The Unauthorized Guide to iPhone, iPad, and iPod Repair (2013)
Chapter 10. iPad mini Disassembly and Reassembly
Seven-inch tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with the iPad. —Steve Jobs
The irony is delicious, I think, that when Tim Cook’s Apple decided to make a smaller tablet after all, they went with a 7.9-inch diagonal screen size. Perhaps the extra 0.9 inches makes all the difference?
At any rate, I must tell you in all candor that I absolutely love my iPad mini. In point of fact, I have barely touched my full-sized iPad 3rd generation since I received my mini in the mail in late 2012.
Why do I love the iPad mini so much? Let me enumerate its major points from my personal perspective:
The mini provides the full iPad experience in a smaller form factor.
To the previous point, I can hold this iPad easily with one hand.
The mini is a much more enjoyable e-reader than the full-sized iPad.
The mini has stereo speakers.
The mini is optimized for traveling and toting in small compartments.
Table 10.1 summarizes the iPad mini specifications.
TABLE 10.1 iPad mini Specifications
Apple has taken quite a few steps to prevent do-it-yourselfers from attempting their own repair work on the iPad mini. On the other hand, I found the disassembly of the mini to be easier overall (at least in the initial stages) than with the full-sized iPads.
Without any further ado, let’s get rocking and rolling!
From an external design standpoint, the iPad mini looks like a scaled-down 4th generation iPad. Figures 10.1 through 10.4 identify the key external components of the iPad mini.
FIGURE 10.1 iPad mini top view.
FIGURE 10.2 iPad mini front view. (Photo courtesy of ifixit.com.)
FIGURE 10.3 iPad mini rear view.
FIGURE 10.4 iPad mini bottom view.
Heat gun or iFixit iOpener
iFixit “guitar picks” (you can also use traditional, thin-gauge guitar picks if you have them handy)
Metal and/or plastic spudger
Plastic opening tools
Tweezers or needle-nosed pliers
Phillips #0 screwdriver
1. Use the iOpener or the heat gun to loosen the adhesive and then slide multiple “guitar picks” beneath the glass to create a wedge (see Figure 10.5). Next, run the guitar picks around the perimeter of the case until all the adhesive seals are broken.
FIGURE 10.5 Prying loose the display and digitizer.
Tip: iPad mini Screen Removal Is Tougher
As I’ve said in previous iPad teardowns, I cover the step-by-step behind iPad screen removal in Chapter 15, “Replacing the Front Display and/or Rear Case.” However, you should know that it is easier to lift the front panel assembly on the iPad mini than it is with the full-sized iPads. I’m not exactly sure why this is the case (pun intended). There is certainly less adhesive, which goes a long way to explain the situation.
2. After you’ve broken through the adhesive, carefully lift the front panel assembly. As shown in Figure 10.6, do so from the top (front-facing camera) side, and lift the front panel assembly toward the bottom (Home button). Remember, the digitizer cable is still connected to the logic board.
FIGURE 10.6 Lifting up the display assembly.
3. Flip the front panel assembly over like you would open and lay flat the cover of a book.
4. Unseat the LCD. Use your Phillips #0 screwdriver to remove the four screws that are shown in Figure 10.7.
FIGURE 10.7 Remove the four screws that hold the LCD to the iPad mini rear case.
Tip: Check Under the Foam
You will find that at least two of the screws are covered (hidden might be a better term to describe it) with small wedges of foam. Carefully peel those off the screws with tweezers and be sure to replace the foam during reassembly.
5. Use a spudger to begin to lift the LCD as shown in Figure 10.8. You need to wiggle the bottom (Home button side) of the LCD to get it to stand up straight, and then ultimately lie flat on top of the display assembly. Work slowly and carefully. You will feel some resistance as the LCD snaps through the adhesive and bends some black Kapton tape.
FIGURE 10.8 Lifting the LCD.
6. Surprise! The iPad mini includes a big ol’ midplate, just like the ones that you’ve come to know and love in the iPod touch line. What’s more, Apple ridiculously over-engineered the midplate, securing it with 16 screws (shown in Figure 10.9). The purpose of the midplate is ostensibly to combat electromagnetic interference (EMI), but we know Apple’s history of warding off us do-it-yourselfers.
FIGURE 10.9 This midplate separates the LCD and front panel assembly from the battery and logic board.
7. Use a plastic opening tool or spudger to dislodge the midplate from the top (front-facing camera) side of the iPad mini. You might have to wiggle the midplate before it comes off completely (see Figure 10.10).
FIGURE 10.10 Removing the midplate.
8. Figure 10.11 shows the internal layout of the iPad mini. Basically you have three main areas:
Big ol’ battery, the specifics of which are covered in Chapter 16, “Replacing the Battery.”
Slim logic board.
Peripheral components that are attached to the logic board.
FIGURE 10.11 The interior anatomy of the iPad mini.
9. Use your trusty screwdriver to remove the three screws that hold down yet another EMI shield (see Figure 10.12). This shield covers the display cable connectors and Wi-Fi antenna connectors.
FIGURE 10.12 Removing the EMI shield that covers the display connectors.
10. Turn your attention to removing the LCD. Use your plastic opening tool or a spudger to pry the “pop” connector from its socket that leads to the LCD (see Figure 10.13).
FIGURE 10.13 Disconnecting the LCD from the logic board.
Caution: Abundant Adhesive Ahead
Be warned: There is a copious amount of adhesive and black tape that you need to cut and/or peel back, as the case may be.
Note: What’s That Connector?
Notice that the LCD cable connector lies on top of another connector. The second connector is how the digitizer links to the logic board (see Figure 10.14); you deal with that bad boy momentarily.
FIGURE 10.14 Lifting the LCD cable reveals the digitizer connector cable hidden underneath.
11. Carefully remove the LCD from the rest of the iPad mini and set it aside (see Figure 10.15).
FIGURE 10.15 The disconnected LCD. That black piece in the lower middle of the LCD panel is a remnant of tape, not a separate connector.
Tip: Watch Out for Fingerprints
Try to handle the LCD as little as possible to limit fingerprints on the display. Keep a microfiber cloth handy to ensure a streak-free reassembly. Gloves help in this regard as well.
12. Use your plastic opening tool to disconnect the digitizer cable connector. However, there is more to the story. As it happens, you need to peel back the black tape behind the digitizer cable connector. As you can see in Figure 10.16, doing so reveals a larger microcontroller that is, in turn, connected to the front panel by means of a longer ribbon cable.
FIGURE 10.16 Exposing the digitizer microcontroller and connector. The tape has been peeled back to expose the component.
13. After you peel back the tape, you can actually use your fingers (preferably gloved) to disconnect the microcontroller and prepare the front panel for removal (see Figure 10.17). You might have to apply some heat to the area immediately surrounding the microcontroller to loosen the adhesive that holds it to the back plate. You will also doubtless need to peel more black tape and cut through additional adhesive.
FIGURE 10.17 Preparing to remove the digitizer cable from the iPad mini.
14. As you can see in Figure 10.18, the Home button assembly resides on the front panel assembly, along with the contact points. When you remove the front panel assembly, the Home button assembly is along for the ride. With other iPads, only the button itself resides on the front panel; the “guts” of the Home button’s mechanical operation remain on the rear case.
FIGURE 10.18 Removing the front panel assembly from the iPad mini rear case.
15. Disconnecting the battery in the iPad mini is straightforward enough. Simply use your plastic opening tool to pry up the battery connector. The connector is shown in Figure 10.19. Note that the connector is topped with a small piece of foam; be sure to remove the connector and not the foam itself.
FIGURE 10.19 Disconnecting the iPad mini battery.
Caution: Removing the Battery Is Another Kettle of Fish
Removing the battery itself is another issue entirely. The amount of adhesive holding the battery to the rear case is significant enough that you need to use your heat gun to heat the outside of the rear case directly to give yourself any possibility of removing the battery. This is a dangerous proposition indeed, and I skipped those steps for the purposes of this chapter. That having been said, those folks who are brave enough to attempt this repair can find more than adequate tutorials online. For example,http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Installing+ipad+mini+CDMA+Battery/12413/1 for the iPad mini is a good case in point.
Tip: Logically, the Logic Board Is Glued in Place
I don’t attempt to show you how to remove the logic board in this chapter. The main reason is that, believe it or not, Apple glued the logic board to the rear case. Again, the way to approach removal is to apply heat from your heat gun to the rear side of the case itself. Crazy, isn’t it? I cover replacing logic boards in iDevices in Chapter 17, “Replacing the Logic Board and/or the Dock Connector.”
16. The upper assembly components (headphone jack, front-facing camera, rear-facing camera, Sleep/Wake button, lock switch, and volume controls all feed into the logic board by means of a tape/adhesive-secured ribbon cable (see Figure 10.20).
FIGURE 10.20 The upper assembly components connect to the logic board by means of a single ribbon cable.
17. At the bottom of the iPad mini is the Lightning connector and (awesome!) stereo speakers! Unfortunately, the Lightning connector is soldered directly to the logic board, as shown in Figure 10.21. This means that to replace the Lightning connector you must replace the entire logic board.
FIGURE 10.21 How the Lightning connector and speakers connect to the logic board.
Figure 10.22 shows the requisite “blowout” shot of the fully disassembled iPad mini.
FIGURE 10.22 The iPad mini, fully disassembled.
You probably won’t need to use adhesive strips to reseat the front panel assembly. I found that the fit and finish is such that the display popped right back into place with a minimum of force.
Make sure you don’t snag any ribbon cables when you reseat the LCD and front panel assembly.
As you doubtless observed, there are many metal-to-metal contact surfaces in the mini. Therefore, consider wearing nitrile gloves and/or wiping down these surfaces during your reassembly.
Remember to replace the foam “covers” on the LCD screws.
What Are Benchmarks?
The following is Wikipedia’s definition of benchmark as it relates to computing:
In computing, a benchmark is the act of running a computer program, a set of programs, or other operations, in order to assess the relative performance of an object, normally by running a number of standard tests and trials against it. Benchmarks provide a method of comparing the performance of various subsystems across different chip/system architectures.
For your purposes, benchmark studies are useful because you can use their results to compare the relative performance of the following device types:
iDevices within a single class (for instance, comparing iPhone 4S to iPhone 5)
iDevices across classes (for instance, iPhone 5 to iPad 3rd generation)
iDevices with other platforms (for instance, comparing iOS devices to Apple’s competitors)
Some benchmark tests concentrate on hardware performance exclusively. Other benchmark tests examine the performance of particular apps on different hardware.
Please note that there isn’t a single (or even a group) of industry-standard benchmarking sources. Essentially anybody can run benchmark tests with iDevice hardware. What’s important is that you need to standardize the tests you run as much as possible to ensure that the results are reliable.
To that end, there are benchmarking apps available to help you perform your own benchmark studies:
Geekbench 2 (http://is.gd/NaqEBL)
Gensystek Benchmark (http://is.gd/Xm8BQU)
As you know, receiving data presented by websites is a matter of trust. The following list offers a number of sources for iDevice benchmark studies that are widely cited within the industry:
Passmark Benchmarks (http://is.gd/ubvNRa)