Whenever Apple releases a new device, we can always count on our friends at iFixit to tear it apart and see what makes it tick. They’ve already done that with the new $329 iPad. Our own Bryan Wolfe said the new offering was “nearly identical to the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, but with fewer features and a lower price.” Is that what the folks at iFixit found, or are we really looking at a beefed up original iPad Air? Let’s look at what the 2017 iPad teardown reveals.
How Easy Will the New iPad Be to Repair?
When iFixit tore down the new iPad, it found the device to be about as easy to take apart and reassemble as the first iPad Air. That is to say, not very. The new device scored two out of 10 on iFixit’s repairability scale, the same ranking given to the original iPad Air. The 2017 iPad teardown reveals the screen to be easier to remove, but the battery is still “an absolute bear to get out.” The 9.7-inch iPad Pro, by the way, has that same repairability score, too.
The 2017 iPad Teardown Compares the Device With Its Predecessors
So, is the new iPad more like a 9.7-inch iPad Pro, or the original iPad Air? During the teardown, iFixit said it had to “check the back just to make sure this isn’t an old iPad masquerading around in a new box.” Not check to make sure it isn’t an old iPad Pro, mind you, but an old iPad. In fact, iFixit says the 2017 iPad looks very similar to the original iPad Air 1, except for these key differences:
- No physical lock switch
- Microphone slots shrunk down to holes
- A single row of speaker holes
- The presence of a Touch ID sensor
The “iPad 5” still has a headphone jack, surprisingly, but lacks a physical lock switch. Inside, the new iPad has 2GB of RAM, twice the memory of the first iPad Air but less than an iPhone 7 Plus. You also enjoy a faster processor, with an A9 chip instead of the A7 from the original iPad Air.
Final Verdict: A Trimmed-Down iPad Pro or a Beefed Up iPad Air 1?
In almost all respects, iFixit found the 2017 iPad to be much more akin to the original iPad Air than the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. The battery is even the same, a 32.9Wh reservoir. This isn’t terribly surprising, though, since the physical specifications are more similar between those two devices than any other. Still, it’s disappointing. Apple has basically done another iPhone SE: they’ve taken the first iPad Air, upgraded the internals a bit, and added a Touch ID sensor.