Samsung Galaxy S9+ Teardown Reveals Components for Dual-Aperture Camera and ‘Lower-Tech’ AR Emoji

Over the weekend, iFixit shared its latest teardown, this one for Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S9+ smartphone. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ will both launch this Friday, March 16 for around for $720 and $840, respectively, and some initial reviews took to comparing the devices to Apple's iPhone X.

iFixit did so as well in the new teardown, starting off by trying to get into the back of the S9+ to look at its rear-facing camera components. After applying heat, the iFixit team got into the smartphone and found its dual-aperture camera system, which the team described as one of the only significant hardware changes this year.

Images via iFixit

iFixit explained that the S9+ has a rear-facing camera that automatically adjusts its aperture for low light, and at f/1.5 it has the widest aperture of any phone. For normal photos, Samsung's new device still has a "more standard" f/2.4 aperture. In comparison, the iPhone X's dual 12 MP rear cameras include f/1.8 and f/2.4 apertures.
Standard camera lenses use at least five aperture blades to keep the aperture roughly circular throughout many f-stop adjustments. This Galaxy's aperture has just two rotating, ring-like blades for its single adjustment.
After some trouble dislodging the rear fingerprint sensor, iFixit moved to focus on the battery within the S9+ and discovered a 3.85V, 3,500 mAh battery. As the iFixit team pointed out, the battery in the S9+ shares the same specs as those found in the S8+ last year, and in the Note7 in 2016. The iPhone X's battery teardown uncovered a 3.81V, 2,716 mAh battery in Apple's smartphone.

Eventually, the team got underneath the S9+ display and compared its front-facing camera components side-by-side with the iPhone X. iFixit noted that Samsung's AR Emoji are "lower-tech" compared to Apple's Animoji, mainly because the S9+ front-facing hardware -- composed of an iris scanner, camera, IR emitter, and proximity sensor -- are "pretty much exactly" the same as the tech from the Galaxy S8+.

Galaxy S9+ (left) and iPhone X (right)

Because of this, iFixit pointed out that it might have been a bit too soon for Samsung to debut its own animated emoji characters "without a hardware update to bring it up to speed." To further explain the distance between the technologies, the teardown team described Apple's Animoji as having Kinect-level tracking, while Samsung's emoji are more akin to Snapchat filters.

iFixit gave the Samsung Galaxy S9+ a repairability score of 4 out of 10, explaining that there are a few modular components while noting the chance for breakage if attempting to repair the display and rear glass panel. The iPhone X fared slightly better in its teardown with a 6 out of 10 score. To read more about the Galaxy S9+ and its teardown, visit iFixit's website.

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HomePod Teardown Reveals Hidden 14-Pin Connector, 16GB Storage, and Very Low Repairability

iFixit has completed an exhaustive teardown of the HomePod and found that, while the speaker appears to have a simple design on the outside, it will likely be extremely difficult for customers to complete do-it-yourself repairs.

HomePod's mesh has a drawstring

The teardown experts, who admit there might be a better way to open the HomePod that they've yet to learn, were forced to use a variety of tools to gain access to the internal components, including a heat gun, a guitar pick, a knife, and after all else failed, even a hacksaw and an ultrasonic cutter.

Underneath the rubber foot, iFixit found a hidden 14-pin connector that they speculate is probably used to test or program HomePods on pogo pins during assembly in Taiwan. Given the port sits below a layer of strong adhesive, it's unclear if it will be used for any other purpose, such as diagnostic testing.

HomePod's hidden 14-pin port

Digging further, the team found the HomePod has an Apple A8 chip, as advertised, likely paired with 1GB of RAM layered underneath. There's also a 16GB flash storage chip from Toshiba, although users can't store songs on the speaker directly, as music must be streamed from Apple Music or an AirPlay source.

HomePod also has a two-part power supply, composed of an inner block handling the AC/DC conversion, and an outer ring distributing power to all eight of the speakers. The seven tweeters each have a conductive screw post.

In the end, the teardown concludes that the HomePod is very durable, but extremely difficult to open. This might explain why Apple is charging $279 to replace the HomePod entirely if it is damaged, unless only the power cable is damaged, in which case Apple charges a more reasonable $29 fee to have it repaired.

There's also AppleCare+ for HomePod, which adds up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage, each subject to a service fee of $39 in the United States, plus the upfront cost of the plan. But even then, it still appears that Apple is simply replacing damaged HomePods outright beyond power cable repairs.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)

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iFixit Reduces Price of All DIY iPhone Battery Replacement Kits to $29 or Less

Yesterday, Apple responded to customer complaints about how the company handles power management features in older iPhone models and decided to reduce the price for out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacements from $79 to $29, beginning in late January and lasting through December 2018. In response, iFixit has decided to match that price point and lower the cost of every DIY iPhone battery fix kit to $29 or less.

iFixit's kits include every tool that you need to open up an iPhone and swap out an old battery for a new one, and includes coverage for the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 6, 6 Plus, SE, 5, 5c, 5, and 4s. Apple's lowered price covers "anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced," so iFixit's fix kits also include coverage for older iPhone models excluded from Apple's new program.

The difference with iFixit is that you'll have to upgrade and swap out the battery on your own -- unlike paying Apple to do it for you -- but iFixit explained a few benefits that its DIY fix kits offer.
When we ask our customers why they do the repair themselves rather than take it to Apple, they give us a few reasons:

- Convenience. No need to drive anywhere or wait in line; replace your battery from your kitchen.
- Availability. Many people don’t live near an Apple Store, and don’t have another option for same-day repair.
- Privacy. Some people aren’t comfortable giving their device to someone else.
- Fun. It’s interesting to open up your stuff, find out how it works, and make it function better.
iFixit mentioned that over the last week it has noticed a 3x increase in customers using the site to replace their batteries, and in the last month just over 170,000 people specifically used the iFixit iPhone 6 battery install guide. For all iPhone models, nearly 510,000 people learned how to replace their device's battery in the last month.

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iPhone X Teardown: TrueDepth Camera System, Stacked Logic Board With 3GB RAM, and 2,716 mAh Battery

iFixit has completed an iPhone X teardown, providing a closer look inside the device, including its new TrueDepth camera system, stacked logic board, L-shaped two-cell battery pack, and Qi-based inductive charging coil.

Like every other model since the iPhone 7 Plus, the iPhone X is a sideways-opening device. A single bracket covers every logic board connector.

iFixit said the miniaturized logic board design is incredibly space efficient, with an unprecedented density of connectors and components. It noted the iPhone X logic board is about 70 percent of the size of the iPhone 8 Plus logic board.

The extra room allows for a new L-shaped two-cell battery pack rated for 2,716 mAh, which is slightly larger than the iPhone 8 Plus battery.

iFixit's teardown includes some high-resolution photos of the iPhone X's new TrueDepth camera system that powers Face ID and Animoji.

For those unfamiliar, a flood illuminator covers your face with infrared light. Next, the front-facing camera confirms a face. Then the IR dot projector projects a grid of dots over your face to create a three-dimensional map. Last, the infrared camera reads this map and sends the data to the iPhone X for authentication.

Like the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, the inside of the iPhone X's rear shell is affixed with an inductive charging coil based on the Qi standard.

Other components in this iPhone X include Apple's custom A11 Bionic chip, 3GB of LPDDR4x RAM from SK Hynix, 64GB of flash storage supplied by Toshiba, Qualcomm's Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, and a Cirrus Logic audio amplifier.

Some minor changes: Apple's Taptic Engine continues to be a linear oscillator vibration motor, the earpiece speaker has been shifted down, and the Lighting connector is said to be more greatly reinforced with a wider bracket that screws into the sidewall of the iPhone X's stainless steel frame.

iFixit gave the iPhone X a so-called repairability score of six out of a possible 10 points. It said a cracked display can be replaced without removing Face ID's biometric hardware, but it added that fussy cables tie unrelated components together into complex assemblies that are expensive and troublesome to replace.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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Apple TV 4K Teardown Reveals 3GB of RAM and Larger Venting System With Replaceable Fan

iFixit has shared an Apple TV 4K teardown, providing a closer look at the device's internal design and components.

We already know the Apple TV 4K is equipped with Apple's 64-bit A10X Fusion chip, and now the teardown confirms the device has a total of 3GB of LPDDR4 RAM supplied by South Korean company SK Hynix.

1GB + 2GB of LPDDR4 RAM outlined in yellow for a total of 3GB of RAM

The new power supply is rated for 12V at 1.083A, a modest increase over the 0.917A power supply in the fourth-generation Apple TV.

According to the teardown, Apple merged the new fan with the heat sink/EMI shield assembly from the fourth-generation Apple TV to create a larger thermal assembly for cooling and ventilation.

iFixit said the bottom of the unit has been redesigned with a total of eight exhaust ports and a new, replaceable fan driven by a Nidec brushless motor.

Beyond the return of a Gigabit Ethernet port and the removal of the USB-C diagnostic port, which we learned about before the teardown, the Apple TV 4K's design is largely the same as the previous Apple TV.

iFixit gave the Apple TV 4K a so-called repairability score of 8 out of a possible 10 points. The device is easy to open and has modular components, making for easy disassembly and repair. All major components are soldered to the logic board, however, so board-level soldering or full board replacements are required.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Tags: iFixit, teardown
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)

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Apple Watch Series 3 Teardown Reveals Larger Battery and Air Vent Moved Next to Diagnostic Port

iFixit has completed a teardown of the Apple Watch Series 3, which has a virtually identical form factor as previous models.

The display is unchanged from the Series 2, with one key difference being that it now functions as a multifrequency antenna for cellular. Series 3 models support LTE and UMTS, according to Apple's tech specs.

The battery in the 38mm model with GPS + Cellular has a capacity of 279 mAh at 3.82V, or 1.07 watt hours, which is only a slight increase of about 3.8 percent over the 38mm Series 2 model without cellular.

Apple said Series 3 models with cellular get up to 18 hours of battery life, including four hours of LTE and 14 hours of connection to an iPhone via Bluetooth. Series 2 models are also rated to last 18 hours with mixed usage.

iFixit was surprised that Apple managed to increase the battery size while still leaving room for the added functionality of cellular antennas, radios, power amplifiers, the embedded SIM card, and so on in the same form factor.

The embedded SIM, outlined in red, appears to be sourced from ST Microelectronics, and it is positioned next to a Wi-Fi module from Broadcom and other RF chips that enable cellular capabilities in the watch.

Last, we finally know what the tiny meshed hole is next to the diagnostic port: it's an air vent, since the Apple Watch Series 3's new barometric altimeter took over the vent's previous location next to the microphone.

Apple Watch Series 3's relocated air vent outlined in yellow

iFixit gave the Apple Watch Series 3 a repairability score of 6 out of a possible 10 points. Display repairs and battery replacements are both possible, albeit tricky, but replacing any of the component cables requires micro-soldering.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4
Tags: iFixit, teardown
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

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iFixit Launches New iPhone 7/7Plus Fix Kits for At-Home Battery Replacements and Screen Repairs

iFixit today released a collection of all-new Fix Kits for iPhone 7 devices that guide users through replacing batteries, cracked screens, and even the front and rear camera modules and sensors on an iPhone.

The new battery Fix Kits for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus join previous kits already available for iPhones as far back as the iPhone 4s. iFixit said that these battery replacement kits help bring a dead iPhone back to life, and include all the usual tools needed for the replacement process: a collection of screwdrivers, tweezers, iFixit's own Opening Tool and Opening Pick, and more. Battery Fix Kits start at $44.95 for the iPhone 7 and increase to $49.95 for the iPhone 7 Plus (pictured below).

The cracked screen Fix Kits are newly available for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus as well, and include parts and tools for users to replace a broken iPhone 7 screen on their own. Contents include a custom driver, steel bits, opening tools, tweezers, and a replacement screen backed by iFixit's lifetime guarantee, but users will have to transfer their old display's home button assembly to retain Touch ID functions. Cracked screen Fix Kits cost $134.95 for the iPhone 7 and rise to $164.95 for the iPhone 7 Plus.

There are also new iPhone 7 repair components in the Small Parts Kits section, aimed at the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus's Lightning Connector, front camera and sensors, and rear camera. The small parts Fix Kits vary more drastically in price, with an iPhone 7 front camera and sensor cable kit costing $34.95, and an iPhone 7 Plus Dual Rear Camera kit priced at $84.95.

While each Fix Kit has a guide for users to follow, iFixit has also published a few How To videos on its YouTube channel, including an iPhone 7-specific playlist, to make following along to some of the repair kits even easier.

Depending on the issue at hand, and the iPhone model, out-of-warranty repairs directly from Apple can cost as much as $349 for an iPhone 7 Plus. Similar to iFixit's recent battery replacement Fix Kits for MacBook Pro devices, users have a chance to save money if they try out iFixit's guided replacement kits, as long as they are also up for the challenge of an at-home repair.

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iFixit Debuts New Fix Kits for At-Home Retina MacBook Pro Battery Replacement

iFixit today launched six new battery repair kits for Apple's MacBook Pro with a Retina display, allowing users to replace the battery in an older-model MacBook Pro, restoring it to hold a full-day charge and extending its life for 2-3 years, according to iFixit. Each kit "offers all the tools needed" for users to perform the repair at home with a step-by-step guide taking them through the entire process.

The six kits cover battery replacements for the following Retina MacBook Pro models: 13-inch MacBook Pro (late 2012/early 2013), 15-inch MacBook Pro (mid 2012, early 2013), 13-inch MacBook Pro (late 2013/mid 2014), 15-inch MacBook Pro (late 2013/mid 2014), 13-inch MacBook Pro (early 2015), and 15-inch MacBook Pro (mid 2015).

Tools and contents of each kit include: a replacement battery, installation adhesive, kit bit driver, iFixit 4mm screwdriver bit torx T5, iFixit 4mm screwdriver bit torx security TR6, iFixit 4mm screwdriver bit pentalobe P5, tweezers, iFixit Opening Tool, iFixit Card (2), safety glasses, opening pick, adhesive remover dispensing syringe, adhesive remover solution, cleaning wipes, and gloves.
If you're experiencing bad battery life, we've got everything you need to replace it! These batteries are well adhered to the upper case of the computer so removing them isn't as straightforward as we'd like it to be. Fear not! Our kit offers all the tools needed to perform the repair and our guide shows you how to use the kit. The battery is an original OEM battery.
The fix kits range in price from $89.95 to $119.95, and include battery replacements measuring between 6010 mAh and 8230 mAh. Out-of-warranty Retina MacBook Pro battery replacements directly from Apple cost $199, so users who take advantage of iFixit's new battery replacement kits have the chance to save some money.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Tag: iFixit
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)

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Greenpeace Combats Planned Obsolescence in New Repairability Campaign, iPad and MacBook Score Low

A new campaign by Greenpeace today has rated the repairability of six Apple devices against the smartphone, tablet, and laptop market at large, the purpose of which is to highlight planned obsolescence in the technology industry. Greenpeace partnered with iFixit to assess over forty different devices that debuted between 2015 and 2017, with iFixit's teardown repairability scores serving as the basis for the data.

Apple's products looked at in the campaign included the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, 9.7-inch iPad Pro, iPad (fifth generation), 13-inch MacBook Pro, and 12-inch MacBook (refreshed in 2017). All products were rated in the following categories: battery replaceability, display replaceability, no special tools needed, and spare parts available.

Scoring worst on the list were the two MacBooks, which each got a 1/10, and the two iPads didn't fare much better, both getting 2/10 marks in the campaign. The new iPhone 7 models were much higher, both receiving a 7/10 with positive check marks in display replaceability but red x's in all other categories.

Microsoft had trouble in the ratings as well, with its Surface Pro 5 and Surface Book both rated at 1/10. Conversely, the brands abiding by Greenpeace's repairability mantra included Fairphone, Dell, and HP, which all had products rated at 10/10 on the campaign's scale.

Ultimately, Greenpeace wants to bring awareness to the phenomenon of planned obsolescence, which the company's IT sector analyst, Gary Cook, said "adds to growing stockpiles of e-waste," due to difficult repairability shortening device lifespan. Cook noted that, "improving the repairability of electronic products is technically achievable and brands should be prioritizing this in their product design."
“Electronics take a massive amount of energy, human effort, and natural resources to make,” said iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens. “And yet, manufacturers produce billions more of them every year—while consumers keep them for just a few years before tossing them away. E-waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world. We should be able to make electronics a more sustainable part of our lives.”
In an environmental report earlier this year, Greenpeace awarded Apple with an "A" rating, calling it the most environmentally friendly technology company in the world, for the third year in a row. That report looked specifically at energy transparency, renewable energy commitment, energy efficiency and mitigation, renewable procurement, and advocacy.

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iFixit Shares 10.5-Inch iPad Pro Teardown

iFixit has published a 10.5-inch iPad Pro teardown that provides a closer look at the tablet's internal design.

For the most part, the inside of an 10.5-inch iPad Pro looks similar to the 9.7-inch model it replaced, with only a few minor differences.

In the Wi-Fi version, for example, iFixit discovered some mysterious plastic blocks where the LTE antennas might be found in cellular models. It speculates the blocks are there to add support to the display assembly.

In the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, Apple has affixed the display cables down the center of the device, which puts them out of harm's way when prying open the display. The display cable bracket is affixed with standard Phillips screws.

The teardown confirms the 10.5-inch iPad Pro has 4GB of 1600MHz LPDDR4 RAM from Micron Technology, with flash storage supplied by Toshiba, which is currently selling its NAND memory division that produces those chips.

iFixit awarded the 10.5-inch iPad Pro a very low repairability score of 2 out of 10 due to Apple's continued use of strong adhesives for the display, logic board, speakers, ribbon cables, and other components.

Related Roundup: iPad Pro
Tags: iFixit, teardown
Buyer's Guide: 10.5" iPad Pro (Buy Now)

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