Fewer LEDs mean leaner iPad Air, researcher says

Apple was able to shrink both the LED backlight assembly and the display significantly, allowing the company to reduce the size of the battery and thus the size of the device.

The iPad Air disassembled: Slashing the number of backlights has a big impact on thickness.
The iPad Air disassembled: Slashing the number of backlights has a big impact on thickness. IHS iSuppli

The number of LEDs has been slashed in the iPad Air, allowing Apple to build a sleeker tablet, according to a new report.

More has been revealed about the iPad Air's internals, revealing a revamped backlight assembly that helped Apple to slash the battery capacity by 23 percent, according to a teardown report released Tuesday by IHS iSuppli.

The iPad Air uses only 36 light-emitting diodes (LED) to illuminate the LCD, down from 84 in the earlier-generation iPad, according to iSuppli.

"[That's a] big difference [and] has a big impact on the power requirements for the device," Andrew Rassweiler, Sr., director of Cost Benchmarking Services at IHS, said in response to an e-mail query.

"In part because there are fewer backlight lamps, the battery now has reduced capacity," he said.

As iFixit demonstrated on Friday , the Air's 33 WHr, two-cell battery is "decidedly less monstrous" than the previous iPad's 43 WHr, three-cell power plant.

Apple didn't stop there, though. The thickness of the display and touch-screen subsystems has been trimmed too.

"The Air's display is 1.8 millimeters thick, compared with about 2.23 millimeters for the older-generation iPad. Meanwhile, the touch screen is also thinner with its use of an expensive cyclo olephin polymer (COP) film sensor versus the thicker and cheaper glass sensor used in the previous models," iSuppli said in its report.

iPad Air
iPad Air Apple
About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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