iPad 4 teardown: Pretty much the same as the iPad 3

There's not an awful lot to distinguish the iPad 4 from the iPad 3, except for the upgraded Lightning port, and an A6X processor that promises to be twice as fast as the A5X found in the iPad 3.

Not only did Apple unveil the new iPad mini at last month's press event, the technology giant also surprised us by releasing a refreshed full-sized iPad with Retina display, dubbed already the iPad 4.

The team at iFixit have got their hands on an iPad 4 fresh off the production line and have taken it apart so we can see how it differs from the iPad 3.

The iPad 3 was only unveiled back in March of this year, so it's a bit much to expect this refresh to bring a lot of changes to the table, but there's enough to make this a compelling upgrade.

Externally, the biggest change is that the 30-pin dock connector has been replaced with the new 8-pin Lightning connector, the same as found on the iPhone 5, iPad mini, and the fifth-generation iPod touch. Because there's plenty of space inside the iPad, the Lightning connector sits in a frame the same size as the 30-pin dock connector.

As is becoming the norm for Apple, the iPad 4 is held together with copious amounts of adhesive , making repairs difficult, nigh on impossible.

However, instead of being presented with a Samsung liquid crystal display (LCD) screen as found in the iPad 3, the iPad 4's display was instead manufactured by LG Display. Due to the legal spat between the two companies, Apple has reportedly been working to move away from Samsung as a primary supplier, so an LG display is not that surprising.

That said, Apple often uses multiple suppliers for a single component, meaning there are likely other LCD manufacturers used on other iPad 4 units.

Inside the iPad 4 is a 1.2-megapixel front-facing FaceTime HD camera with the ability to shoot 720p high-definition video. This is a massive improvement over the 0.3-megapixel FaceTime camera in the iPad 3. Physically, the new camera is actually slightly thicker by 0.4 millimeters, but it still manages to squeeze into the same space.

Inside the iPad 4 are a myriad of chips, memory units and semiconductors, including an Apple A6X processor (red box), Hynix 16GB NAND flash memory (orange box), among other audio and power management chips.

The A6X processor is a huge upgrade over the A5X found in the iPad 3 , and is up to twice as fast as the previous-generation chip. It also includes a significant graphics processing unit (GPU) upgrade, making the iPad 4 a beyond-suitable device for gaming with.

Processor and new dock connector aside, the iPad 4 is more of as minor upgrade than a full-blown iPad refresh. However, those who only bought an iPad 3 this year are likely to feel just a little bit annoyed that Apple decided to bring out a newer tablet after just over seven months.

iFixit has given the iPad 4 a reparability score of two out of 10 (where 10 is easiest to repair). Apple's extensive use of glue and sticky tape makes the unit hard to take apart, the LCD panel is easy to shatter when removing, and the fact that you can't access the front panel's connector until you remove the LCD are all black marks against the device.

How Apple makes products difficult -- and expensive -- to repair

Image sources: iFixit.


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