Magic Trackpad dissected; repair infeasible

Magic Trackpad dissected; repair infeasible

Summary: Apple's new Magic Trackpad has few parts that can be replaced without potentially destroying the device. iFixIt tore it down to validate that claim -- all for your viewing pleasure.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Hardware, Apple
16

The good folks at iFixIt have taken apart the new Apple Magic Trackpad to see what makes it tick, or should I say "click?" In the process they observed that Apple's obsession with thin design doesn't translate well to "user serviceable," noting that the Magic Trackpad has few parts that can be replaced without potentially destroying the whole device.

Yes, the device was sacrificed in the name in science, but the result is a raft of photos that show the inner workings of one of Apple's most interesting accessories since the Magic Mouse. In addition to the teardown, they've also posted a video slideshow.

Some observations:

  • Repairing the components might be infeasible
  • They were impressed by everything Apple's engineers managed to stuff into the Trackpad.
  • This is one of the few Apple products where the battery is user serviceable.
  • The battery screw has square threads! While square threads have the highest mechanical efficiency of all lead screws, their difficulty of manufacturing makes them prohibitive for most applications. Kudos, Apple, for sweating the details.
  • After a good amount of quasi-non-destructive prying, the inner spacer can be removed from the trackpad. This spacer prevents the highly unlikely event of squeezing the lower panel against the logic board hard enough to damage it.
  • The ribbon cables are ridiculously thin and are stuck to the underside of the touch pad. If you plan on servicing your Trackpad, proceed with caution.
  • After using a heat gun to warm up the adhesive, the touch pad can be carefully pried off the aluminum chassis. This step is not for the faint of heart. A copious amount of heat, guitar picks, and plastic opening tools were required to make the touch pad budge.
  • The Magic Trackpad has a unique way of triggering the mouse button. As you press down on the top surface of the pad, the two rubber feet near its front edge push on a plate attached to the chassis. The plate squeezes the electronic mouse button switch, producing the characteristic "click."
  • At the heart of the Magic Trackpad's logic board lies a Broadcom BCM2042 for Bluetooth connectivity -- the same chip used by the Magic Mouse.
  • We also found a Broadcom BCM5974 touch screen controller chip that provides multi-touch functionality. This is the same chip you'll find in the iPhone, iPod Touch, and MacBook Air.

Magical images:

Topics: Hardware, Apple

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

16 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • It's a throw away world, and Apple can make

    much more money off a new pad then repair of a used one, so why make it repairable?
    John Zern
    • RE: Magic Trackpad dissected; repair infeasible

      @John Zern

      It's more a matter of cost efficiency.

      I fix stuff all the time.

      Somehow, a fix is never QUITE as good as the original.

      You'd need your own factory to have all the tools needed to re-fab a device perfectly.

      It's more cost efficient to recycle simple electronics than try to repair them.

      Mostly because to REALLY repair electronics you need an electronics engineer, who will then have to spend a couple hours tinkering... for what may end up being a one-off.

      It just costs too much to do.
      Jkirk3279
      • RE: Magic Trackpad dissected; repair infeasible

        @Jkirk3279 Speaking as an old Mac consultant who spent a few years inside Mac Pluses with a soldering iron you are correct. Just not worth a bench fee to 'fix' one of these even if you could.
        dheady@...
    • RE: Magic Trackpad dissected; repair infeasible

      @John Zern

      What world have you been living in, 'Throw away world" indeed! My RAZR isn't user repairable, the universal remote I had (before I got my Harmony) for my entertainment centre was a sealed and epoxy covered device. The throw away world has been around for decades. The labour for repairing these devices ($90 an hour in my case) is simply FAR too much and there would never be a reason to attempt it. When it wears out 4 years down the road there will be ZERO value to it and thus no value to making it repairable. Why people think Apple pioneered this I've no idea :D
      Win3.1
  • RE: Magic Trackpad dissected; repair infeasible

    Why should you want to fix something so nice and so cheap?
    rhon@...
    • RE: Magic Trackpad dissected; repair infeasible

      @rhon@... its neither nice nor cheap. Its a touchpad (touchpads suck), and its $70 which can buy you a upper mid range to high end gaming mouse that could do anything u ever wanted.
      Jimster480
  • RE: Magic Trackpad dissected; repair infeasible

    Apple's out of the box warranty is superb. If it breaks in the first year, take it to an Apple store. They will replace it. Most consumer electronics fail out of the box if they're going to fail within a normal lifespan. Try 'fixing' your car these days. The era of the backyard mechanic fixing the family sedan has passed as has the days of anyone even thinking of using a soldering iron on a bit of consumer electronics. Build your own PC from scrap parts at Fry's? Sure but you end up with a sCrappy PC too. The price point of this bit of Apple tech is such that the bench fee wouldn't justify just pitching it and buying a new one.
    dheady@...
    • RE: Magic Trackpad dissected; repair infeasible

      @dheady@... You can fix your car these days if you know about cars. its just more complicated. I know because I do it.
      Jimster480
      • RE: Magic Trackpad dissected; repair infeasible

        @Jimster480

        You seem to be misunderstanding the whole 'value' equation here. A 10 year old car will still be worth a few grand and thus be repairing just so long as the cost of repairs doesn't exceed it's value. A 10 year old trackpad will be obsolete and have zero value, thus not be worth repairing at all. The failure rate coupled with value makes serviceability a moot point on sub $100 electronics.
        Win3.1
    • RE: Magic Trackpad dissected; repair infeasible

      @dheady@...
      Beg to differ, there are NO scrap parts at Frys.
      Best, middle-of-the road, and low-end.
      Last 2 white boxes I built are 100% Frys. Because I wanted the best parts available and did not want to wait. No problems with either.
      I have to admit, it's not cost-effective any longer, but I did get exactly what I wanted.
      radu.m
      • Maybe not cost effective in the US...

        @radu.m
        But for those of us in the real world ;) DIY PCs are still most certainly cost-effective. Sure, there are new 'boat-anchor' PCs available that are fairly cheap, but they are also 1) Low-spec: obsolete on the shelf & 2) 1st job with them is re-format / reload to get all the crapware off / dick about with drivers. Oh, and then there's the PSUs: small, proprietry, expensive to replace. So no, cost-effectiveness is not really the name of the game: boat-anchors are fine for 12 months (maybe), otherwise DIY trumps in every other aspect (including the joy of making one yourself)...
        naibeeru
  • RE: Magic Trackpad dissected; repair infeasible

    As far as I can tell, there are no moving parts inside. The TrackPad will sit in one place a lot of the time, and it isn't like you're going to be attacking your beloved spouse with it.<br><br>The only way you're going to break this is if you aim at the spouse, s/he ducks and the Trackpad hits a solid object where your spouse's head was a moment before.<br><br>OR, there is a major manufacturing fault with it, in which case Apple will swap it out for you.
    sip01
  • I don't know if anyone has noticed...

    But for the most part ALL modern electronic devices don't have any user serviceable parts inside, with the exception of batteries. Apple certainly hasn't cornered the market on electronic devices that can't be feasibly repaired at the component level.
    www.dfwsupergeek.com
    unclefixer@...
    • RE: Magic Trackpad dissected; repair infeasible

      Some absolutely <a rel="follow" href="http://las-vilis.com/roulette/">online casino roulette</a> in place of <a rel="follow" href="http://las-vilis.com/videopoker/">videopoker online</a> count can be just before abstract <a rel="follow" href="http://las-vilis.com/roulette/">that</a> because an different.
      casinoonline
  • Not a very "green" device for sure

    I don't really get why Greenpeace give Apple the "green" status, maybe because Al Gore is on the board?
    MSFTWorshipper
  • This helped me fix my trackpad - thanks

    I managed to press too hard on the trackpad which caused the right hand button underneath to lose it's click and be permanently semi-pressed. Using a guitar pick I was able to prise the under side up with a little more confidence, this released the button and works fine now.
    kamak