Apple iPhone SE Teardown Exposes Frankenstein Design Using Parts From Multiple Generation iPhones

Following months of rumors and speculation, Apple two weeks ago did what everyone pretty much expected it would, which was announce a smaller size iPhone model with modern guts. Dubbed the iPhone SE, it's not so much a new iPhone as it is a shrinkage of the iPhone 6s. Lest there be any doubt about this, a teardown analysis of the iPhone SE shows parts from multiple generation iPhones stuffed into a 4-inch body.

We're not saying there's anything wrong with that, we're just calling a spade a spade (or calling a fig a fig, as the Greeks used to say). In this case, the iPhone SE is a mash-up of iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6s parts, all neatly assembled underneath a 4-inch display for people who prefer the smaller size iPhones of yesteryear.

Apple iPhone SE Open

Big or small, getting into one of these suckers can be a little tricky. Apple hasn't been known to cater to the do-it-yourself crowd, and the iPhone SE is no exception. As is common among iPhone models, the iPhone SE is secured with those funky Pentalobe screws (boo!), though there's no adhesive holding the chassis together (hooray!).

One interesting thing the teardown folks at iFixIt discovered right off the bat was that Apple didn't equip the iPhone SE with a display gasket. It was surmised that its presence in both the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus suggested water resistance and/or structural reinforcement, and its absence here suggests it was for the latter.

The iPhone SE's display, which is "pretty much identical" to the one used in the iPhone 5s, comes off rather easily, making screen repair a less stressful task. So is replacement—the iPhone 5s display is plug-and-play compatible with the iPhone SE, including fitment, connectors, and functionality.

Apple iPhone SE Battery

With the chassis separated into two halves, getting to the capacious 1,624 mAh battery is pretty easy. It's not technically user removable, but if you're comfortable opening up the iPhone SE, you should be able to swap the battery, should the need ever arise.

Digging deeper into the iPhone SE reveals a mix of parts and components found in other generation iPhones, like the Qualcomm MDM9625M LTE modem that's used in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and of course the custom A9 System-on-Chip (SoC).

Apple iPhone SE Battery

The Frankenstein iPhone SE mustered a 6 out of 10 Repairability Score when all was said and done. It was dinged for a fussy Touch ID cable that could be easily ripped out of its socket and those pesky Pentalobe screws, and praised for making the display and battery easy to swap out.