Last week, we tore down Apple’s newest iPad offering: the iPad 5. But as our teardown showed, the new iPad isn’t all that new. Sure, it got a major hardware boost from the faster A9 processor—but the new iPad is mostly just an updated original iPad Air.

2017 iPad vs iPad Air

Take a look at the Air 1 and iPad 5 respectively. Not much has changed. The Air 1 is dressed in Space Grey, and has a slightly larger Wi-Fi module. The iPad 5 is in silver. They’re pretty identical.

The news sparked a lot of questions from our community members about compatibility across models. Would the iPad 5 accept parts from its Air predecessors? Or vice-versa?

iPad 5 questions

A few of our community’s lingering questions about the teardown. Notice a running theme here?

So, to answer all your questions, I raided our warehouse of Air 1 and Air 2 parts to find out which were compatible with the 2017 iPad and which were not. Here are the results of my testing:

iPad 5 Part

Compatible?

Notes

Digitizer

Air 1

This is great news! Digitizers/front glass panels are the most commonly damaged components, so it’s good to see that this part is already available at a reasonable price.

Home Button + Bracket

No

We knew swapping home buttons would mean a loss of Touch ID, but this confirms the protocol for Air 1 home buttons and iPad 5 home buttons are totally different and don’t allow for any communication.

LCD

Kind of

An iPad 5 LCD will work in an iPad Air 1 (and actually give it a brightness boost). An Air 1 LCD in an iPad 5 also works, but the display was very dim (~200 nits versus an expected ~440 nits). And the left edge had weird backlight bleed (see photo).

Headphone Jack

Air 1

Fits and functions perfectly. The only weirdness is that the press connector has a loop of tape securing it to the logic board, and to disconnect this connector you must rip the tape.

Front-Facing Camera

No

The similarly-spec’d Air 2 camera causes a bootloop

Rear-Facing Camera

Air 2

Fits and functions perfectly.

Battery

Air 1

Untested, but they have the same model number and the same specs.

Microphone Assembly

Air 1

Fits and functions perfectly, although most replacement parts are missing the foam over the microphone that supports the front-facing camera.

Volume and Power Buttons

No

This part lacks the lock switch from the Air 1, and is completely different from the Air 2’s component.

Left Antenna

Air 1

We didn’t fully install this part, but tested its functionality by connecting to a Wi-Fi network, and it looks like it will fit without issues.

Adhesive Strips

Air 1

We lined them up and they fit the iPad 5’s rear enclosure nicely.

Lightning Connector

N/A

Untested

Left + Right Speakers

N/A

Untested

Right Antenna

N/A 

Untested

Here’s a few pictures of the testing process along the way:

Testing the antenna

iPad 5 compatibility tests

An Air 1 LCD in an iPad 5. It works, but is noticeably dim and the left edge has backlight bleed.

This compatibility list is by no means canon. As with all repair parts, your mileage may vary depending on your distributor. So we encourage you to do your own testing and fill us in on your findings, especially if they differ from ours. In the meantime, if availability of repair parts left you on the fence about this iPad iteration, you can rest easy knowing that a new digitizer or battery is just a click away.

Evan is a photographer and technical writer for iFixit. When he's not saving the world from poor lighting and incorrect grammar, he identifies chips, tears down tech, and writes repair guides.

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