The Unauthorized Guide to iPhone, iPad, and iPod Repair (2013)
Chapter 8. iPad 2nd Generation Disassembly and Reassembly
The iPad 2 is a bit of an anomaly in the Apple iPad family. The 2nd generation iPad is thinner, lighter, and faster than the 1st generation model, but it does not sport the Retina display of the 3rd and 4th generations. The introduction of the 3rd gen iPad in March 2012 let us know that Apple planned a reliable yearly refresh cycle for the iPad platform.
But what happened? Spend a moment or two analyzing Table 8.1, which compares the different models.
TABLE 8.1 Comparison Among the Various Full-Sized iPad Models
Not only did Apple release the 4th generation iPad a mere seven months after it gave us the 3rd gen model, but it also promptly discontinued the 3rd gen and retained the iPad 2! What’s up with that?
Apple will never tell, but I have my suspicions. For my money, the biggest driver in Apple’s decision to fast track the 4th gen iPad had to do with migrating the buying public to the new Lightning interface. We discuss the Lightning connector in great detail in Chapter 17, “Replacing the Logic Board and/or Dock Connector.”
Furthermore, Apple has been tremendously obtuse in its iPad naming conventions (or lack thereof). The iPad 2 has a reasonable enough name. However, how can you quickly determine which iPad you are dealing with given the following official product names:
1st generation: iPad
2nd generation: iPad 2
3rd generation: The New iPad
4th generation: iPad with Retina Display
Crazy, isn’t it? At least you can easily identify the 4th generation model by observing its anodized aluminum rear case and Lightning connector.
Figures 8.1 through 8.4 show you the external structure of the 2nd generation iPad.
FIGURE 8.1 iPad 2nd generation top view.
FIGURE 8.2 iPad 2nd generation front view.
FIGURE 8.3 iPad 2nd generation rear view.
FIGURE 8.4 iPad 2nd generation bottom view.
The biggest news for you from a disassembly perspective is that, beginning with the iPad 2, Apple began affixing the front panel assembly to the rest of the case by using copious (and I do mean copious) amounts of adhesive. This is in stark contrast to the first generation iPad, whose front panel is attached to the rear case by easy-to-remove clips.
Caution: Buck Up, Campers
Speaking candidly, removing the front glass panel presents a near-insurmountable challenge for all but the most die-hard of DIY’ers. As I write this paragraph I have an iPad 2 next to me on my workbench with a completely demolished (think spider webbed) front glass. The gorilla glass is exceedingly unforgiving—if you apply just a smidge too much pressure, the display cracks and you need to order a replacement.
The ironic part is that after you’ve removed the front panel, the rest of the disassembly is easy. You will doubtless be impressed with how much empty space exists inside a full-sized iPad. The components that are present are arranged to make your access exceptionally easy and satisfying.
Heat gun or iFixit iOpener
iFixit “guitar picks” or general thin guitar picks
Phillips #00 screwdriver
Plastic and metal spudgers
Metal and plastic opening tools
Tweezers or needle-nose pliers
1. As I mentioned earlier, I cannot overstate how difficult it is to remove the front panel assembly of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation iPads.
2. Use the iOpener or a heat gun to loosen the adhesive as much as you can. Place the iOpener along the perimeter of the iPad’s front panel for a few minutes. Remove the iOpener. Use a plastic opening tool to pry up the front glass from the black plastic bezel. Be sure you are wedging the opener tool between the glass and bezel and not between the bezel and the rear case—this is a common rookie mistake.
3. As you can see in Figure 8.5, you want to use one of your guitar picks to create an opening after you’ve cracked open the iPad just a tiny amount.
FIGURE 8.5 Using a guitar pick to shim the iPad 2 front display assembly.
4. As you pry up the front panel, watch out for “trouble spots.” When you run your guitar pick around the perimeter of the iPad to break the adhesive, you need to pay attention to three special locations:
Top center of the case (for iPads with carrier network capability)
Bottom center/center right of the case (Wi-Fi antenna is located to the right of the Home button)
Lower-left corner of the case (digitizer cable)
I’ve called out these three trouble spots in Figure 8.6.
FIGURE 8.6 iPad display “trouble spots.” Note also the location of the four LCD retaining screws.
5. When you lift the front panel assembly, flip it over and lay it to the immediate left of the iPad. The front panel is still connected to the rest of the iPad by the digitizer cable in the lower-left corner.
6. Take your trusty screwdriver in hand and remove the four Phillips screws to detach the LCD from the rear case. I’ve circled the locations of the screws in Figure 8.6. You can then carefully flip over the LCD and lay it down on top of the front glass assembly. At this point your iPad 2 is more or less an electronic “open book,” both literally and figuratively speaking!
7. The digitizer ribbon cables don’t have copper contacts; instead, they are held into two zero insertion force (ZIF) sockets by means of tiny retaining flaps. Use your plastic opening tool to lift the flaps as shown in Figure 8.7, and then carefully pull the digitizer cable out of the sockets. You need to peel back some black Kapton tape in the process as well.
FIGURE 8.7 Detaching the digitizer cable.
8. After you’ve disconnected the digitizer cable, you can temporarily put the LCD back into the iPad 2. Carefully set the front panel assembly to the side. Our next task is to disconnect the LCD.
9. Use your plastic opening tool to lift the display data cable lock clip (see Figure 8.8). Next, pull the display data cable away from its socket.
FIGURE 8.8 Detaching the LCD data cable.
10. You can now remove the LCD from the iPad. Set it aside.
Note: Stop to Admire the Battery Cells
Spend a moment to take in the majesty of the triple battery cells inside the iPad. It’s quite a wonder, isn’t it? I discuss these Li-ion batteries in great detail in Chapter 16, “Replacing the Battery.”
11. Use your trusty plastic opening tool to lift up the black piece of tape covering the end of the dock connector cable. Next, carefully pry up the edge of the dock connector’s...well...cable connector (see Figure 8.9). You can then peel the connector ribbon cable partially off the rear panel.
FIGURE 8.9 Detaching the Dock connector ribbon cable.
12. By lifting up the dock connector cable, you have exposed the speaker cable connector. Use the plastic opening tool to carefully pry the connector upward (see Figure 8.10).
FIGURE 8.10 Detaching the speaker cable connector.
Caution: Patience, Grasshopper
Be mindful to pry up only the connector and not the socket itself when you remove any iDevice connector components. Be gentle and take your time!
13. There are still two cables attached to the logic board—the headphone jack/front camera cable and the control board cable. Use a plastic opening tool to flip up the retaining flap on the headphone jack/front camera cable ZIF socket. Peel the cable off the rear case, but do not remove it just yet. Pull the headphone jack/front camera cable straight out of its socket. In a similar manner, disconnect the control board cable connector from the logic board. Now, turn your attention to removing the logic board. Start by removing the two Phillips #00 screws holding down the logic board bracket (see Figure 8.11). Remove the logic board bracket. Next, remove the three Phillips #00 screws securing the other side of the logic board (see Figure 8.12).
FIGURE 8.11 Removing the smaller logic board bracket.
FIGURE 8.12 Removing the larger logic board bracket.
The rest of the procedure, although easy, is nonetheless befuddling to me. I must confess that in all my experience and research, I’ve never seen any acknowledgement that the iPad 2 has (at least) two different connector structures for the logic board. To illustrate my point, first take a look at the logic board connections from iFixit’s iPad 2 guide (http://is.gd/udjHJJ) shown in Figure 8.13.
FIGURE 8.13 iFixit’s perspective of the iPad 2 logic board connector cables. (Photo courtesy of ifixit.com.)
Now, contrast what you just saw with the connector configuration on my own iPad 2, which is shown in Figure 8.14.
FIGURE 8.14 Tim’s perspective of the iPad 2 logic board connector cables.
Isn’t that strange? iFixit refers to my iPad as the iPad 2.4, and it clearly represents an unannounced revision to the iPad structure. iFixit is working on a guide for the iPad 2.4; be sure to re-visit iFixit.com regularly to check for updates.
Well, friends, this is my book so we are going to use my iPad.
14. Use your plastic opening tool to remove the black tape covering the connector.
15. Use tweezers or needle-nose pliers to remove the data cable from its ZIF socket, as shown in Figure 8.15.
FIGURE 8.15 Disconnecting the logic board connector cables.
16. You can now wiggle the logic board out of the iPad’s rear case (see Figure 8.16). However, don’t yank out the logic board entirely! If you carefully flip the logic board over (the side nearest to the Home button) you will find the Wi-Fi antenna connector still attached (see Figure 8.17). You need to use a plastic opening tool to pry the Wi-Fi antenna connector.
FIGURE 8.16 Removing the iPad 2 logic board.
FIGURE 8.17 Disconnecting the Wi-Fi antenna connector from the logic board.
To hedge your bet, you should obtain some adhesive strips to assist you in re-laying the front panel assembly back onto the rear case. Many iDevice technicians swear by the 3M 300LSE low surface energy adhesive transfer tape, but you can cut strips from just about any double-sided adhesive tape.
If you cracked the glass while taking apart your iPad (or if the screen was broken for some other reason), please take the time to remove every particle of glass from the chassis. I know that this seems like an obvious point, but in my experience it is sometimes the obvious points that get overlooked in the heat of the moment.
Consider wearing Nitrile gloves when you work to prevent the transmission of finger oils to metal components. Alternatively, use your tweezers or needle-nose pliers to hold components and wipe ‘em off with a microfiber cloth.
Speaking of microfiber, make sure to wipe the LCD free of dust and fingerprints before you replace the front glass/digitizer. Believe me, you will regret it if you forget this step!
What Exactly Is a Retina Display?
Apple introduced its so-called “Retina display” in the iPhone 4S and the 3rd generation iPad. I’m including this discussion in this chapter because the Retina display is conspicuously absent in the iPad 2.
The first thing you need to understand is that “Retina” is an Apple marketing term and has no basis in industry standards. According to Apple, a Retina display packs picture elements (pixels, the smallest unit of a display) so tightly together that the human eye cannot discern individual pixels at a normal viewing distance.
Again, according to Apple, the threshold for human perception of individual pixels is a pixel density of approximately 300 pixels per inch. The iPhone 4S has a default pixel density of 326 pixels/inch. The 3rd generation iPad has a pixel density of 264 pixels/inch. However, the average viewing distance with the iPad is generally longer than that of the iPhone. Specifically, the average viewing distance for the iPhone is 10″, compared to 15″ for the iPad.
Screen resolution matters as well. Recall that the resolution of the iPhone 4S is 960×640, compared to 2048×1536 for the 4th generation iPad.
From a non-mathematical and eminently subjective human viewpoint, however, does the Retina display actually make a difference? In my humble opinion, I submit that it does. Try this experiment if you are fortunate enough to have access to a 3rd or 4th generation iPad as well as an iPad 2: Use the later gen iPad every day for a week and then abruptly switch over the iPad 2. If your experience mirrors mine, you will instantly (and unpleasantly) detect the pixelization of the iPad 2’s display. It’s quite noticeable. You’ll find that the iPhone 3GS display (163 pixels/inch) is so blocky it’s almost unusable.
As you learn in Chapter 10, “iPad mini Disassembly and Reassembly,” the 1st generation iPad mini did not include Retina technology. This is surprising to me, but I’m sure it had to do with keeping the material cost as low as possible. It will be interesting to see if Apple incorporates Retina in the 2nd gen iPad mini. Many industry insiders find this prospect doubtful, because, to include Retina, Apple needs to boost battery capacity; this goes against the “mini” design spec of that iDevice.