iFixit iPad mini Teardown: Stereo Speakers, Samsung Chips

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Apple's brand new iPad mini doesn't hit store shelves until Friday, and yet iFixit has already managed to get ahold of one and strip it down to the frame. Inside they found stereo speakers, and video driver chips from Samsung.

iFixit strips down iPad mini before hit officially launchesiFixit strips down iPad mini before hit officially launches

The iPad mini was introduced during a media event in October, along with the fourth generation iPad, Retina Display 13.3-inch MacBook Pro, new iMacs, and new Mac minis. The iPad mini includes a 7.9-inch 1024x768 multitouch display, built-in WiFi and Bluetooth support, front and rear-facing digital cameras, Apple's new Lightning connector, and the teardown revealed stereo speakers, too.

Like other Apple products, the iPad mini isn't designed with user repairs in mind. iFixit needed to remove the glued-in glass face to get inside the tablet, and there are plenty of connectors and cables that can easily break during disassembly.

Once inside, the iFixit team found Samsung's W1235 S6TNMR1X01 display driver chip, and while the display itself doesn't reveal the manufacturer, there's a chance that in at least some iPad minis it's a Samsung part.

Other chips inside the iPad mini come from Hynix, Broadcom, Fairchild, and of course Apple. Like it's full size brother, most of the iPad mini's interior space is filled with batteries.

One bit of good news for repair shops is that the tablet's LCD and front glass aren't fused together. That means they can be replaced independently, which costs customers less. Unfortunately, the Lightning connector is soldered to the logic board, so be careful not to break your since replacing it will be expensive.

Like other Apple products, the iPad mini won't be easy to repair. Thanks to Apple's choice to avoid fusing the LCD to its glass cover, however, broken screens will be a much easier fix for repair shops.

The iPad mini is priced starting at US$329 and will be available in stores Friday morning.

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Would I like iOS devices, MacBooks, and such to be more repairable? Of course. I don’t like making more Tech-Garbage than necessary.

However there does come a point where reliability reaches a level where being able to fix something is not as important any more. I can’t remember the last time I had to fix something in my Apple device. If they do fail, yes, I’d have to take it somewhere and let them try to repair it, or as is more often likely, replace it. But that doesn’t happen nearly as often as it used to. If I’m looking at a $2000 laptop then yes, they should be able to repair it. but if we’re talking about a $300 iOS devices, that nearly never fail unless I sit on them or drop them in the tub, then you know it’s just not that critical any more. At some point making these devices as comparatively tiny one piece glued together ‘bricks’ with no moving parts makes them more reliable and efficient.

Replacing one iPhone does not make as much IT-Garbage as all the things I replaced on my PowerBook 5300. A MacBook Air only uses a fraction of the parts of my WallStreet or Pismo PowerBook and will last longer. An iPad uses a tiny fraction of the energy of my G3 and G4 PowerMac towers and is a quantum level more powerful.

Maybe user “repairebility” is one of those things like floppy drives that has receded into history. It certainly has with cars and nearly every appliance in my house. Maybe there’s a link between reliability, efficiency, and having the device so tightly integrated that you can’t get you fingers in there any more..

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