iFixit has published a preliminary teardown of the M1 iPad Pro, touted by Apple as a potential crossover, combining the portability of a tablet with the unbridled power of the same processor used in the MacBook Pro. But take a look at its innards and you'll find things largely appear the same.
As was the case with previous iPad Pro tablets, the avenue of ingress was through the display. This required iFixit to melt the adhesive flanking the sides with a gentle application of heat, and pulling it up using a heavy-duty suction cup, taking care to keep the display open with a few carefully placed plectrums.
Once inside, the iPad Pro revealed that not much had actually changed, bar a few obvious exceptions. The cellular antenna was dramatically bigger, as you would expect given its pairing with a 5G modem. To accommodate the slightly increased power drain, Apple also threw in a larger dual-cell 40.33Wh capacity battery. The previous model came with a 36.71Wh cell.
Lurking under a thick coating of thermal paste, iFixit spotted the M1 SoC, with 8GB of memory on the package. This wasn't much of a change compared to the previous version, which used an A12Z chip in the same unified configuration.
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Things got a bit more interesting when iFixit turned its attention to the new Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED display. This features over 10,000 LEDs across the rear of the display, clustered in 2,596 square-shaped dimming zones, and allows the tablet to achieve its solid brightness levels. The 2021 iPad Pro can hit up to 1,600 nits of peak HDR brightness, and 1,000 max full-screen brightness.
Paying no mind to the device's warranty, iFixit cracked open the display, separating the panel from the diffuser, to take a closer look. Part of the motivation behind this was a sense of intellectual curiosity. Putting the diffuser before a microscope shows a mesh of tiny light sources, each a fraction of the size of a grain of rice.
But it also bodes well on the repairability front. Separating the two components that form the screen required heat, as well as some delicate prying with a plectrum. Intimidating? Sure, but certainly doable.
As you would expect with the preliminary nature of this teardown, the publication has not yet assigned a repairability score, although the footage shown is fairly encouraging.
Still, the ease with which a device can be disassembled doesn't necessarily translate into better repairability. Starting with the iPhone 12, Apple has shown a discouraging enthusiasm for component serialisation, in which the constituent parts are inextricably linked together through software.
In practice, as we saw with the iPhone 12, successfully transplanting components from one donor device to a broken one is a fraught process. This decision was seemingly intended to frustrate independent repair shops, and direct custom to authorised outlets which can circumvent these restrictions.
It wouldn't be a surprise to see Apple follow the same path with its latest and greatest iPad Pro 12.9. ®