Teardown of iPad 3G shows Apple using LCD frame as an antenna

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
Apple's iPad 3G, which went on sale in the U.S. on Friday, reveals a new approach to achieving optimal wireless reception and some interesting differences internally when compared to its Wi-Fi-only sibling, according to a new tear-down analysis.



Most of the differences are due the iPad 3G's additional 3G / GPS functionality, said iFixIt, which also noted the following highlights from its internal examination:



The immediate visible difference is the inclusion of a black plastic RF window on top of the iPad for better antenna reception.

The black RF window significantly changes the opening procedure. You cannot start separating the display using the notches on the top (Ã* la Wi-Fi version), since that will undoubtedly break the RF window. You have to start from the right side and gingerly proceed to the top and bottom of the iPad.

There are actually FIVE antennas in this iPad:

Two antennas handle the cell reception -- one is in the RF window on top, the other attaches to the LCD frame.

A single GPS antenna is also housed in the RF window on top.

Just like the iPad Wi-Fi, there are two antennas that handle Wi-Fi / Bluetooth connectivity, one in the Apple logo and another to the left of the dock connector.

Apple looks to be using the entire LCD frame as an antenna. This approach draws parallels to Apple's decision to also mount a wireless antenna to the frame of the optical drive on its new MacBook Pros.

Apple uses the same 3G baseband processor in both the iPhone 3GS and the iPad 3G.

The baseband processor in question is the Infineon 337S3754 PMB 8878 X-Gold IC. It was actually white-labeled on the production unit, but with enough sleuthing iFixIt was able to confirm its true identity.

The iPad 3G has a Broadcom BCM4750UBG Single-Chip AGPS Solution, whereas the iPhone 3GS uses an Infineon Hammerhead II package -- a big win for Broadcom.

Apple did not change any major suppliers between manufacturing the pre-production unit they provided the FCC and their final production run.



New to the 3G iPad, there's an antenna attached to the backside of the display assembly.



Apple soldered the EMI shield onto the communications board, making it challenging to show the chips.



The iPad's SIM card measures 12mm x 15mm. That's just under half the size of the standard size SIM card from an iPhone 3GS.



The iPad 3G completely torn down.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    ibluffibluff Posts: 30member
    cool..
  • Reply 2 of 35
    sippincidersippincider Posts: 405member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    You have to start from the right side and gingerly proceed to the top and bottom of the iPad.



    When these people say "gingerly", I'll assume they mean something on par with neurosurgery.
  • Reply 3 of 35
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    I wonder if the 3G's WiFi signal is better and by how much.



    PS: I forgot about the antenna attached to the ODD frame in the new MBPs this might make today's project a little tricker.
  • Reply 4 of 35
    prof. peabodyprof. peabody Posts: 2,860member
    The only thing I keep thinking when I look at these teardown pictures is why the heck they didn't make a more useable, smaller version of the iPad at the same time? Take out one of those batteries and shrink the case (it's half empty anyway), and you'd have a paperback sized device you could actually type on comfortably while standing up which has always been one of the central and yet elusive goals of tablet computing.



    Ask any real writer what they think of the iPad and they'll tell you it's really only okay for the occasional typing task. Something a bit smaller that you can actually thumb-type on would enable proper portable computing, and allow you to actually be productive instead of just watching crappy movies or play games on the couch.
  • Reply 5 of 35
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 725member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    The only thing I keep thinking when I look at these teardown pictures is why the heck they didn't make a more useable, smaller version of the iPad at the same time?



    They have. It's called the iPod Touch. It's unlikely they'd scale down the iPad, as it'd then just be an iPod.
  • Reply 6 of 35
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Elijahg View Post


    They have. It's called the iPod Touch. It's unlikely they'd scale down the iPad, as it'd then just be an iPod.



    Yes and no. There's a pretty big gap between the 10" and 3.5" sizes.



    Apple doesn't seem to like making a lot of variations, unless it's iPod nanos, then they'll go nuts and maintain 18 permutations.
  • Reply 7 of 35
    bigdaddypbigdaddyp Posts: 811member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    Yes and no. There's a pretty big gap between the 10" and 3.5" sizes.



    Apple doesn't seem to like making a lot of variations, unless it's iPod nanos, then they'll go nuts and maintain 18 permutations.



  • Reply 8 of 35
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,584member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I wonder if the 3G's WiFi signal is better and by how much.



    PS: I forgot about the antenna attached to the ODD frame in the new MBPs this might make today's project a little tricker.



    I have both iPads. I have to say the signal seems about the same with both on wifi. However, the 3G reception compared to my iPhone is so much better I noticed it instantly. Areas where my phone looses service my iPad has signal.
  • Reply 9 of 35
    vingmoovingmoo Posts: 3member
    That is incredible. How do they figure that stuff out.



    Davies

    Online Anonymity
  • Reply 10 of 35
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,224member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    Ask any real writer what they think of the iPad and they'll tell you it's really only okay for the occasional typing task.



    Be wary of such generalizations as *any real writer*. I just finished listening to the MacBreak Weekly podcast where one real writer said that he now uses only the screen keyboard for all production typing on his iPad, and leaves his Apple Bluetooth keyboard at home. He said he adapted quite nicely, thank you. I guess he must write sitting down.
  • Reply 11 of 35
    bartfatbartfat Posts: 432member
    Wow, using the LCD frame as an antenna! How come no one else thought of that? Genius, I tell you...
  • Reply 12 of 35
    sfoalexsfoalex Posts: 22member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post


    Be wary of such generalizations as *any real writer*. I just finished listening to the MacBreak Weekly podcast where one real writer said that he now uses only the screen keyboard for all production typing on his iPad, and leaves his Apple Bluetooth keyboard at home. He said he adapted quite nicely, thank you. I guess he must write sitting down.



    I have listened to that show and that Jason guy said no one would write more than a paragraph or two on the iPad. I've written 17 documents on the iPad, each between 1 ~ 24 pages in length. I seriously considering borrowing a video camera and recording myself typing on this. I type pretty fast on this. I often wonder if I don't type faster on the screen than I do on a real keyboard. I know I am at least near as fast if not as fast. I used to read others state such things on cell phones, and I never believed it. However, on this iPad, I find myself writing that same statement. You can easily master the screen keyboard. I had it down cold in two days.
  • Reply 13 of 35
    lochiaslochias Posts: 83member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    The only thing I keep thinking when I look at these teardown pictures is why the heck they didn't make a more useable, smaller version of the iPad at the same time? Take out one of those batteries and shrink the case (it's half empty anyway), and you'd have a paperback sized device you could actually type on comfortably while standing up which has always been one of the central and yet elusive goals of tablet computing.



    Ask any real writer what they think of the iPad and they'll tell you it's really only okay for the occasional typing task. Something a bit smaller that you can actually thumb-type on would enable proper portable computing, and allow you to actually be productive instead of just watching crappy movies or play games on the couch.





    I don't know what you mean by a 'real writer,' but I can speed type (all fingers) on the iPad only in landscape. There's no way that I could do that on a smaller form factor.
  • Reply 14 of 35
    prof. peabodyprof. peabody Posts: 2,860member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Lochias View Post


    I don't know what you mean by a 'real writer,' but I can speed type (all fingers) on the iPad only in landscape. There's no way that I could do that on a smaller form factor.



    Well I haven't got mine yet as they still aren't selling them outside of the USA, but al l reports I've read from real writers is that the keyboard is not good for touch typing.



    What I was really talking about though is mobile computing or writing "on the go." I take the train everyday, and that's when I do a lot of writing (currently standing up using the iPhone). I get good speed on the phone, but it is cramped.



    One of the "elusive goals" as I phrased it, of tablet computing has always been being able to use the device while standing/walking since otherwise you have to lay the thing down on a table or your lap. If I could find a seat on the train I could hunch over the thing on my lap I guess but my neck kind of aches enough already.



    My main point was that if it was just a bit smaller, or if the side bezels weren't so damned big, you could thumb-type on it like the phone, while standing or walking. That would make it a hundred times more useful for me and turn it into a truly mobile computing device. If I have to find a "place" (like a table or something), to put it down and type, then to me it's not really mobile computing and I don't see the big advantage over a simple laptop. I like to be more mobile than that I guess.
  • Reply 15 of 35
    stlbluesfanstlbluesfan Posts: 353member
    Why no reports on last nights retail 3G iPad release? I'm curious as to how stock seems to be holding up.
  • Reply 16 of 35
    ivladivlad Posts: 739member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    The only thing I keep thinking when I look at these teardown pictures is why the heck they didn't make a more useable, smaller version of the iPad at the same time? Take out one of those batteries and shrink the case (it's half empty anyway), and you'd have a paperback sized device you could actually type on comfortably while standing up which has always been one of the central and yet elusive goals of tablet computing.



    Ask any real writer what they think of the iPad and they'll tell you it's really only okay for the occasional typing task. Something a bit smaller that you can actually thumb-type on would enable proper portable computing, and allow you to actually be productive instead of just watching crappy movies or play games on the couch.



    I don't think typing novels was one of the iPad tasks from the beginning.
  • Reply 17 of 35
    souliisoulsouliisoul Posts: 827member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    The only thing I keep thinking when I look at these teardown pictures is why the heck they didn't make a more useable, smaller version of the iPad at the same time? Take out one of those batteries and shrink the case (it's half empty anyway), and you'd have a paperback sized device you could actually type on comfortably while standing up which has always been one of the central and yet elusive goals of tablet computing.



    Ask any real writer what they think of the iPad and they'll tell you it's really only okay for the occasional typing task. Something a bit smaller that you can actually thumb-type on would enable proper portable computing, and allow you to actually be productive instead of just watching crappy movies or play games on the couch.



    Any real writer would not use an iPad, but a laptop to undertake their work. Your native generalization of writers is probably from no known knowledge, but providing your preference of writing.
  • Reply 18 of 35
    tobiwantobiwan Posts: 71member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by StLBluesFan View Post


    Why no reports on last nights retail 3G iPad release? I'm curious as to how stock seems to be holding up.



    I went to the Apple store in Jacksonville after work yesterday and they were sold out around 6:15. They had been selling them all day so I am not sure why it was said they would go on sale at 5:00. Being a shareholder I asked the clerk and he said there was a line all day and they sold them non-stop.



    It just amazes me how crowded the store always stays. I saw 2 27" iMacs, 1 21" iMac, 4 MBPs and countless iPads sold in the 45 min or so I was there.
  • Reply 19 of 35
    ajitmdajitmd Posts: 365member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tobiwan View Post


    I went to the Apple store in Jacksonville after work yesterday and they were sold out around 6:15. They had been selling them all day so I am not sure why it was said they would go on sale at 5:00. Being a shareholder I asked the clerk and he said there was a line all day and they sold them non-stop.



    It just amazes me how crowded the store always stays. I saw 2 27" iMacs, 1 21" iMac, 4 MBPs and countless iPads sold in the 45 min or so I was there.



    The Fedex guy who delived my iPad 3G at 2.30 PM, said he was delivering a truckload of them. Not much news was made about the product. I suspect most people got theirs via Fedex. It is backordered anyway.
  • Reply 20 of 35
    dick applebaumdick applebaum Posts: 12,505member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post


    Be wary of such generalizations as *any real writer*. I just finished listening to the MacBreak Weekly podcast where one real writer said that he now uses only the screen keyboard for all production typing on his iPad, and leaves his Apple Bluetooth keyboard at home. He said he adapted quite nicely, thank you. I guess he must write sitting down.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sfoalex View Post


    I have listened to that show and that Jason guy said no one would write more than a paragraph or two on the iPad. I've written 17 documents on the iPad, each between 1 ~ 24 pages in length. I seriously considering borrowing a video camera and recording myself typing on this. I type pretty fast on this. I often wonder if I don't type faster on the screen than I do on a real keyboard. I know I am at least near as fast if not as fast. I used to read others state such things on cell phones, and I never believed it. However, on this iPad, I find myself writing that same statement. You can easily master the screen keyboard. I had it down cold in two days.



    Well! Harumph! You're obviously not a "real writer".... Everyone knows that a "real writer" needs to use a "proper OS" to be productive!



    ... I guess, like the bee, no one 'splained to you that it is impossible for you to fly!



    So, stop it, immediately!



    .
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