A teardown analysis of the new iPad mini, performed by iFixit, has found some expected features, like Apple’s newest A12 Bionic chip paired with three gigabytes of RAM, along with some surprises like True Tone sensors and a different type of battery.
On the outside, Apple’s smallest fifth-generation tablet looks virtually indistinguishable from its predecessor, save for a few tiny design changes and a new model number A2133.
After three and a half years without a refresh, the iPad Mini has awoken from its slumber with some updated internals. Despite appearances, our teardown confirms that this is not just a shrunken-down version of the new iPad Air—it’s a reworked iPad Mini 4, with some fresh silicon for 2019.
The iPad mini 5 has the same 7.9-inch LED-backlit Retina screen at a 2,048-by-1,536 pixel resolution like its predecessor. And like iPad mini 4, the new one files as Apple’s sharpest tablet screen at 326 pixels per inch (other iPads have a pixel density of 246 pixels per inch).
This time around, the mini has True Tone technology that uses ambient light sensors to continuously match the display’s color temperature to the current lighting conditions.
While the new mini has the same battery capacity like its predecessor at 19.1 watt-hours, it’s much easier to service now because Apple is using a new battery connector design that automatically disconnects before you can unplug the display, a design solution that iFixit says should make the dreaded blown backlight a thing of the past.
Here’s an overview of the other changes:
- The new iPad mini is powered by Apple’s newest A12 Bionic chip with three gigabytes of RAM, up from two gigabytes of RAM in the previous model.
- The new mini works with the first-generation Apple Pencil.
- The relocated microphones are now centered near the camera.
- The eight-megapixel rear camera is mostly the same as before.
- The selfie camera saw a major upgrade from the old 1.2-megapixel sensor to a seven-megapixel ƒ/2.2 one. This camera first appeared in the 10.5-inch iPad Pro so if you liked it there, you probably won’t have any complaints.
- Inside, the new mini has an 8-megapixel rear camera and inherits the 7-megapixel ƒ/2.2 front-facing camera setup that first appeared in the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, offering a big step up from the 1.2-megapixel sensor in the iPad mini 4.
- Bluetooth has been upgraded to the latest Bluetooth 5.0 version that doubles the speed while quadrupling the range. This is important because the new AirPods [iFixit teardown] also use Bluetooth 5 for faster switching between devices and improved connection reliability (to enjoy these AirPods improvements, you must pair them with a device that supports Bluetooth 5, like the new mini).
- Networking improvements include Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Gigabit class LTE on cellular models and eSIM technology.
Summing it all up, while the battery can be replaced more easily than before thanks to the new connector, but many other components are difficult to service due to copious amount of glue used to hold everything together.
Furthermore, the Lightning port is soldered to the logic board while removing the Home button is required for display replacement in order to keep Touch ID functionality.
Because of all that, the new mini has earned a repairability score of two out of ten. iFixit will publish a teardown analyst of the third-generation iPad Air tomorrow.
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