Cracking Open: Apple iPad 2012 (Wi-Fi)
March 21, 2012, 2:29pm PDT | Length: 00:04:21
Bill Detwiler cracks open the 2012 Apple iPad Wi-Fi. Inside, he uncovers the new A5X system-on-chip, more RAM, the Retina display, and a 45Whr battery to power these hardware upgrades. For a detailed analysis of the teardown, check out my article and the gallery, Apple iPad 2012 Teardown: Bigger battery, better GPU, more RAM.
>> Bill Detwiler: From the outside Apple's third generation iPad may look a lot like it's predecessor, but it's what's on the inside that counts. I'm Bill Detwiler, Head Technology Editor at CNET's sister site, TechRepublic, and I'm going to crack open the Wi-Fi only version of the 2012 iPad.
The 2012 iPad is nearly identical to the iPad 2 in design and construction. Now this is nice as it means many iPad 2 accessories, such as the Smart Cover, will fit this year's model. But it also means the new tablet is a real pain is crack open and work on. Now to begin cracking open the third generation iPad, I used a hair dryer to loosen the adhesive which holds the front panel to the aluminum case. I then used a series of plastic and metal tools to gently pry off the panel. Even having done this before on the iPad 2 and the new 4G, this process took at least thirty minutes. So be patient and don't rush it. Now with the front panel open, I removed the Retina display and disconnected the front panel from the motherboard. I then detached the visible connectors from the motherboard and removed the motherboard itself. Now unlike the 4G version, the Wi-Fi only iPad lacks the separate cellular board and cellular antennae. At this point I decided against removing any of the other components from the case. Most are either held in place with very strong adhesive or their connector cables are. Now forcing them loose could damage them, and I don't want to put this iPad back together. So the only thing left to do is remove the EMI RFI shields from the motherboard. And with that my tear down was complete. So what did I learn from cracking open the Wi-Fi only version of the 2012 iPad? Well, Apple kept the overall hardware layout the same but upgraded many of the internal components. The new 9.7-inch Retina display has a resolution of 2048 by 1536 at 264 pixels per inch, and that offers four times the total number of pixels as the iPad 2's screen. Now to run this display, Apple gave the iPad a more powerful GPU and more RAM. From what I can tell the 2012 iPad's A5X system on a chip has a duel-core CPU like the iPad 2 but a quad-core GPU. Now the 2012 iPad also has 1GB of RAM compared to the iPad 2's 512MB. Along with the upgraded graphics, the new iPad also has an improved iSight camera and support for AT and T and Verizon's 4G LTE networks on the 4G model. Now as this is a Wi-Fi only iPad, it doesn't have the separate cellular card or antennae found on the 4G version. Now one of the more surprising features of the new iPad is the battery. Although it's roughly the same physical size as the iPad 2's battery, it provides a lot more power. The new battery is rated at 43Whr compared to just 25Whr for the iPad 2. But given the new tablet's suped-up hardware, battery life remains about the same. On the downside, Apple didn't increase the iPad's storage capacity. The 2012 model comes in 16, 32 and 64GB versions. Also the tablet has a single speaker whereas most other 10-inch tablets have two. Lastly, like the iPad 2, the new iPad is very difficult to work on. Apple definitely didn't design this tablet to user serviceable. As far as pricing, Wi-Fi only iPad's start at 499 and go up to 699. WiFi plus 4G models add 130 dollars to the base price. Now as I noted in my review of the 4G iPad, there's nothing revolutionary about the 2012 model, but it is a solid incremental update. Now to see more iPad tear-down photos, check out my full Cracking Open gallery at TechRepublic.com/crackingopen. For CNET and TechRepublic, I'm Bill Detwiler and this has been a cracking open of the Wi-Fi only 2012 iPad.