iFixit has finally gotten around to tearing apart the 2018 iPad Pro.
Unsurprisingly, it has discovered lots of big improvements under the hood of Apple’s latest tablet, and more chips than you can shake a stick at. Plus, there’s good news and bad news for DIY repairers.
iFixit has already torn down the new Mac mini and MacBook Air, but the vast majority of us have been really itching to see what’s inside the new iPad Pro. Of all three devices, it has seen the biggest changes, with a new edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display, Face ID, and more.
Some of the improvements aren’t so obvious until you rip the iPad Pro apart.
iFixit tears down the 2018 iPad Pro
Just like its predecessors, the new iPad Pro is held together with a lot of glue, so getting inside it is difficult. Once the display is out of the way, however, all of its internals are exposed. As you might expect, its battery takes up most of the room.
That battery has a capacity of 7,812 mAh, running at 3.77 V for 29.45 Wh of power in the 11-inch model. That’s a downgrade from the 30.8 Wh found inside the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, but Apple’s says you’ll get the same 10 hours of battery life on a single charge.
Like in the iPhone and the new MacBook Air, the battery is secured with adhesive strips. You might think that this makes the battery easy to remove — and it should — but Apple has also used “a huge patch of supergoop” (glue) to make taking it out incredibly difficult.
It’s not clear why Apple uses adhesive strips and glue. The strips are supposed to make removing batteries easier, so adding glue just defeats their purpose. iFixit suggests the only reason to do this is for “rigidity reinforcement.”
Big, booming speakers
The iPad Pro’s speakers also take up a whole lot of space. It packs four tweeters and four woofers altogether, which makes it by far the most impressive iOS device in terms of sound. If you watch a lot of videos on your iPad, this is the one to get.
What’s interesting about the iPad’s speakers is that their housings are “carved right into the aluminum case.” They are never meant to be removed, and doing so takes “a ton of heat and willpower.” Should one fail, then, Apple would likely just replace the whole iPad.
Lots and lots of chips
On the iPad Pro’s logic board, alongside its A12X Bionic chipset, iFixit found flash storage made by Toshiba, an NFC controller made by NXP, two 2GB RAM chips made by Micron, and other chips from Broadcom, Texas Instruments, and Apple.
More chips, including a timing controller from Parade Technologies (the same one used in the 10.5-inch iPad Pro) and others from Texas Instruments and Intersil, can be found behind the iPad’s new Liquid Retina display.
There’s another chip from STMicroelectronics — an ARM Cortex microcontroller — which sits on the circuit board that’s responsible for charging the new Apple Pencil.
Cameras and ports
The new iPad Pro’s rear-facing camera promises the same performance as its predecessors, but with sensors that have been re-engineered to be thinner. Despite this, a camera bump is still required, and there’s still no optical image stabilization.
iFixit calls this a design that seems “shot through with compromise.”
The front-facing camera and Face ID sensors appear to use the same hardware found in the iPhone X, “but in a slightly modified form factor.”
Apple has made some improvements to connectivity, however. Not only does the new iPad have a more versatile USB-C port, but unlike the Lightning ports in its predecessors, it’s modular. That means the port can be replaced without having to swap out the whole logic board.
The Apple Pencil’s charging connector is comprised of a tiny copper charging coil. Removing it is extremely difficult, and iFixit was unable to do so without “tiny capacitors and other board bits” flying off in the process.
Inside the new Apple Pencil
iFixit also opened up the new Apple Pencil using an ultrasonic blade. In addition to its new wireless charging system, it houses new magnets, a Broadcom touch controller, and a custom integrated controller from Apple.
Like the original Apple Pencil, you can’t get into this one without completely destroying it.
2018 iPad Pro repairs will be difficult
What does all of this mean for DIY repairers, then? Well, it isn’t more difficult to get into the new iPad Pro — but it’s still very hard. Once you’re inside, there isn’t a great deal you could fix easily. Just removing the battery would strike fear into novice tinkerers.
The iPad’s LCD and cover glass, like in previous Pro models, are fused together, which makes it easier to take them out of the device. However, should the glass break, you’d likely have to replace the glass and LCD together, which would be incredibly costly.
Some components could be replaced on their own, like the USB-C connector and cameras, but others are far too difficult to remove to make a repair worthwhile. As a result, iFixit awards the 2018 iPad Pro a repairability score of 3 out of 10.