Apple's Newly Minted $329 iPad Model Flunks Teardown Exam

iPad Teardown

The good news for iPad fans is that Apple's newest 9.7-inch model is the most affordable yet. Apple's upgraded tablet starts at $329, a shockingly low(er) price considering that each of its predecessors came out of the gate with a $499 starting price, and with less storage. So, that's groovy. What's not so great, however, is it continues to be a do-it-yourself repair nightmare, as a new teardown report reveals.

As with previous generation iPad models, Apple locks the chassis shut on its newest model with adhesive. That means needing to apply heat around the edges and then trying to pry it open. Patience is the key here. Fortunately for clumsy owners, Apple reverted back to the original iPad Air's design rather than the iPad Air 2 by separating the LCD and digitizer rather than fusing them together. If little Billy drops the iPad and cracks the display, it's an easier and cheaper fix this way.

One of the things Apple touts in its press release is a "brighter 9.7-inch Regina display." The teardown folks at iFixIt questioned this claim while picking apart (literally) the new tablet.

"Our question is: brighter than what? It doesn't look that different from the Air 1's display. If they mean brighter than the Air 2, then that may simply be due to reverting to the unfused display design of the Air 1," iFixit noted.

iPad Air 1 and iPad

What is also interesting is how closely the new iPad resembles the original iPad Air. Looking at the tablets above, can you tell which is the old iPad and which one is new? The one on the right is the latest model. Both feature the same 32.9 Wh battery, besting the 27.6 Wh battery found in the iPad Air 2 and the 27.9 Wh battery that resides in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

The 2017 iPad isn't just a repackaged iPad Air 1, though. While the construction is similar, the new model boasts a faster A9 system-on-chip (SoC). It also has Touch ID, which is not easily repairable. That's because the Touch ID sensor is "uniquely paired to its logic board at the factory."

iPad Teardown

While not without its positive points, the final verdict on the new iPad is a measly 2 out of 10 Repairabilty Score. It scored brownie points for having the LCD be relatively easy to remove once separated from the from iPad and for not soldering the battery to the logic board. However, just like in previous iPads the front panel is glued to the rest of the device. The implication there is that users are at a high risk of cracking the glass when attempting a repair.

The iPad also lost points for using "gobs of adhesive" to hold everything in place, ranking the new tablet "among the most difficult battery removal procedures" of any iPad. It was also dinged for using foam sticky tape on the LCD panel (increases the risk of it shattering) and the inability to access the front panel's connector until the LCD is removed.