Retina iPad mini teardown: LG Display Retina panel, larger battery, A7 and more

IPad mini 2 (Retina, iFixit teardown 001)

Yesterday, I wondered on Twitter what was taking the repair magicians over at iFixit so long to do their ritual teardown of Apple’s stealthily-released iPad mini with Retina display. My prayers have been listened to as iFixit has torn apart the device, revealing its guts and components for the whole world to see. As you could imagine, they found an Apple-designed A7 chip inside, slightly underclocked versus the iPad Air.

On top of that, there are usual suspects in terms of wireless and supporting chips. As for the titular update to this iPad mini – the Retina display – the teardown analysis has identified an LG Display-supplied 7.9-inch in-plane switching LCD with a 2,048-by-1,536 screen resolution.

While the resolution is the same as the iPad 3/4/Air, the images are crisper at 326 pixels per inch (264 ppi on the iPad Air) due to a shrunken form factor, as noted MacStories editor Federico Viticci noted in his hands-on article.

Other tidbits follow…

The LG Display-made Retina is interesting given that the original iPad mini came with a Samsung-made 1,024-by-768 pixel resolution screen.

Another Samsung-made component is of course the Apple-designed 64-bit A7 processor. It has a part number of APL0698 that matches up with the iPhone 5s’s A7. The iPad Air’s A7 processor has a part number of APL5698.

iPad mini 2 (Retina, Geekbench 001)

Geekbench tests suggest Apple gave this mini’s A7 the clock frequency of 1.29GHz, which is a tad slower than the iPad Air’s 1.39GHz and the same as the 1.3GHz A7 package ticking inside the iPhone 5s.

The 0.1GHz difference should help reduce the Retina iPad mini’s thermal output and thereby save power needed for the Retina display, though you’re unlikely to experience a noticeable speed difference in terms of real life use.

IPad mini 2 (Retina, iFixit teardown 002)
The iPad mini’s Retina display, made by LG Display.

Speaking of the display, the iFixit teardown of the device (model number: A1489) exposed an LG-made Retina display powered by a Parade DP675 LCD driver, similar to the DP655 found in the iPad Air.

According to one rumor, the expected tight holiday supply of the Retina iPad mini is the direct consequence of the screen burn-in issues. Apparently LG Display’s output levels are “not close to full production” yet.

And because Retina requires a more powerful backlighting in order to push the light between 4x denser pixels, Apple engineers have put in a much larger 24.3WHr battery versus the 16.3WHr one of the previous model.


IPad mini 2 (Retina, iFixit teardown 003)
Battery modules detached from the back plate.

Such a densely packed hardware can’t fare well in repairability.

Indeed, iFixit gave the device a poor repairability score of just two on a ten-point scale.

Here’s a video of the teardown.

Other tidbits and component wins include the same Broadcom touchscreen controllers used in the iPad Air and iPhone 5/5s, a hair thicker (0.3mm) enclosure, the M7 motion coprocessor, Elpida-made LPDDR3 DRAM, the 1.2-megapixel 720p front-facing FaceTime HD camera, the usual five-megapixel 1080p iSight shooter on the flip side, Toshiba NAND flash storage and more.

For comparison’s sake, check out iFixit’s original iPad mini and iPad Air teardown.