iPad 2 and iPhone 5: What's Coming?

Uber-geek Kyle Wiens of iFixit has an insider's view on what's next for the iPhone and iPad. He predicts more RAM and maybe a multi-core chip, but not higher resolution. Are we maxing out on battery life?

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Wed, February 02, 2011

CIO — Kyle Wiens and his team at iFixit, a Web site that provides free repair manuals and advice forums, are some of the smartest Apple (AAPL) geeks around. They've taken apart countless iPhones, Macs and iPads to see what makes them tick—and, of course, to find out how to repair them.

A few weeks ago, iFixit first reported Apple's screwy behavior to put tamper-resistant "Pentalobular" screws into its products that stymie do-it-yourselfers from making repairs. Then iFixit manufactured a tiny screwdriver that works on the Pentalobular screw's five-point flowery design.

Just how obsessed are these guys? Wiens flew to London to get his hands on the first iPhone 3GS before it debuted in the United States, and to Japan for the iPhone 4. Wiens was also a featured speaker at Macworld 2011 in San Francisco last week.

CIO.com sat down with Wiens at Macworld 2011 to get his impressions of the components that Apple puts into its products, as well as the strategy behind the components. He also gave his predictions of what might be inside the upcoming iPad 2 and iPhone 5.

Did Apple's switch to tamper-resistant Pentalobular screws surprise you?

Wiens: It surprised me that they were swamping out [standard Phillip screws] in their stores. I can see them switching production for new products, but to retroactively switch something they did in the past is a little disturbing. It's like a locksmith changing the locks in your house so that only he can rekey the locks in the future.

Some manufacturers have tried this. Mercedes removed the dipsticks in their cars so that you couldn't change the oil. There was a huge furor, and they had to put them back. Nintendo has a proprietary connector called the Gamebit, but it's become popular enough that there's a lot available today.

You've built a Pentalobular screw driver, mainly for hacking out the screw and replacing it with a Phillip screw. Tell me about making this screw driver.

Wiens: The quality of the screw driver is better than how we've been describing it. You can use it for multiple uses. It's not exactly the same shape as Apple's [Pentalobular] screw driver, because we were concerned there might be patents. We haven't found any patents yet.

Our screw driver is basically a five-point star. We've got a professional-grade version of the tool. Manufacturing this was really a challenge. It's so tiny. The screw driver is 0.7 millimeters across. You can't even really see it [with the naked eye].

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