’s a much cleaner and more intuitive process than before. Try it out!
  • Speed. We’ve made hundreds of improvements to our server architecture, improving page load times across the board. Browsing iFixit should be fast.

Here’s our new main page:

We also changed the parts store website completely. In an effort to help our customers find the right parts for their devices, we’ve moved to a model-number-based approach. Once we know your model number, we can guarantee that every part we show you will work in your device. But what if you don’t know your model number? We still have category navigation on the right, as well as a site-wide search that puts products, repair articles, discussions, and parts at your fingertips.

For all of the pictures below, the old version is depicted on the left, while the new version is on the right. You can certainly also visit iFixit to view the new changes. First, the main parts store:

The MacBook parts subsection of the store:

And the revised shipping page:

We spent a lot of time testing our new site across various browsers and platforms. However, there may be an occasional hiccup that we missed. Please let us know if you like it, hate it, or see any bugs!

Three New Guide Features!

July 21, 2009 Site News — Miro

We’re excited to announce three new features on iFixit!

Slideshow: You are now able to view our teardowns as a full screen slideshow. All you have to do is click the “View as slideshow” link in the introduction to view it as a slideshow. Any browser can be used to view the slideshow, but users with the Cooliris browser plugin can view the slideshow in full screen. This is a beta feature, so please let us know if you have any issues or feedback while using it.

Single Page View: This has been one of the most oft-requested features by our users, and it’s finally here! You can now view the entire guide or teardown in a single page, as opposed to having to click “Next >>” every three steps for guides, or every eight steps for teardowns. Please be aware that loading all guide/teardown steps may take a while, especially for instructions that have a large number (30+) of steps.

The “I did it!” Button: We put a button at the end of every guide that lets you tell people that you successfully completed a repair! Clicking the “I did it!” button will link that guide to your profile, making it easy to keep a count of all the repairs you’ve made over the years. Just click on this link (you must be logged in our site for the link to work) in order to view your profile. Alternatively, you can log in on our Repair page and then click on your username in the top right corner of the site to view your user profile.

We hope you enjoy our new additions to the site. We’re continuously working on making your experience better, and we welcome any comments or suggestions you have.

New Soldering Guide!

July 10, 2009 Hardware, Repair Guides, Site News — Miro

We’ve been working on an all-purpose soldering guide for our iFixit user base. Over time the electronics that have come through our doors have increasingly been devoid of connectors, instead using batteries and components that are soldered directly to the logic board. Newer generations of Apple products, such as the original iPhone and all generations of iPod nano and iPod touch, fall into this category.

This trend makes replacing the battery a much harder feat than other iPod and iPhone models, who use connectors to attach the battery to the logic board. The procedure requires a lot more of the user’s time, patience, and material cost (soldering iron, solder, etc.) to do a simple battery replacement.

We know that these products aren’t the only ones on the market that require soldering, and that soldering in general can vary depending on the size of the electronics (and type) being soldered. As a result, this guide is actually comprised of three mini guides. Each mini guide illustrates a different level of difficulty in soldering, and teaches that particular soldering technique:

  • Step 1: Beginning soldering. Focuses on large thru-hole components, such as cylindrical capacitors.
  • Step 7: Intermediate soldering — Focuses on small thru-hole components, such as battery leads and resistors.
  • Step 11: Advanced soldering — Focuses on small surface-mount components.

This guide will come in handy to anyone who’s curious about soldering. How do you do it? How difficult is it really? What tools do I need? All these questions can be answered by a click of a link.

Comments? Ideas? Let us know!

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

MacBook Pro 13″ Unibody Teardown

June 10, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

We just completed our teardown of the MacBook Pro 13″ Unibody. We found that there’s very little difference between it and its predecessor, the MacBook Unibody. Here are some interesting tidbits about the MacBook Pro 13″:

  • The SD card slot is rather unimaginative, and half the card hangs outside the computer. Apparently, Apple couldn’t free up enough space for a slot that would make the card completely captive.
  • Fortunately, Apple did free up space to include a single FireWire 800 port.
  • The battery is easily user-upgradeable. All you need is a small Phillips screwdriver to open the case, and a tri-wing screwdriver to remove the battery.
  • The battery is definitely heavier (360 grams compared to 302 g for the old one). However, its capacity is 60 Watt-hours, compared to the lighter battery’s 45 W-h.
  • Apple’s claim for battery life in now 7 hours, compared to the MacBook’s 5 hours.
  • The new battery is not interchangeable at all with the older MacBook Unibody. The connectors, size, and shape are different, preventing easy DIY battery rigging.
  • The mid wall dividing the MacBook Pro is now attached to the top case. In the previous model, it was held in by four Phillips screws — just goes to show what Apple is trying to help out its DIY customers.
  • Aside from a couple of visual cues found outside, a casual user would not be able to discern if this was a MacBook Unibody or MacBook Pro.
  • Most screw layouts and brackets are identical to the old MacBook Unibody.
  • Despite now being a “Pro,” the machine makes do with only a single audio jack. The jack supports both analog and digital audio-out, as well as analog audio-in. If you need digital audio-in, this is not the machine for you.

We also just released a full set of MacBook Unibody repair guides. The design is similar enough that the guides can also be used to repair a MacBook Pro 13″ Unibody.

If there are any details you’d like us to investigate, leave a comment in the teardown or hit us up on twitter: @ifixit

Palm Pre Parts Analysis

June 7, 2009 Hardware, Site News — luke
Palm Pre Main Board

Palm Pre Main Board

Our good friends at phoneWreck took our teardown of the Palm Pre and did a thorough analysis of what we found. We added their component diagram to the end of our teardown.

phoneWreck’s observations:

Palm Pre Component Diagram

Palm Pre Component Diagram

There are some pretty interesting things that popped up on the Pre’s PCBs. This is the first production device we’ve seen on the OMAP3 (Open Media Applications Processor) platform. OMAP3 is powered by the 600MHZ ARM Cortex A8, PowerVR SGX 530 (GPU), 430MHz C64x, DSP and ISP (Image Signal Processor) and was clearly designed to pack a punch – Dr. Wreck thinks we’re going to see this processor popping up in future netbook endeavours.

On the connections side we see the usual wifi/bluetooth combo going to Marvell and CSR with the W8686 and 63823 respectively. We also see the BaseBand win going to Qualcomm with the heavily integrated MSM6801A platform. The OMAP3 PMIC comes loaded with a USB tranceiver and Audio codec which even further reduces the overall board density of this device. We’re not fully sure – but it looks as if the Pre’s cool new multi-touch Touch Screen Controller win went to Cypress Semiconductor with the CP6944BA device.

For more more annotated images and analysis, visit phoneWreck. phoneWreck will continue to release more Palm Pre details over then next week as they research the Pre’s hardware design.

In other news, we’re happy to report we have some new teardowns up on our user-contributed teardown platform. We now have teardowns for both the Nintendo Wii and a banana.