New iPad Teardown Reveals Lots of Similarities to Original iPad Air

Repair experts over at iFixit tore apart Apple’s new iPad with a brighter 9.7-inch screen. What they discovered doesn’t come as surprise: the canonical iPad is basically an original four-year-old iPad Air with a more repairable screen and some new jewelry in the form of Touch ID, Apple Pay, Apple’s homegrown third-generation 64-bit A9 chip with the embedded M9 motion coprocessor and other minor updates.

Unfortunately, the device’s A9 processor is outfitted with two gigabytes of RAM. iPhone 6s’s A9 chip has two gigabytes of RAM as well, just like iPad Air 2’s A8X chip, so this may not be that big of a deal. On the other hand, it’s a letdown considering iPhone 7 Plus is rocking three gigabytes of RAM.

iFixit also questions Apple’s claims of the new iPad featuring a brighter Retina Display, since the display panel does not look any different from what was found on the original Air. If Apple compared the display brightness to the iPad Air 2, the increased brightness might just be due to the display not being fused as it was the case for the original Air. The unfused display also makes it easier to replace the digitizer and the cover glass separately.
The differences between this iPad and iPad Air 2 include:
  • Faster Apple-designed A9 chip
  • The absence of a lock switch
  • Microphone slots shrunk down to microphone holes
  • Single row of speaker holes
The digitizer and LCD from the original iPad Air fit in this new iPad, but iFixit needs more time to determine if they actually work. Like with other iOS devices, the Touch ID sensor is uniquely paired to its logic board at the factory, making repairs harder.

“Our question is: brighter than what? It doesn’t look that different from the original iPad Air’s display. If they mean brighter than iPad Air 2, then that may simply be due to reverting to the unfused display design of the original iPad Air,” they noted.

Other shared components include iPhone 6s’s A9 chip with two gigabytes of RAM, Broadcom touch controllers from iPhone 5/5c/5s/6/6 Plus/SE/iPad Pro/MacBook/MacBook Air/MacBook Pro, NXP-made NFC controller with Apple Pay support (as seen in iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2), NXP’s USB charging controller from iPhone 7 and more.


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