iPad Mini more difficult to repair than larger iPad

Bill Detwiler shows you how to disassemble the iPad Mini and explains why it's actually more difficult to crack open and repair than the iPad.

Cracking Open the Apple iPad Mini

Apple's iPad Mini may be a "concentration" of the iPad's best features. But, it's also a concentration of the worst. And as I show in this week's Cracking Open episode, it's small size, extremely fragile LCD, and super-tiny screws actually make it more frustrating to crack open and work on than the larger iPad.

The iPad Mini is Apple's answer to the rapidly growing market for 7-inch tablets--currently dominated by Amazon's Kindle Fire HD and Google's Nexus 7. The Mini has a 7.9" IPS display (1,024 x 768), a dual-core A5 processor, 512MB RAM, a 5 megapixel rear camera, 1.2 megapixel front camera, and comes in either Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + Cellular models. Our test unit had 16GB of storage, but 32GB and 64GB versions are also available.

For more information on the iPad Mini, including for real-world tests and pricing, check out Scott Stein's full CNET review. And for a comparison of the iPad Mini against the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD, Jessica Dolcourt has you covered.

Full teardown gallery: Cracking Open the Apple iPad Mini

Cracking Open observations

  • Extremely difficult to open: Like the larger iPad, the Mini's front glass panel is held to the metal body with extremely strong adhesive. Removing the panel involves heating the panel's edges (loosening the adhesive) and very gently prying it away from the body. This is a time consuming process that often take 30 minutes or more.
  • Digitizer cable relocated: On the larger iPad, the digitizer ribbon cable is located along the left edge in the lower corner. Apple moved the Mini's digitizer cable to the lower-right corner along the bottom edge.
  • Must remove LCD to remove front glass: The motherboard connectors for the glass digitizer are located under the LCD and two internal metal plates. You'll need to remove the screen and plates to disconnect the front panel.
  • Fragile LCD panel: The iPad Mini's LCD has a plastic backing, and the panel is much less rigid than the larger iPad's metal-backed LCD.
  • Internal metal plate: Like the iPod Touch, a large metal plate is located between the LCD panel and other internal components.
  • Adhesive overload: Not only are the front panel and battery held in place with adhesive so are the motherboard and just about every other component. Although the components are accessible, removing them is no easy task.
  • Tiny, tiny screws: Apple used standard Phillips #000 screws inside the iPad Mini, but they are some of the smallest screws I've seen and there are lots of them.
  • More difficult than iPad to repair: The fragile LCD panel, copious amounts of adhesive, tiny screws, and unit's smaller size actually make the iPad Mini more difficult to repair than its larger sibling.

Internal hardware

Our iPad Mini test unit had the following hardware:

  • Dual-core Apple A5 processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • Hynix H2JTDG8UD2MBR 16GB NAND Flash
  • Apple 343S0593-A5
  • Apple 338S1116 Cirrus Logic Audio Codec
  • Fairchild FDMC 6676BZ
  • Fairchild FDMC 6683
  • Apple 338S1077 Cirrus Logic Audio ICs
  • Murata 339S0171 WiFi module
  • 7.9" IPS LCD screen (1024 x 768 pixels at 163 ppi)
  • 3.72 V, 16.5 Whr, 4440 mAh Li-ion battery pack
  • 5 megapixel rear camera
  • 1.2 megapixel front camera