Apple iPhone 6 teardown: Design changes make device easier to repair
Bill Detwiler cracks open the iPhone 6, explores the internal hardware, and explains how Apple made the phone easier to repair.
Bill DetwilerEditor in Chief
Bill Detwiler is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.
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Watch this: Cracking Open: Apple iPhone 6
With its larger screen and rounded edges, the iPhone 6 is a dramatic departure from the exterior design that Apple introduced with the iPhone 4. But along with the outside changes, Apple also made lots of tweaks on the inside, which make the iPhone 6 faster, able to store more data, and easier to open and repair.
Unlike the similar-looking iPhone 5 and 5S, there's no mistaking the iPhone 6 for one of Apple's previous handsets. Its 4.7-inch display is larger than anything Apple has released before, its case is much thinner, and the rounded edges give it a distinctive look.
Relocated Home button cable makes repairs easier: Cracking open the iPhone 6 is actually easier than opening previous iPhones. You'll still need to remove the two Pentalobe screws along the bottom edge with a special screwdriver, but Apple relocated the ribbon cable on the Home button, which means you no longer need to worry about tearing it when popping open the front panel.
Interior design very similar with lots of small changes: The overall hardware layout is the same as on the iPhone 5S. Inside the case, there's a speaker and Lightning connector assembly at the bottom, battery along the left side, main circuit board along the right, and the camera assembly at the top. Attached to the front panel are the display, front camera and sensors, earpiece speaker and the Home button. Despite these big similarities, there are lots of small changes. A new metal plate and attached cable sit behind the screen. The vibration motor was moved from the top of the device to the bottom. The power button has been relocated from the top to the right side. There's a small, removable component connected to the upper-left corner of the main logic board, which appears to be an antenna. And these are just some of the more noticeable changes.
Redesigned system board: The main system board is similar in general shape to the boards in previous iPhones, but it has a larger section that runs horizontally across the top of the phone. Unfortunately, the shields that cover the iPhone 6's motherboard are soldered in place -- obscuring our view of the new A8 processor, M8 motion tracking chip and most of the other chips. As I wanted to put this phone back together in working order, I left the shields in place during our teardown.
Higher capacity battery: The iPhone 6 has a 3.82V, 1,810mAh, 6.91Wh battery, compared to the iPhone 5S' 3.8V, 5.92Wh, 1,560mAh battery and the iPhone 5's 3.8V, 5.45Wh, 1,440mAh unit.
iSight camera covered with metal bracket: During our teardown of the iPhone 5S, we discovered that the rear-facing camera was covered with a thin, rubber flap. Apple replaced this flap with a metal cover on the iPhone 6.
New vibration motor: On the iPhone 5S, Apple used a rotating-mass vibration motor. On the iPhone 6, the company switched to a linear-actuator vibration motor.
More storage available: Although the entry-level iPhone 6 still comes with a measly 16GB of storage, the top-end model has twice the storage capacity (128GB) of the iPhone 5S (64GB).
Big leap forward
There's nothing revolutionary about the iPhone 6, but Apple definitely took a big leap forward with its design and construction -- a bigger screen, new body and lots of new or relocated components. I'm also glad they made the phone easier to open and repair.