First iPad Mini teardown reveals few surprises

iFixit gives Apple's smaller tablet a low '2' repairability score, says it's 'extremely difficult' for DIYers

The first teardown of an iPad Mini showed few surprises, but the team that took apart Apple's new smaller tablet said it was "extremely difficult" for do-it-yourselfers to repair.

iFixit.com, which regularly rips apart devices sold by Apple and other electronics makers, published its initial teardown guide for the iPad Mini today.

"This product continues Apple's design pattern of creating devices with built-in consumables that are challenging to replace," said iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens in an email Thursday.

Although the Mini hit pre-order on Oct. 26, it won't reach retail until Friday, when previously-ordered tablets are also to be delivered to customers.

iFixit, however, got its hands on an early delivery to a California developer who let the site take his apart.

"The iPad Mini continues Apple's repair-impeding practice of keeping iPads together with copious amounts of adhesive," the iFixit guide stated.

Wiens chimed in. "The screen is glued to the case. The battery is glued down. The logic board is really glued down. The headphone jack is glued in. The only good news is that the LCD is not fused to the front glass," he said.

When iFixit tore down Apple's 15-in. MacBook Pro with a Retina screen in June, Wiens called it "the least-repairable laptop we've taken apart," and gave it a "1," the lowest-possible score in his site's repairability ratings, largely because of the amount of adhesive used to hold down components, particularly the battery.

Today, the iPad Mini did little better, garnering a "2" out of 10, and collecting the comment "repair [is] extremely difficult" from iFixit.

In comparison, two tablet rivals, Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire HD, each earned a "7" on repairability from the site.

There weren't many surprises post-teardown, but Wiens pointed out a few.

Contrary to Amazon's assertion earlier this week on its website that its Kindle Fire HD sported stereo speakers while the iPad Mini does not, iFixit did indeed locate two speakers on Apple's tablet. (Amazon has since removed the comparison chart from its home page.)

iFixit also tentatively identified the display module in its unit as from Samsung, which according to an analyst from NPD DisplaySearch, is shutting down its display relationship with Apple, a move that will likely result in severe shortages. Instead, Apple has turned to LG Display (LGD) and a new source, AO Optronics (AOU) for its tablet screens.

Last week, however, Richard Shim of NPD DisplaySearch said that the Samsung-Apple relationship wasn't completely dead, and that the former was still supplying about 5% of all iPad display modules.

Wiens made a point of noting that the iPad Mini uses a separate pane of glass overtop the LCD display, unlike other Apple devices such as the Retina-equipped MacBook Pros and the upcoming refreshed iMacs, which sport glass fused to the screen, a tactic used to reduce the device's thickness.

Wiens speculated that Apple may have foresworn fusing in the Mini to reduce repair costs of shattered screens, what with the expectation that many will be used by children and that schools may view them as more attractive than full-sized iPads because of the lower price.

But he criticized Apple, not for the first time, for the difficulty of removing the iPad Mini's battery and the relatively high price of a replacement battery.

The iPad Mini apart and on display; the battery is at the bottom center. (Image: iFixit.)

"Relative to the $329 price, Apple's $99 battery replacement program is very expensive," said Wiens. "Without regular battery replacements, the iPad Mini is doomed to the same 2- to 3-year maximum lifespan that the iPad has."

Apple charges $99 for all iPad battery replacements, with an additional $6.95 tacked on for shipping if the device is not brought to an Apple retail store or authorized service provider.

The iPad Mini is a 7.9-in. tablet that starts at $329. It is currently backordered two weeks for all Wi-Fi models; the more expensive configurations able to connect to the Internet through a mobile carrier aren't expected to ship until the middle of this month.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Read more about tablets in Computerworld's Tablets Topic Center.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags AppleiFixithardware systemsMacintoshtablets

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?