Maybe one day Apple will release an iPad that is relatively easy to crack open and service on your own, at home, in case you need to replace a critical component or swap out an aging battery. We're not holding our breath. Apple's latest 9.7-inch iPad announced last week and built around its A10 Fusion processor has now gone under the knife, and as expected, it is quite the ordeal tearing one of these suckers down.
Apple is not alone here, of course. For the most part, tablets have always been difficult to tear into, regardless of whether it's an iPad (iOS) or Android model from any number of manufacturers. Many of today's thin and light laptops are the same way, as are most smartphones. That has been the trend for some time now, and we don't anticipate it will change, at least not in the near future.
As it pertains to the newest iPad, the folks at iFixIt put it on the operating table and performed exploratory surgery using its arsenal of specialized teardown tools, including its iOpener, Suction Handle, and a few other instruments. Having opening several iPad tablets in the past, getting inside the latest model started off easy enough—a little bit of heat combined with some suction and prying lifted the digitizer panel (separate from the display) right off. A few screw removals later, the LCD panel popped off as well. So far, so good.
Image Source: iFixIt
Unfortunately, that is where the easy road ends, giving way to much tougher terrain. Glue seems to the be the go-to product for these types of devices, with the sticky gunk proving a worthy adversary to DIY repairs. Strong adhesive binds the logic board to the case, but that is not the only place it is found. Apple glues the battery in place too, and since that is probably the one piece of hardware you might want to replace in the future, it's a bummer that swapping it out is so difficult.
On the bright side, the latest iPad uses the same battery (A1484 with a 32.9 Wh capacity) as found in the previous generation tablet. Replacement batteries are relatively easy to come by, and for large organizations service a lot of iPads, this means having to stock just a single battery SKU for multiple models.
Image Source: iFixIt
When the dust settled, the latest iPad emerged with a dismal 2 out of 10 Repairablity Score. It earned kudos for having an easy to remove LCD panel, along with a separately replaceable cover that could potentially make repairs from drop damage less expensive. However, the adhesive at many turns is what ultimately kept the score so low.
Thumbnail and Top Image Source: iFixIt