iPad 4 Teardown

We got our hands on the fourth generation iPad. The way we figure, the iPad 4 is kind of like a fourth book added to a trilogy: its release was a bit sudden and unexpected, but it’s part of the group nonetheless. This fourth iteration of the iPad shares a lot of similarities with the previous version, so instead of our traditional, exploratory teardown, we focused our efforts on spotting the differences between this generation and the last.

If you’re kicking yourself because you just bought an iPad 3, weve got some welcome news: not too much has changed in the iPad 4. The most striking addition to the fourth generation is the Lightning connector. The iPad 4 also features a slightly thicker, upgraded 1.2 MP Facetime camera, and the upgraded A6X processor. Other than those differences, the iPad 4 remains the same in terms of design and repairability, earning a 2/10 on our repairability scale — the same score as the iPad 3.

iPad 4 teardown

* One of the major differences between the 3rd and 4th generation iPads is the connector. The 3rd gen has the 30-pin dock connector, while the 4th gen has the Lightning connector. But Apple didn’t save any space by switching to the smaller Lightning connector; rather they let the Lightning cable sit in a frame the same size as the 30-pin dock connector (the iPad 3 is on the top).

* Continuing the trend of previous generations, this iPad is glued shut. This isn’t our first adhesive-riddled iPad, and we’ve been working to figure out how to make the painful opening process a lot easier. Our new iOpener tool lets us apply heat just where it’s needed, softening the troublesome adhesive. Once we’ve snuck a few guitar picks in the seam, we’re nearly home-free.

* As opposed to the Samsung display we found in the iPad 3, the new iPad LCD is manufactured by LG. Apple has reportedly been working to move away from Samsung as a primary supplier, so this LG display is not surprising. However, Apple often relies on multiple suppliers for a single component, meaning there are likely other LCD manufacturers lurking inside other iPad 4s.

* The battery is labeled with the same model number (A1389) as in the last round, so it’s no surprise that it’s another 3.7 V, 43 Whr package. Like the iPad 3, the battery is adhered very securely to the rear case. Since batteries are consumables that wear out, the trend of glued-in, hard-to-access batteries in iPads and other Apple devices is unfortunate.

* Chips inside include:

  • Apple A6X Processor
  • Hynix H2JTDG8UD2MBR 16 GB NAND Flash
  • 2 x 4Gb Elpida LP DDR2 = 1 GB DRAM in two packages
  • Apple 338S1116 Cirrus Logic Audio Codec
  • 343S0622-A1 Dialog Semi PMIC
  • Apple 338S1077 Cirrus Logic Class D Amplifier
  • Broadcom BCM5974 Touch Screen Controller
  • Broadcom BCM5973A1 Touch Screen Controller
  • Texas Instruments CD3240B0 Touch Screen Line Driver
  • 2 x Fairchild BCHAH/FDMC Voltage Regulator / Reference
  • Murata 339S0171 Broadcom BCM4334 WiFi Module

* Repair techs, DIY-ers, and clumsy iPad-users, rejoice! The Lightning connector is on its very own ribbon cable, meaning that procuring a replacement connector should be fairly inexpensive.

* We found a 1.2MP Facetime HD camera lurking inside, with the ability to shoot 720p HD video. That’s a big improvement from the .3MP Facetime camera in the iPad 3. Compared to the iPad 3, this camera is actually slightly thicker (an extra .4 mm), but it still manages to fit into the same space.

For a more in-depth exploration, check out the full teardown.