iPad 2 Teardown: Q&A With iFixit on What's Inside, What's Next

What did uber-geek Kyle Wiens of iFixit find when he pried off the iPad 2's glass? "We've never seen so much glue inside of something before." Wiens shares insights and predictions with CIO.com.

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Tue, March 15, 2011

CIO — Kyle Wiens of iFixit, a Web site that provides free repair manuals and advice forums, tore apart an iPad 2 just to see what makes it tick. Of course, his team has been among the first non-Apple (AAPL) engineers to peek inside Macs, iPhones, iPods and now iPads.

They are a pretty savvy group. iFixit first reported Apple's screwy behavior to put tamper-resistant "Pentalobular" screws into its products that stymie do-it-yourselfers from making repairs. Wiens was a featured speaker at this year's Macworld 2011 in San Francisco. He predicted the iPad 2 will have more RAM (512MB, to be exact) and a multi-core chip but not higher resolution, all of which came true.

iFixit began its teardown of the iPad 2 on Friday, and found that the front glass panel was glued in place. The original iPad's glass panel was held by tabs that allowed the glass to be easily removed. "It's nearly impossible to open the iPad 2 without shattering the glass," says Miroslav Djuric, director of technical communication at iFixit.

iFixit technicians applied a lot of force to remove the glass in order to examine the iPad 2's contents. Among the components were a similar-sized battery to that of the original iPad, a 1GHz Apple A5 dual-core processor appearing to have come from Samsung, and a Toshiba NAND Flash memory chip. More importantly, iFixit was able to confirm that the iPad 2 has 512MB of RAM.

CIO.com talked with Wiens about what he learned during his iPad 2 teardown:

You must have been shocked when trying to pry off the iPad 2 glass.

Wiens: We've never seen so much glue inside of something before. As a repair company, we're disheartened. It's a concern when, say, replacing a battery. The iPad 2 battery is going to wear out in 500 uses. (For more on this, see How to Know if Your iPhone Battery is on Death Row.)

But repairability isn't a concern (for Apple), and so designers aren't going to design that in. When you're designing a device like this, there are a thousand tradeoffs.

We're going to have to be better at our jobs. We're already looking at replacement adhesives, a heat gun to remove the glue. Remember, the original iPhone might have been harder to work on than the iPad 2, but we still had hundreds of thousands of people that did it.

What surprised you most about the iPad 2?

Wiens: The magnets are certainly innovative. It's the oldest technology in the world, which Apple has applied in a very interesting way. I was not expecting 31 magnets. (Apple's new Smart Cover has 21 embedded magnets and the iPad 2 has 10 magnets, which are used to protect the iPad 2 glass as well as create a stand.)

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