iFixit gives Apple’s Smart Keyboard the lowest repairability score possible

By , Nov 24, 2015

Smart Keyboard iFixit teardown 003

Repair experts over at iFixit today pried open Apple’s new $169 Smart Keyboard case for the iPad Pro.

As you know, the Smart Keyboard is covered in Apple’s mysterious conductive fabric that actually connects the keyboard to the iPad Pro’s Smart Connector and allows for a “two‑way flow of power and data.”

But more important than that, the accessory is completely glued together, which makes servicing next to impossible. In fact, the Smart Keyboard files as one of the least repairable devices iFixit has ever analyzed so small wonder they gave it a repairability score of zero out of ten, ten being the easiest to repair.

The Smart Keyboard (model number: A1636) features Apple’s new Smart Connector for power and data connection without manual Bluetooth pairing, has a total of 64 keys, each 4mm deep, and is water and stain-resistant.

Smart indeed

The QWERTY keyboard, currently available in US English only, sports dedicated Control (⌃), Option (⌥) and Command (⌘) keys and the keyboard swapping globe button.

iFixit likes the placement of a stiffening weight in the spacebar, which allows the keyboard to register a push no matter where you tap on it.

“No wobbly spacebar woes here,“ the site writes.

Curiously, iFixit observes that the accessory has so many sections that Apple even included a handy guide on how to fold it correctly.

Smart Keyboard iFixit teardown 004

Apple Fabric?

Apple’s high-tech synthetic fabric (“We think its nylon, our teardown engineer notes that it feels like a windbreaker,” writes iFixit) holds things together while also providing protection against water and stains. On the inside, these conductive fibers bring power to the keyboard and send its keystrokes back to the iPad Pro.

Smart Keyboard iFixit teardown 001

“We’re excited about this design feature, as these fabric strips should be more durable and fail-resistant than wires or traditional flex cables,” writes iFixit.

Another noteworthy observation: the Smart Keyboard sports a huge printed circuit board which spans the keyboard and connects to a total of 64 dome switches, which are the same switches as those inside the 2015 MacBook.

Smart Keyboard iFixit teardown 002

There is not much else inside the Smart Keyboard. “No LEDs, or batteries or fancy fans needed here,“ according to the site.

The chips

iFixit has identified the STM32F103VB chipset on the printed circuit board, clocked at 72 MHz. This is interesting as Apple has used the same ST Microelectronics module inside its Magic accessories, making this ARM-based 32-bit Cortex-M3 chipset Apple’s latest go-to micro controller for peripheral input devices.

Low repairability score

“While durable, the keyboard is impossible to open without damaging, meaning no internal components can be replaced without destroying the device,” iFixit concludes.

Source: iFixit

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  • TJ

    Seems a bit silly giving it a “repairability” score when it’s clearly not a product that’s meant to be repaired in the first place.

    • Newgunnerr

      If it’s broke, just go to an Apple store 🙂

    • I think this is the point iFixit is trying to make by continually tearing apart Apple products, they don’t consider repairability or upgradeability enough.

      • Anonomous.TECH.man

        The iPhones 5 to present are quite easy to repair. As long as it’s a battery or screen replacement. You can forget repairing anything else they sell.

      • (JailbreakQA) King Shoot

        Previous iPhone models were much better for repairing. You could go as far as replacing the flash storage with a bigger one or the camera.

  • iByron

    Surprise surprise

  • Jason B

    I think we will see more of this as Apple moves to a fully integrated solution on its mobile devices. Apple Watch, for instance, and the waterproofing that has been mentioned for the iPhone 7, while nice from a user standpoint, it comes at the cost of not being able to repair anything.

    • tariq

      If you get a waterproof phone, like mine, it’s pretty cool! I love it! But if it breaks, I can’t repair it anywhere bc no one knows hope to repair it properly. So if anything happens I have to send it to Sony to fix it

  • Aman kapoor

    Am I the only person who thinks that ifixit gave a low repairability score to almost every product that came in 2015

    • Morgan Freeman

      The world “economy” can’t keep “growing” if things can be repaired. They need people to keep buying stuff. They are attempting to grow infinitely, in a finite world. It’s just not possible. Sooner, rather than later, the cards will all come tumbling down. It is inevitable. You simply can not pull eleven marbles from a can which contains ten.

      • JayDee917

        Morgan Freeman is infinitely wise.

  • BoAppHead

    Its just a case with a keyboard……