Chipworks, iFixit Teardowns Reveal iPhone 7's Inner Workings

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2016-09-19
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    Chipworks, iFixit Teardowns Reveal iPhone 7's Inner Workings
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    Chipworks, iFixit Teardowns Reveal iPhone 7's Inner Workings

    iFixit and Chipworks disassembled the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus to gain insights into how Apple designed its latest smartphone. Here's what they found.
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    There's Intel Inside
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    There's Intel Inside

    Since the companies only disassembled a few iPhones, it's impossible to know how many of Apple's smartphones are running Intel processors. However, Chipworks noted that the iPhone 7 it tested had two Intel RF transceivers as well as a modem and power management chip from the processor maker.
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    Smartphone Rival Samsung Also Supplied Components
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    Smartphone Rival Samsung Also Supplied Components

    Samsung might be Apple's chief smartphone competitor, but it's also a company Apple relies upon for components. Both Chipworks and iFixit found that Samsung supplied at least memory chips in the iPhone 7. It's still unclear whether Samsung supplied other components, including the camera and perhaps even some A10 processors. The companies plan to continue their dissection to determine how many Samsung components are in the iPhone.
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    iPhone 7 Is Nearly Identical to iPhone 6s
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    iPhone 7 Is Nearly Identical to iPhone 6s

    Teardown experts at iFixit revealed that both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are identical in size to their iPhone 6s predecessors. That said, iFixit noted that the iPhone 7 models are slightly lighter than the iPhone 6s models, with the iPhone 7 Plus weighing 6.6 ounces while the iPhone 7 weighs 4.9 ounces. By comparison, the iPhone 6s Plus weighs 6.8 ounces, and the iPhone 6s weighs more than 5 ounces.
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    A Brighter but Not Impressive Display
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    A Brighter but Not Impressive Display

    Overall, the displays offered in the iPhone 7 models feature a 1,920-by-1,080 resolution on the Plus version and 1,334-by-750 on the standard option. Several competitors, including some from Samsung, have higher resolutions. However, the teardown companies found that the iPhone 7's display delivers more brightness than its predecessor, which should make its screens look nicer than the iPhone 6s displays.
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    There's Some Adjustment to Battery Sizes
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    There's Some Adjustment to Battery Sizes

    The iPhone 7 has a 1,960mAh battery, topping the 1,810mAh unit in the iPhone 6s. The iPhone 7 Plus, however, comes with a 2,900mAh battery, which is slightly smaller than the 2,915mAh battery in the iPhone 6s Plus. Apple has said the new iPhones will offer better-than-ever battery lives. Apparently, Apple has found a way to make the iPhone 7 Plus run more efficiently to deliver better battery life with a smaller power source.
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    Headphone Jack Didn't Make Way for a Second Speaker
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    Headphone Jack Didn't Make Way for a Second Speaker

    Many had hoped that Apple's decision to remove the headphone jack in its iPhone 7 would result in dual speakers. The deconstructions reveal that Apple hasn't actually installed a second speaker in place of the headphone jack. Instead, eliminating the headphone jack made room for the taptic engine that powers its Home button and, apparently, funnels some sound from that button, according to iFixit. To the disappointment of many, there is not another speaker behind the smartphone's second grille.
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    But Earpiece Speaker Is a Nice Upgrade
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    But Earpiece Speaker Is a Nice Upgrade

    Apple has delivered some nice upgrades to the earpiece speaker. Notably, it serves as both an earpiece and a loudspeaker. According to iFixit, the feature means the iPhone 7 technically can deliver stereo sound by pushing audio out of both the bottom of the device, where its single speaker sits, and the top of the device, where its earpiece resides.
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    Teardown Reveals Additional Waterproofing
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    Teardown Reveals Additional Waterproofing

    Apple has included several waterproofing features in the iPhone 7. For one, there's an adhesive between the screen and back plate that will attempt to prevent water intrusion. The teardown experts also found Apple used rubber gaskets capable of "holding back a 50-meter column of water." Those gaskets are located in several places, including near the SIM tray and speaker grilles.
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    That Home Button Isn't Going Anywhere
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    That Home Button Isn't Going Anywhere

    Apple was quick to note that its Home button has been redesigned, and the testers at iFixit and Chipworks have confirmed that. In fact, the companies say it might be better known as a Home "sensor," since it can't actually be pressed in. Instead, the Home button is a solid-state component that connects to a chip with a small cable. Most importantly, it's replaceable, which means if it goes bad, users will only need to get a new Home button instead of a whole new device.
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    It's Surprisingly Easy to Fix
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    It's Surprisingly Easy to Fix

    The iPhone hasn't always been easy to fix, but the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are more do-it-yourself-friendly, with iFixit giving them a "repairability" score of 7 out of 10, with 10 being easiest to repair. Some earlier Apple products had relatively low repairability scores, making it nearly impossible to fix them without Apple's help. The iPhone 7 earned its high score thanks to its battery's ease of access and the Home button's design. However, it was dinged for requiring four different screwdrivers to open.
 

Since the iPhone 7 reached the market in September, Apple's latest generation smartphone has been reviewed, analyzed and generally declared to be a worthy successor to last year's models. And now, it's been taken apart to reveal its innards. The folks over at iFixit and Chipworks have once again disassembled Apple's latest handset to reveal key features and interesting component discoveries, and to gain insights on how Apple designed its latest smartphone. The companies have found, for instance, how many Intel chip components were built into the models they examined. They also learned what's hiding behind the spot where the smartphone's headphone jack used to be and which other component suppliers worked with Apple to put the iPhone 7 in smartphone users' hands. In addition, they've announced some odd and perhaps disappointing findings, including the discovery that the iPhone 7's display is in desperate need of a major upgrade. This eWEEK slide show examines the overall results of the deconstructions performed by iFixit and Chipworks.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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