iPhone 4 Verizon teardown reveals RF redesigns

Summary:The guys at iFixit have got their hands on a Verizon CDMA iPhone 4 and done what they're known for ... taken it apart! And this teardown has revealed some interesting changes. The Verizon iPhone 4 is no ordinary iPhone 4.

The guys at iFixit have got their hands on a Verizon CDMA iPhone 4 and done what they're known for ... taken it apart! And this teardown has revealed some interesting changes. The Verizon iPhone 4 is no ordinary iPhone 4.

How different? According to iFixit's CEO Kyle Weins "the differences are more significant than we saw between the iPhone 3G and the 3GS."

So what's changed? Well, for starters, the location and design of the RF components—EMI (electromagnetic interference) shields, connector locations, even board layout—is changed.

Also updated is the They redesigned the vibrator motor. A small item but a part that takes up a large amount of space inside the phone. One iFixit tester said that the "Verizon vibration was quieter, a little softer to feel, and made a better sound on the table."

But there's more! Apple is using the same Qualcomm chip as the Droid Pro 'World Phone.' The Qualcomm MDM6600 chip supports HSPA+ data rates of up to 14.4 Mbps and CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Rev. A/Rev. B.

Note: The datasheet can be downloaded here.

This chipset inside the Verizon iPhone 4 supports both GSM and CDMA, which means that, in theory, Apple could have supported GSM with this handset, but chose not to. Why? One possible explanation is that is was easier to design antennas for a CDMA-only phone. This phone supports two cellular frequency bands, while Apple supports five bands in the GSM version. But antenna aside, this is a sure sign that Apple may be considering unifying the CDMA and GSM iPhones in the future.

Here are the highlights:

  • The iPhone 4's vibrator received a complete makeover. Rather than using a rotational electric motor with a counterweight, the Verizon iPhone appears to utilize a linear oscillating vibrator for call/message alerts.
  • The phone uses a Qualcomm MDM6600 chip -- the same package that's being used in the Droid Pro world phone.
  • iFixit believe that the additional notch in the antenna enclosure on the right side of the phone is a result of the switch from GSM to CDMA. An antenna's operating frequency is directly dependent on its size and geometry, so the change-up required an antenna overhaul.
  • The display assembly appeared to be identical to that of the GSM iPhone 4 at first glance. Upon further investigation, the mounting tabs are in drastically different locations for the two display assemblies. Sadly, this means the two assemblies are definitely not interchangeable.
  • The battery is listed as the same 5.25 watt-hour capacity, but does have a new model number (616-0520). The new battery also weighs less; it shrunk from 26.9 grams to 25.6 grams.
  • Apple used custom molded rubber pads between the chips and the EMI shields presumably to conduct heat and quell any interference between analog and digital circuitry.
  • Like the Apple TV, there is an interesting set of unused solder pads near the edge of the logic board. These were likely used for testing during development.
  • Big players on the logic board include:  - Apple A4 Processor  - Qualcomm MDM6600 CDMA/GSM chip   - Toshiba TH58NVG7D2FLA89 16 GB NAND Flash  - Cirrus Logic CLI1495B0 Audio Codec (38S0589)  - Texas Instruments Touchscreen controller (343S0499)  - Skyworks power amplifier modules for CDMA/PCS (SKY77711-4 and SKY77710-4)
  • Since the SIM card and SIM tray were the only user-serviceable parts in the AT&T iPhone 4. Sadly, now the Verizon iPhone officially "does not contain any user-serviceable parts."

Topics: Hardware, Apple, iPhone, Mobility, Verizon

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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