by Tom Kaneshige

First Look: Inside the iPhone 4

Jun 23, 2010
MobileSmall and Medium Business

iFixIt engineers took a peek inside an iPhone 4 and found that storage capacity comes up short.

The iPhone 4 doesn’t hit the streets in the United States until Thursday, but that doesn’t mean it’s not Thursday somewhere. Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, a website that provides free repair manuals and advice forums mostly aimed at Apple products, claims he was set to fly to Japan to take advantage of a 16-hour time difference and secure an early release of an iPhone 4.

But Wiens didn’t have to go to Japan after all. An engineer at a Silicon Valley startup legally got a hold of an iPhone 4—no, we’re not talking about the guy that sold a stolen prototype to Gizmodo—from a FedEx shipment a couple of days earlier and provided it to iFixIt.

The first thing the engineers at iFixIt did was take it apart, taking pictures of the process.

At first glance, iFixIt noticed the dramatic departure from aluminum and plastic of previous iPhone designs. The iPhone 4 has two glass panes and stainless steel bezels around the perimeter. “Only time will tell if they absorb shock as poorly as the iPhone 3GS,” says iFixIt, in a write-up.

[ Potential breakage is one of three big cons beneath the iPhone 4’s sleek design, reports ]

One of iFixIt’s most critical findings is that an iPhone 4 32GB has an actual capacity of 29.06GB. Even worse, 301 MB is being used for unknown data, which means the user has only 28.77GB of free space.

Another drawback concerns the battery. The big 3.7V 1420 mAh Li-Polymer isn’t soldered to the logic board like the iPhone 2G, thus making it more easily replaceable for do-it-yourselfers that frequent iFixIt’s website. But Apple has slapped a warning on the plastic pull tab for the battery: “authorized service provider only.”

On the upside, the iPhone’s A4 processor has 512MB RAM unlike the iPad’s A4 processor with 256MB, according to iFixIt. “This decision may have been fairly late in Apple’s development cycle, because early leaked prototype phones only had 256MB,” Wiens wrote in an email.

Overall, the iPhone 4 boasted a very compact design. “It’s pretty apparent that real estate was very limited,” iFixIt says.

Tom Kaneshige covers Apple and Networking for Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Tom at