We just flew Kyle, our CEO, to London so he could take apart the iPhone 3GS. The results are in, and here’s what we found:

  • Thankfully, opening the iPhone 3GS is as simple as the 3G. After removing two Phillips screws, the two halves of the phone are separated easily using a suction cup.
  • The iPhone is differentiated externally only by a new model number, A1303. The lettering on the back is now shiny, like the Apple logo.
  • The internal physical design is virtually identical to the iPhone 3G. A random passerby on the street would not know the difference. Heck, even we were struggling to differentiate the two.
  • The new graphics core should drastically improve performance, meaning Apple’s serious about the handheld gaming market.
  • There’s still a “Do not remove” sticker above the logic board. Naturally, we removed it.
  • Nearly all components have been relocated to the front side of the main PCB, including the Bluetooth, Wi–Fi, and Flash memory chips.
  • The battery is 4.51 Watt-hours, or 1219 mAh. That’s about 6% larger than the iPhone 3G’s battery. Hopefully the hardware runs more efficiently, since increased battery life will not come from the battery itself.
  • There is an additional antenna connection near the dock connector. We’re not sure what for just yet. However, we do love exploring these teasers… Stay tuned!
  • For those who are wondering about the fingerprint-resistant coating on their iPhone 3GS screen: The oleophobic, or oil-proof, technology evolved from waterproofing. Oil-proof technology is harder to achieve as oil has a much lower surface tension than water, so it spreads out easier and thus is harder to get rid off. MIT’s solution was to create a coating material which creates a layer of micro fibers, but with a much larger contact angle between the oil droplets and the fibers.

Some comments on usability of the 3GS:

  • Camera quality is much improved from the 3G. Close-up shots were possible down to about 5 cm, and the brightness adjusted well when picking a focus area.
  • The oleophobic screen does seem to clean slightly easier than the 3G’s normal screen.
  • Google Earth (duration of the spinning load wheel) (over Wi-Fi): 3GS: 4.9 sec; 3G: 22.2 sec. A bit faster than Apple’s claim of 2X speed improvement — although we know that one simple test of one application means little in the real world.

We’ll post more notes on the hardware as we analyze it further.

iPhone 3GS teardown

iPhone 3GS parts

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