iFixit iMac teardown reveals dual mics, difficult RAM upgrades and glued LCD

21.5 iMac teardown late 2012

While we had some pictures of a brief teardown earlier this week, iFixit has now completed its ritual teardown of the new 21.5-inch iMac that officially went on sale on Friday.

Unfortunately, iFixit described the process as an “exercise in disappointment,” noting the iMac’s new thinner design introduces new hurdles for repairability. Most notably, the device’s glass and LCD are now glued directly to the iMac’s frame, while accessing the RAM, CPU, and hard drive will now mean having to remove the entire logic board:

The late 2012 iMac 21.5″ — code-named EMC 2544 — is an exercise in disappointment for us. We were quite worried when we saw that super-thin bezel during Apple’s keynote, and unfortunately we were correct: the glass and LCD are now glued to the iMac’s frame with incredibly strong adhesive. Gone are the lovely magnets that held the glass in place in iMacs of yesteryear.

A few things noted in iFixit’s highlights: a new rubber housing that “dampens the vibrations from the spinning hard drive,” a new single fan layout, dual microphones, and a 5mm thinner LG made display. Those are some of the highlights of Apple’s new design, but iFixit is scoring the new iMac as a 3 out of 10 (down from 7 last year) due to the many issues with repairability. Here are just a few:

Read more

iFixit tears down the new 7th generation iPod nano

We got a look inside the new fifth-generation iPod touch last week thanks to our friends over at iFixit. Today, they are taking apart the seventh-generation iPod nano that Apple recently unveiled alongside the new iPod touch and iPhone 5 lineups. While it did not perform quite as poorly as the iPod touch in terms of repairability, it was still unable to outperform the 7 out of 10 repairability score given to iPhone 5. We see the usual suspects inside including flash memory from Toshiba and a TI touchscreen controller. However, a quick look at the Nano’s internals shows a few anonymous, Apple-branded chips as well:

* Toshiba THGBX2G7D2JLA01 128 Gb (16 GB) NAND flash
* Texas Instruments 343S0538 touchscreen controller
* Broadcom BCM2078KUBG Bluetooth + FM radio
* NXP Semiconductors 1609A1
* 75203 23017
* 75292 98820
* 339S0193
* Apple 338S1099
* Apple 338S1146

Thanks to many components being soldered to the logic board (battery, lightning connector, headphone jack, etc.), and a battery attached to the assembly, iFixit is giving the new Nano a 5 out of 10 for repairability. Here are some of the highlights:

Read more

iFixit tears down the fifth-generation iPod touch

As usual, our friends at iFixit have once again taken apart Apple’s latest device. This time we get a look inside the new fifth-generation iPod touch that started shipping to customers this week, revealing all of its internal components including: 512MB of RAM from Hynix, Apple’s A5 processor, and NAND flash from Toshiba.

* A5 Processor
* Hynix H9TKNNN4KDBRCR 512 MB RAM
* Toshiba THGBX2G8D4JLA01 32 GB NAND flash
* Apple 3381064 dialog power management IC
* Murata 339S0171 Wi-Fi module
* Broadcom BCM 5976 touchscreen controller
* Apple 33831116
* STMicroelectronics AGD32229ESGEK low-power, three-axis gyroscope
* Texas Instruments 27AZ5R1 touchscreen SoC

While the iPhone 5 was able to grab an impressive repairability score in its teardown, iFixit unfortunately found the new iPod touch much harder to get inside. Due to lack of external screws and two “hard-to-manage ribbon cables” on the logic board, the device gets a low 3 out of 10 repairability score. That’s in comparison to the 7 out of 10 awarded to the iPhone 5. iFixit said, “repair is not impossible, but it’s certainly going to be difficult and expensive if one component breaks.” The teardown also found the iPod touch Home button has a “weaker, rubber-membrane design” when compared to the iPhone 5.

Here are some of the highlights:

Read more

iPhone 5 scores ‘low concern’ in chemical analysis of 36 smartphones

Together, with HealthyStuff.org, our friends at iFixit have just completed a chemical analysis of 36 smartphones, including the iPhone 5 and previous generations of the device. Each device was ranked from 0 to 5 (with 0 being best) based on a number of common hazardous materials including lead, bromine, and mercury. In the image above, we see a breakdown on which components of the iPhone 5 have the highest concentration of those chemicals. The findings show Apple is making good in its commitment to greatly reduce harmful chemicals in its products, with the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 ranking significantly better than previous generations. For instance, the iPhone 2G lands itself at the bottom of the list with a “high concern”—not far from Nokia’s N95.

The iPhone 4S was able to outrank the iPhone 5; indicating Apple was not able to significantly reduce hazardous chemicals in the new device. However, all iPhone models were behind the Motorola Citrus—a device Motorola specifically markets as an eco-friendly option. While iPhone 4S came in second behind Citrus, the inexpensive LG Remarq and Samsung Captivate were able to beat out the iPhone 5. When it comes to Apples’ biggest competitors, such as Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S III and higher-end devices from HTC, the iPhone 4/4S/5 all outrank the competition.

As noted by iFixit, each year only about 8 percent of the 130 million discarded cellphones make it to proper recycling facilities. With Apple likely to build a 100 million new iPhones in the year to come, Apple’s commitment to make the “most environmentally responsible products in our industry” is certainly an important one.

iFixit explained the method used to rank the phones:

Read more

iFixit posts repair guide for Retina MacBook Pro, estimates battery replacement at $500

You might remember a couple months ago when our friends at iFixit tore down the new Retina MacBook Pro. Unfortunately, the device received its lowest repairability score with the company calling it “the least repairable laptop”. While the new MacBooks provide possibly Apple’s least accessible and upgradeable design out of the box, iFixit updated its website today with its official 2012 MacBook Pro Retina repair guide to make it as easy as possible. Fifteen separate installation guides for the AirPort Board, battery, fans, logic board, speakers, SSD, trackpad, etc., are included in the repair guide with one maintenance guide for reapplying thermal paste to the CPU and GPU.

Many components within the laptop can be removed without much fuss, provided folks use the correct tools. Pentalobe screws hold the lower case in place and Torx screws secure everything else. Spudgers and plastic opening tools are absolutely necessary, as many of the components are designed with such tight tolerances that using fingertips is simply not an option.

Fair warning: working on the laptop is no easy task. Some repairs are simply infeasible. For example, there is no way to replace the trackpad without removing the battery. And while it’s possible to remove the battery, chances are high that it will be punctured in the process. Puncturing Lithium-polymer batteries releases noxious fumes and can cause fires. Additionally, removing the LCD glass from the aluminum frame will almost certainly break the glass. So components residing under the LCD — such as the FaceTime camera — will have to be replaced with the entire assembly… Finding replacements for the machine’s proprietary components is currently difficult. We’re working to source parts, but it may take some time.

iFixit also estimated that third-party battery replacements —if done correctly— could cost over $500:

Read more

Retina MacBook Pro shows up in EPEAT Registry

Apple’s products are back on the EPEAT’s registry with a Gold standard, but the Retina MacBook pro notably was at question.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based Company announced earlier this week that it planned to forgo the environmental rating system. The decision allegedly came after the EPEAT took up an issue with the new MacBook Pro’s Retina display and repairability factor, which iFixit detailed in a widely reported analysis last month.

After Apple dropped the EPEAT standard, the city of San Francisco said it planned to stop purchases of some Apple products, and then Politico revealed federal officials were also thinking twice before procuring Apple’s computers.

The hullabaloo apparently caused the folks in Cupertino to second guess their plan of action, as Senior Vice President of Hardware Bob Mansfield suddenly issued a statement on Apple’s environmental page today regarding the contention. He said the company made a mistake and would concede by returning to EPEAT.

Now, a few hours later, the EPEAT’s registry has 40 Apple products listed, including the Retina MacBook Pro. However, its IEEE 1680-2009 Criteria Category Summary (screenshot below) is a bit perplexing, especially considering the reasons reported as to why Apple pulled its products in the first place.

Read more