iPad 4 hard to fix and wastes space, says iFixit

A teardown of the 4th-generation iPad results in a poor grade for repairability.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read
The iPad Mini.
The iPad Mini. CNET

Anyone attempting to repair Apple's 4th-gen iPad will face a rough job, according to the folks at iFixit.

Examining the innards of the iPad 4, the fixit site found that the unit is glued shut through adhesive. Taking apart the tablet required iFixit to apply heat to soften the adhesive and then pry it open with guitar picks, which fortunately didn't damage the device.

As with the iPad 3, the battery is adhered securely to the rear case, making it hard to reach and difficult to remove. But that's par for the course, as Apple specifically designs its mobile devices to prevent users from replacing the battery themselves.

On the semi-positive side, the Lightning connector is glued on with adhesive, but iFixit didn't find it especially tough to remove. The new connector also uses its own dedicated ribbon cable, which means that replacing it shouldn't prove too expensive.

On the negative side, the iFixit staff found that Apple saved little interior space by switching to the smaller Lightning connector. The Lightning cable is housed in the same large frame used for the 30-pin connector.

"We were hoping that space savings would yield bigger, better speakers," iFixit noted. "Very disappointing, indeed."

In the end, the site gave the iPad 4 a repair score of only 2 out of 10 (ten being the easiest to repair). In assigning the poor grade, iFixit said that you can't access the front panel's connector until you take out the LCD. The LCD itself has a a foam tape attaching it to the front panel, which ups the odds of it being broken if the unit is dissambled.

And finally, "gobs, gobs, and gobs of adhesive hold everything in place, including the prone-to-start-a-fire-if-punctured battery."

Of course, the average iPad 4 owner is not about to dissamble the device to perform repairs. That's a job left to Apple techs and to do-it-yourselfers who have the skills or the guts to take the thing apart.