On a scale of 1 to 10, the new Apple iPad Mini 3 rates only a 2 when it comes to the ease with which it can be repaired. The unit, which hit store shelves this week, was rated by the gadget-repair site iFixit, which proclaimed that the iPad Mini 3 is almost indistinguishable in design and internal components from its predecessor, the iPad Air 2.
iFixit found that inside the Mini 3 is a variety of almost a dozen chips made by several different silicon providers, including Universal Scientific Industrial, SK Hynix, NXP Semiconductors, Fairchild Semiconductor and Apple itself.
Like the second-generation iPad Mini, the new miniature tablet comes with an A7 processor, 1GB of RAM and a 5-megapixel rear-facing iSight camera. What has changed are the finishes, with gold added to the silver and space gray, and the storage options, which now include 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB, with each increment adding $100 to the price. Also, the home button has been equipped with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
Not Much Different
In a teardown published on Friday by iFixit that handful of differences and new options were virtually all the company could find between the iPad Mini 3 and the iPad Mini 2. iFixit, which takes apart and examines gadgets and sells products to let users do likewise, gave the iPad Mini 3 a “repairability” score of 2 out of 10. That’s the same score it gave to the iPad Mini 2.
iFixit said the iPad Mini 3, like its predecessor, is difficult to take apart. Using heat to soften up the adhesive securing the iPad’s display, the iFixit reviewers used its own iOpener gadget around the perimeter of the iPad Mini 3 and used picks to separate the front panel from the rear case.
The testers said the cable in the iPad Mini 3 was “a bit of a nightmare” all by itself. “Apple’s system for implementing Touch ID seems to require launching about a year before it’s ready,” according to iFixit. “Remember the Touch ID cable in the iPhone 5s? And the much-improved placement in the iPhone 6?”
Hot glue was used to hold the home button bracket to the front panel of the Apple iPad Mini 3 that iFixit tested. The testers said that if the screen is cracked, it would be become extremely difficult to transfer that bracket — and with it, the programmed Touch ID — onto replacement glass. Also, any attempts to replace the screen could result in losing Touch ID functionality.
“Touch ID-equipped home button [is] hastily glued in place,” the iFixit testers wrote.
The testing found that varying amounts of adhesive were holding many components in place, including the front glass, battery, front camera, back camera, ribbon cables. All that glue would make repair extremely difficult, according to iFixit. Apple so far has not commented on iFixit’s look inside the iPad Mini 3.
iFixit also recently tore open an iPad Air 2 and found that Apple’s new iPad Air comes with a 15 percent smaller battery.
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