Teardown of the iPhone 4

The people over at ifixit.com got their hands on the newly released iPhone 4. They completely dissembled the “world’s most wanted device” to see what kind of secrets lie beneath.

After looking over the iPhone 4 teardown, there were a few things that stuck out, or caught my interest.

First of all, I really like the stainless steel and glass body. I think it is a nice change from the 3G and 3GS, with their aluminum and plastic bodies. From what I’ve read, the general consensus is that it makes the phone feel more sturdy than its predecessors.

An interesting move on Apple’s part was getting rid of the storage capacity etching on the back of the iPhone 4. Most, if not all, “iDevices” Apple has ever made included this etching. My guess is that Apple is going for a more contemporary, minimalist look, removing any clutter they think is unnecessary.

When opening the new iPhone, the back of the case is released, as opposed to the front glass like on the 3G and 3GS. This allows for easier access to the battery and replacement of the back case. However, replacing the front glass may prove to be more of a painstaking process than with previous models.

Replacement of the battery seems to be pretty simple, keeping in mind that you cannot just pop off the battery cover and pop in the new battery. There is a pull-tab that says for “Authorized Service Provider Only”. I’m guessing this means that Apple wants the consumer to keep their hands off of it and leave the battery replacement up to Apple.

Unlike the iPhone 3GS and the iPad, the iPhone 4 has 512MB of RAM. The 3GS and iPad only have half of that, with 256MB. Also, the iPhone 4 contains an audio chamber that helps clarify sounds leaving the phone, including speakerphone and music played through the speaker.

Apple integrated the UMTS, GSM, GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth antennas into the stainless steel frame. This allows for better reception for all of the wireless features. This should improve the signal issues that AT&T customers have been complaining about for years while using an iPhone.

The logic board contains most of what makes the iPhone 4 function. Apple’s A4 processor is located towards the center. The Samsung-manufactured 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 core is the same processor that is used in the iPad. Many other components are included on the logic board, such as the gyroscope, accelerometer, flash memory, Broadcom chip (includes WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS), and much more. I was surprised at how many components Apple was able to fit on this tiny logic board.

Front of the logic board

Back of the logic board

The front glass panel of the iPhone 4 is composed of Corning Gorilla Glass, which is chemically strengthened to be 20x stiffer and 30x harder than plastic. As discussed earlier, replacing the front glass does look like it would be quite the painstaking process and probably should not be attempted, unless by someone who is certified by Apple to do so. The glass is glued to the LCD panel and the digitizer, meaning those would have to be replaced along with the glass, resulting in a costly repair if the front glass of the iPhone 4 is damaged.

For more images and a complete teardown of the new iPhone 4, visit ifixit’s iPhone 4 Teardown.

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