iPad

Apple iPad 2: Difficult to repair

With the iPad 2, Apple has moved the company's tablet PC firmly into the "difficult to repair" category of Apple products.

I've cracked on dozens of computers, smartphones, game systems, and tablets during my time with TechRepublic. And, I've always approached our teardown galleries not just a means to see the guts of the latest tech gadgets, but as a way to help IT pros understand more about the products they support. I try to learn how well built the device is, does it use high-quality components, and above all can it be repaired/upgraded by the average IT pro.

It was with this philosophy in mind, that I approached our Apple iPad 2 teardown. It took about an hour and a half to completely disassemble the device, and I learned a lot about the device along the away. Here are my specific observations about the iPad 2's construction:

  1. Very difficult to open the case: Apple used metal clips to hold the original iPad and iPad 3G's front panel in place. On the iPad 2, they use very strong adhesive. This fastening method makes it extremely difficult to remove the front panel without cracking the glass or reattach the panel when the repair is complete.
  2. Most cables glued to the metal frame: Many of the components (cameras, connectors, buttons, etc.) connect to the main printed circuit board (PCB) with thin ribbon cables. These ribbon cables are often glued to the iPad 2's metal frame. If you peel the cables away from the frame, there is a good chance you will tear them.
  3. Battery cannot be easily removed: To remove the battery, you must open the case, remove the LCD, and remove the main PCB. And once you've done all that, you must still pry out the battery, which is glued to the metal iPad 2's metal frame.
  4. Removable wireless card: The wireless card can be removed from the main PCB. I assume this allows Apple to use the same PCB for both the Wi-Fi only and 3G models.

Difficult to repair

With the iPad 2, Apple has moved the company's tablet firmly into the "difficult to repair" category of Apple products--where most of the iPods live. At least with the first generation iPad and iPad 3G, you could replace the metal clips that hold the front panel in place. Such is not the case on the iPad 2.

I'm not surprised by Apple's decision to make the iPad 2 less repair-friendly, but I am disappointed. I wish they had followed the path Motorola took with the XOOM tablet--a device that seems made to be opened, upgraded, and repaired.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

36 comments
BobJeffers
BobJeffers

Frankly, the issue of repair is not one of our issues. We expect a PC or other device to last on average 3-4 years. Barring any significant technological advance that would warrant purchase prior to that point. Our issue is more one of the ability to simply and quickly replace the battery ourselves. If we are away from power sources, we want to be able to swap-out the batteries. If a battery fails or starts to lose ability to hold a full charge, we want to be able to purchase one and put it in without the hassle and additional cost of bringing it in for "repair." Operating system aside, if you can't simply swap the batteries, we won't buy it.

ptlabiss
ptlabiss

But I can't wait until mine arrives this week!

bob
bob

Hey, If concerned it will break, then buy the Apple Care! Otherwise buy a non-Apple product. Anyone tried to repair a Jaguar automobile?????

wlj1943
wlj1943

Razor blades and paper cups do not contain Lithium Batteries as this item probably does.

davidbteague
davidbteague

If I'm going to buy any device that is so obviously designed to throw away it fails in any way, the price had better be close to the $100 point. That means I'm not buying one of these.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

They don't want the individual [no matter how technical they are] to tinker with the insides. Should the buyer - who paid $500+ - have the right to do so [at their expense if they break kit]?

user support
user support

I do want to learn about how products such as laptops, workstations, internet tablets, mobile phones, printers and SLR camera work. For work situations - we only repair devices that are out of manufacturer and extended 3rd party coverages that are still working and have not been replaced (printers, projectors, cameras, switches). All other devices we call into the manufacturer if under warranty and a 3rd party vendor for extended coverage. For home situations - I would contact the manufacturer for instructions on repair or replacement under the warranty. Is easy repair or battery replacement one of the features advertised by Apple when selling their devices? I thought people bought Apple products due to ease of use or for the chic styling.

SLissa001
SLissa001

When I bought the Iphone4 I noticed that the how expensive the warranties are for very little coverage. If you don't have the warranties and decide to bring it to an apple store they charge you an arm and a leg to fix it. It's a very interesting coincidence because it seems like the idea of a device being difficult to repair forces you to go back to the manufactuerer. It's kinda like buying a Lexus because you have to go to the dealer and pay top dollar everytime something goes wrong.

Psufan
Psufan

Apple hardware has pretty much always been a pain in the @$$ to repair. For the past 5 years I've had to work repairing iBooks, MacBooks, and iMacs. This wasn't my main duty, thank goodness. More times than not, had to send them to Apple or a local certified Apple repair shop. Our company had purchased AppleCare plans (3 year additional maintenance) which were used quite frequently. I had a stack of repair orders that you wouldn't believe. I can safely say I sent in for repair on average two a month. Finally hired a technician and repairing these became his duty. He had worked on PC repairs for years. He had choice words for Mac hardware (junk, pieces of crap, etc). Anyway, I'd consider purchasing a Mac if someone other than Apple were allowed to install the OS on a clone system. Their hardware is the pits and I doubt if that will ever change.

sedricb
sedricb

1st and second generation are out. If people keep these for as long as they keep there pc's and not problems, it would be a good longevity test. I figure at 1000 bucks for a top of the line IPAD and if you can keep it for 3 years without a problem, you are doing good. That is about 27 dollars a month minus any apps that you pay for but; the value factor is there because there are other things you can do with it like watch movies in the car instead of buying a TV for the car and other things.

xangpow
xangpow

I refuse to pay 300+ dollars for any Ipod-like thing. The first Ipod i got was the 1stgen 8gb Itouch i bought it for $150 two years after it came out. My next Ipod was a 32gb 3gen and only paid $200, once again two years after it came out. So when Ipad 3 comes out i will probably wait two more years and get an Ipad 1 for hopefully $100-$200. But thats just me. I really have no need for I-anything. But it does come in handy sometimes.

BobJeffers
BobJeffers

We are considered small potatos as far a business goes. We won't buy any portable device that you cannot replace the battery in ... no iPhones, iPods, iPads. Batteries can die a quick death at times and it it fails we don't want to have to take it to the repair depot to get a lousy battery put in it. Our time is worth more than that.

boomchuck1
boomchuck1

Next year Apple will come out with iPad3. The original iPad will be 2 years old and deemed obsolete. Show up at the Apple store with it and they'll give you a quizzical look like you brought in a Kaypro 2 and want a repair. 2 years from now the iPad2 will get the same reaction. They never really plan for you to keep a device like this long enough for a battery to wear out.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I haven't seen many property insurance policies that cover equipment failure. Theft, fire, accident, etc., but no "It jus' ain't workin' no mo' " clause from either insurers or credit cards. Further, most manufacturer standard and extended warranties specifically exclude data, and they will make not effort to save or restore it.

jim_manley
jim_manley

Even those iPad 1 clips weigh something and take up valuable space, while glue is lighter and thinner. Technoids still just don't get the primary market for Apple products - remember the "Rest of Us" campaign for the original Macintosh, along with the very difficult-to-open case that required an extra-long Torx screwdriver/pry-jaw tool (although the second part of that tool wasn't necessary if you had the fingers and arms of The Hulk :) No "normal" person is interested in opening up a productivity tool just for the fun of it and, if you're worried about repairs, that's what insurance is for, whether it's AppleCare, a credit card's oft-included coverage for purchases, or your personal/corporate insurance policy. The defect rate on these products has been unbelievably low, especially given how many they've been stamping out in China during the past year by people who can't afford them, much less afford a data plan, the time to waste on social media, or have a use for what 99.99% of the apps do that they can't afford, either. Apparently, you haven't been under the hood, or behind the dashboard, of a modern vehicle, lately - they haven't quite gotten to the point of gluing everything together, but, their construction is the next worst thing, requiring all sorts of specialized tools (that only they sell - a coincidence? NOT! ): At least thieves now have to use a gas/battery-powered saw to steal your radio/audio/nav/satellite/TV/DVD/Blu-ray system, and probably half of the rest of the vehicle's parts. The same is now true of the iPad's innards - will such wonders ever cease? ;)

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

It's clear that these products are designed to live a very short life before being dumped. Why does Apple gets a pass from the "green" enthusiasts who so quickly condemn other products for their profligate wastefullness?

Mindtickler
Mindtickler

When purchasing a product like the iPad, I wouldn't add in the repair factor because I KNOW I will never attempt a repair. I'd just take it back. However, with other devices such as a PC, I definitely would add in the repair factor. The question is a bit generic but it appears to be naturally biased toward iPad-type devices so your results may not be very accurate.

jazz_80013
jazz_80013

Ever try to shim the valves on a Ducati Desmosedici? Same principal. If you are not a highly qualifiued expert don't even think of it

bill.harrison
bill.harrison

I have to agree it is planned obsolesence. What other possible reason could there be for such difficult battery repalcement; even the best battery will die before the electronics go.

jeffwr
jeffwr

Apple doesn't want you to fix it, they want you to buy a new one!

OH Smeg
OH Smeg

Do you have a problem with this model? Col

robo_dev
robo_dev

like that red Ferrari or tall supermodel, easy on the eye, but not necessarily the most stable and reliable 'under the covers'.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

I think your spot on. Paper cups and razor blades have been replaced by electronics as the hot disposable items of the 21st century.

daboochmeister
daboochmeister

You're paying as much for it as for a PC ... why not expect to be able to repair it?

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Yep I do this a lot so what's your Problem? They are easy to shim up and I've seen some people who should know better spend an increasable amount of time trying to get it right. But like all things if you are not setup for this type of thing you shouldn't attempt it. OH and I pull out the valve Springs on my Desmo's they are just an unnecessary thing that can break causing lots of damage. Makes things hard if you want to park it on a hill but otherwise doesn't make any difference. ;) Shimming Desmo's is just the same as the Car Engine Builder attempting to bore out a Motor Cycle Barrel sure that have the right gear to do it but not the full Knowhow. :0 Col

Artty Sie
Artty Sie

They boasted that the alu unibody for the Mac PROs was recyclable. What will they say about the iPad 2? They don't give a s*** about the environment, so much is clear.

darryl
darryl

They want you to *try* to fix it yourself, voiding their warranty so that they don't have to fix it, and then you can buy a new one.

Slayer_
Slayer_

The iPad 3 will be released before then, and everyone will buy one of those long before the warranty is up. The typical user that uses a device for 15 years or more, would never buy such a product anyways because you can't change the battery.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I would have guessed it was a typical V12 car! :p

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

none of it is "Green" - there's no reason why HDDs can't be made to last 100 years now and have at least a 50 year warranty but they won't do it, (not can't but won't) because you'd have to pay over $5,000.00 for just one HDD but they used to care, back in the early days when yer 80x86 system blew up you moved the old HDD into the new system or the only reason for replacing the HDD was to upgrade to a larger / faster HDD you used to be able to visit the local used computer store and buy used HDDs if you do that now you take a huge chance that it won't last more than a few days (100% of my IDE disks 10GB and under I bought used, either bare or installed in a used unit) now it's not uncommon to replace HDDs several times during the useful life of a PC there's no reason why a phone shouldn't last 15+ years etc. people don't want Green in tech, just like they don't want Green in cars to make a Green car that goes for 500,000,000,000+ miles only ever needing fuel, tires and oil you'd have to pay well over $1,000,000.00 for it but in the current economic model it is required that all products be junk that you constantly have to replace with new junk that you replace again next year or the year after etc.

Artty Sie
Artty Sie

Just to make it harder to open it. Compare this to HTC smartphones where changing the battery is a 5 second bare hands job.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Not that I disagree with you, you understand. :D I just wanted to know if Mindtickler also viewed this as $600+ disposable commodity.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Bugatti=Car It [u]can[/u] be confusing if you're in a hurry... ;)