Our teardown engineer, the auspicious Andrew Goldberg, sits down with Gwendolyn Gay, host of iFixit’s YouTube channel, to explain the mysterious inner workings of the Force Touch trackpad. Check out the full video on our blog.
After Apple’s announcement of the new 12″ MacBook, with its shiny renders and pressure sensitive, haptic-feedback-equipped trackpad, we were expecting to find an identical trackpad implementation in the new MacBook Pro 13″ Retina. And we were surprised. While the MacBook-to-be looks like it’s going to feature a weight-saving “I” shape, with the four springy force sensors jutting out from a central beam, our teardown revealed that the new 13″ Pro’s implementation is quite different.
Apple’s “Spring Forward” event on Monday brought tantalizing teasers of tomorrow: A revolutionary new MacBook, details on their world-changing wearable, amazing new touchpad technology, and a couple of laptops from 2013. Today we bring you our findings on the last of these. Which is not to say the least of these.
If you think about it, the newest of the new Nintendo 3DS XL is basically a small laptop — one outfitted with a 3D screen, a touch screen, three cameras, a “floppy drive,” and the trifecta of CPU/RAM/Flash that seemingly makes up every electronic gadget nowadays. Well, we wanted to see exactly what makes this little laptop-ito tick. And the innards did not disappoint.
In terms of slim, manufacturers are having a tough time beating Apple’s MacBook Air. Dell’s new Air competitor, the XPS 13, may have missed the mark by a whole millimeter—but we weren’t too put off. Especially since the XPS is considerably smaller otherwise, and still manages to include a 13.3 inch high definition display that looks like it’s floating in midair. The insides definitely aren’t as polished or streamlined as in a MacBook Air, but you could convince us the XPS was an Air prototype.
A couple days ago, my boss, Kyle, handed me a plain brown box and asked if I knew Bunnie. You know, the guy who (literally) wrote the book on hacking the Xbox. Apparently, Bunnie Huang started a Crowd Supply-funded project to make an entirely open source computer—and iFixit backed the campaign. “And here’s the computer,” my boss said to me, “so go do something cool with it.” All right, then: Challenge accepted.
It lives in your home. It’s always listening. It’s the Amazon Echo, a voice-controlled smart speaker, and it’s the closest device yet to the computer in Star Trek. The Echo’s auditory assistant, called Alexa, seems more responsive than Siri—and it’s about on par with recent Apple fare on the repair front, too. But the Echo’s tricky construction makes disassembly a tad difficult without a manual, so the Amazon Echo earned itself a reasonable 7 out of 10 for repair.
The phablet war rages on. Close on the heels of Apple’s 5.5″ iPhone 6 Plus, Google brings us the 5.96″ Nexus 6. With the similar shape and size, we’re calling it the 6 Plus’ brother from an Android mother. The Nexus 6 is a solidly built phone, with high-end specs but not a lot of flashy new tech. It looks like repair was a consideration in the design, but not the top priority. As a result, the Nexus 6 matched the iPhone 6 Plus’ respectable 7-out-of-10 repairability score.
The Kindle Voyage is a dream come true for the avid Kindle user. But we are more interested in the construction and repairability of the Voyage, than the cool new features. Advancements like pressure-sensing buttons and ambient light sensors didn’t do much to hamper repair, but the new front panel glass and its fused display weren’t a fun find. That said, the Voyage is a solid device that doesn’t try too hard to keep fixers out. It earned a decent 7 out of 10 on the repairability scale.
Technology marches onward. Apple is refreshing huge swaths of its product line, with faster processors, more RAM, better cameras, and sleeker enclosures. Of course, one would expect the iPad Mini 3 to receive similar treatment. It’s now equipped with the A7 processor, 1 GB of RAM, and a 5 MP iSight camera. A year ago, your new iPad Mini with Retina Display only came with an A7 processor, 1 GB of RAM, and a 5 MP iSight camera… Oh well, but hey! It’s gold now.
The iPad Air 2 contains a fitting 2 GB of RAM, and has received a fitting 2 out of 10 repairability score—the same as last year’s Air. Yes, the Air 2’s fused glass/LCD should keep the broken glass shards more intact if the iPad takes a tumble. But it comes at a price, literally: Repairers now have to replace the entire display, hiking up the cost of repair. The Air 2 also has a slightly smaller battery and speakers than the Air 1, and a (physically) smaller rear camera than the iPhone 6 Plus.
Sometimes we just don’t understand what goes on in hardware designers’ heads. Apple took one of their most-fixable, most-upgradable products and broke it. Apple decided to throw us a repair curveball by preventing access to internals via T6 Torx Security screws. The second detriment is the now-soldered-on RAM. So whatever RAM your Mini came with, that’s the amount it’ll take to its grave. The 2014 Mini lost two repairability points, getting a 6 out of 10 on our scale.