Apple is filling out their touchscreen device lineup just in time for Christmas. The iPod Touch has been extremely popular with families, and we expect the iPad Mini will be a big hit with kids. But what will happen to the glass when they hit it with the full force of their childlike glee? We took apart the new iPad Mini to find out just how durable and repairable it is.

This product continues Apple’s design pattern of creating devices with built-in consumables that are challenging to replace. Relative to the $329 price, Apple’s $99 battery replacement program is very expensive. Without regular battery replacements, the iPad Mini is doomed to the same 2-3 year maximum lifespan that the iPad has. Apple has not stated whether the iPad Mini’s battery has the same 1000 cycles rating as the iPad or the 400 cycle (12-18 month) capacity of the iPhone. With that in mind, we’re working on improved techniques to disassemble iPads.

Teardown highlights:

* We can confirm the iPad Mini has stereo speakers, no matter what Amazon says.

* We had to do some sleuthing to find some of the screws on this thing–several tiny screws were hidden underneath covers and inside crevices.

* In an odd typographic quality lapse, the kerning of the laser-etched serial number on our unit is quite poor.

* Apple wasn’t joking about “mini”; this iPad contains some of the smallest screws we have ever seen!

* Apple has reportedly been working to move away from Samsung as a primary supplier, so it’s somewhat surprising to see a Samsung chip driving the LCD. We cannot 100% confirm that this display is made by Samsung, although it seems likely. Apple could be multi-sourcing this component, since supply chain reports indicate that AU Optronics and LG are providing displays.

* The battery is a large, single 16.5 Whr cell.

* Components:

  • Apple A5 processor—same as the latest iPod Touch, with 512 MB RAM
  • Murata 339S0171 Wi-Fi, same as the iPhone 5.
  • Multi-chip Broadcom BCM5976 touchscreen controllers
  • Hynix H2JTDG8UD2MBR 16 GB NAND Flash

Repairability score: 2 out of 10. The screen is glued to the case. The battery is glued down. The logic board is really glued down. The headphone jack is glued in. The only good news is that the LCD is not fused to the front glass.

This iPad was delivered a bit early up the road from us in Berkeley. We’d like to thank friend-of-iFixit, the ever perspicacious Jeff Atwood, for helping us get our hands on it.

For more iPad Mini guts and glory, check out the full teardown.

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