10 years of Cracking Open the Apple iPhoneA decade ago, Bill Detwiler cracked open the original iPhone. As Apple celebrates the phone's 10th anniversary, he celebrates 10 years of taking them apart.
It's been a decade since I cracked open the original iPhone, and as Apple celebrates the phone's 10th anniversary, it's only appropriate that we celebrate 10 years of taking them apart. I'm Bill Detwiler and this is Cracking Open. It took me three hours to disassemble the original iPhone. It takes me less than 30 minutes, these days. Now there were no special tools for taking them apart back then either. I used everything from plastic toothpicks to a pocket knife. And just like today's iPhone, the original was filled with tiny screws. Now compared to today's iPhones, though, the first one really looked like a prototype on the inside. The second iPhone which was called the 3G not the 2 looked a lot like the first one. One, but had a single piece back that was more heavily curved. External screws made their first appearance in the 3G, and thanks to these screws and improved front panel design, it was much easier to crack open the 3G compared to the original. The interior of the iPhone 3G also looked a lot less like a prototype. For example, the battery was not soldered to the system board. Still, it's striking to see how large the board is compared to the newer ones. The iPhone 4 had a whole new design, and while it still had external screws you now opened the case by removing the back cover. This was the first time we saw the now-familiar interior layout. With an L-shaped system board sitting next to an elongated, rectangular battery. It was also the first time an iPhone processor would have an A marking. In this case it was the aptly named A4. Now despite being filled with tons of tiny screws, cover plates and clips the iPhone 4 design made it one of the easier early iPhones to crack open. The iPhone 4S had basically the same exterior design as the previous year's iPhone but had lots of new hardware. Unfortunately, Apple made the 4S a bit more difficult to crack open than older models by using special pentalobe screws on the exterior. These screws first appeared on the Verizon version of the iPhone 4. Although the 4S was remarkably easy to open, getting one was not. I waited in line at the Apple Store for over 13 hours to buy the one that I cracked open. The iPhone 5 had the same general shape as the 4 and 4S. But the newer device had lots of hardware updates and a redesigned case. And the old 30 pin connector had been replaced with a Lightning port. With the iPhone 5, Apple returned to a design that required you to open the phone by removing the front panel. Now unfortunately the metal shields on the 5's system board Were soldered in place, a trend that would continue until today. Seeing the chips underneath was impossible without cutting off the shield, which I don't do, because I always wanna put the phones back together and have them work. Now being an off-year upgrade, the iPhone 5S. didn't have any major design changes. It did, however, have some new hardware, such as the fingerprint scanning, touch ID home button. Now unfortunately the new home button made the new 5S a bit tricky to crack open, thanks to a fragile ribbon cable which connected it the circuit board inside. The iPhone 6 and larger 6 Plus Apple, once again, significantly redesigned the phone's exterior. Compared to the original iPhone, cracking open and disassembling these models was a breeze and once you were inside, there was lots to see. As an S model, it was no surprise that the iPhone 6S looked almost identical to the 6. You really had to crack this one open to see the updates. Luckily by this time we stopped using pocket knives and plastic tooth picks. The 6S had lots of hardware updates too, including 3D touch technology, which detects how much pressure you apply to the screen, a new haptic engine and a body made out of a series 7000 aluminum alloy. A more original aluminum that was used on the 6 and likely use to avoid bend to gate saga. And that brings us up to the iPhone 7 and 7+. Tapped engine was larger and the speaker compartment had a new shape. And a new water-resistant gasket. And there were a host of new or updated chips. Including the A10 fusion processor and motion co-processor. Then there was probably the most controversial change Apple ever made to an iPhone. Removing the headphone jack. A lot's changed since I dissected the first iPhone back in 2007. Today's phones, like this 7 Plus have bigger screens, thinner profiles, better hardware and of course there are now over two million IOS apps. But one thing that hasn't changed, the iPhone's I crack open still work when I put them back together. Just like the original So happy tenth birthday, iPhone. You can see me cracking open the original iPhone and tons of other tech at techrepublic.com/crackingopen.