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iPad 3G Repair Guide

Bookending the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G unboxing from earlier today is the other classic staple of geekdom: the tear-down. As usual iFixit did the deed, and here’s what they uncovered:

  • There are actually FIVE antennas in this iPad. Two antennas handle the cell reception — one is in the RF window on top, the other attaches to the LCD frame. A single GPS antenna is also housed in the RF window on top. Just like the iPad Wi-Fi, there are two antennas that handle Wi-Fi / Bluetooth connectivity, one in the Apple logo and another to the left of the dock connector.
  • Apple looks to be using the entire LCD frame as an antenna!
  • Apple uses the same 3G baseband processor in both the iPhone 3GS and the iPad 3G.
  • The baseband processor in question is the Infineon 337S3754 PMB 8878 X-Gold IC. It was actually white-labeled on the production unit, but with enough sleuthing we were able to confirm its true identity.
  • The iPad 3G has a Broadcom BCM4750UBG Single-Chip AGPS Solution, whereas the iPhone 3GS uses an Infineon Hammerhead II package. Big win for Broadcom!

Head on over if you want to see the whole, sordid strip-down… and don't forget to see our iPad Wifi Teardown / Disassembly guide.

Frequently Asked Questions





 

Step 1 — iPad 3G Teardown

  • The much awaited iPad 3G is finally in the hands of iFixit!

  • The Wi-Fi + 3G iPad. We got a sneak peak of the internals of this tablet a month ago by poking around on the FCC's database.

  • The 3G iPad is visually distinguished from its Wi-Fi-only sibling by a black plastic RF window.

  • The 3G iPad supports UMTS/HSDPA on 850, 1900, and 2100 MHz and GSM/EDGE on 850, 900, 1800, and 1900 MHz.

  • In a dramatic shift for Apple, the iPad is unlocked, and not tied down to a specific carrier.

  • Alas, in the US, AT&T is the only carrier that operates 3G on frequencies the iPad supports. T-Mobile should work, but only on the slower EDGE network.

 

Step 2

  • The iPad's model number is A1337 as previously suggested by the FCC filing. Yes, we think that's l33t.

  • There's no use wasting anymore time, let's see what makes this puppy growl.

  • We'll be comparing the internals of this production unit to the preproduction FCC photos we exclusively unveiled a month ago.

 

Step 3

After some careful prying around with a metal spudger, the display assembly can be removed from the rear case.

Due to the addition of 3G connectivity, there's an extra antenna cable that must be disconnected before the two halves are free.

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Step 4

  • The innards of the iPad 3G (left) and the iPad Wi-Fi (right).

  • Some major differences include the 3G chip, SIM card board, and the plastic antenna cover at the top of the case.

  • The 3G iPad is not nearly as barren as the Wi-Fi-only iPad, but it's still not jam-packed.

 

Step 5

  • Pry up the antenna on the communications board with an iPhone opening tool. This is one of two antennas on the communications board.

  • The communications board is secured by T4 Torx screws.

  • Upon removing the screws, the communications board slides out of its socket on the logic board. The connection socket style is similar to a Mini PCI Express card.

 

Step 6

  • Removing the micro-SIM card. That's a really small SIM card!

  • The iPad's SIM card measures 12mm x 15mm. That's just under half the size of the standard size SIM card from an iPhone 3GS.

  • You could cut up a full-size SIM card and turn it into a Micro-SIM. The contacts are fully compatible.

 

 

Step 7

New to the 3G iPad, there's an antenna attached to the backside of the display assembly. The copper foil piece seen in the picture connects to the silver metal LCD frame. Apple has cleverly used this same piece of metal for both structural and electrical purposes.

 

 

Step 8

Use the flat end of a spudger to pry the SIM card slot off the rear case.

It sure doesn't look like Apple was tight on space. As far as we know, the only purpose of this board is to connect the SIM card to the logic board.

 

Step 9

Comparison between the iPad 3G's (left) and the iPad Wi-Fi's (right) logic board.

When comparing the two models, the top half of the Wi-Fi's rear case has copious amounts of open space.

 

Step 10

Use the tip of a spudger to disconnect the GPS antenna ZIF cable connector.

The GPS antenna assembly can be pried off the plastic antenna cover with the flat end of a spudger.

 

 

Step 11

The front and back of the GPS antenna assembly.

 

Step 12

  • Lift the cellular antenna from its housing.

  • The cellular antenna remains.

  • From left to right: the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, GPS, and 3G antennas, respectively.

 

Step 13

  • The 3G board with A4 processor.

  • The second shot is the main board from the Wi-Fi iPad.

  • Key differences?

    • The most obvious change is the addition of the connector on the right side of the board for the communications board.

    • More subtle is an additional small IC above the A4 chip next to the connector for the GPS antenna. This may be a signal processor, but we can't firmly identify it: T3J 927 632567

 

Step 14

Bottom of the main board.

Nothing much to see here, it's exactly the same as the Wi-Fi board.

 

Step 15

Apple soldered the EMI shield onto the communications board, making it challenging for us to show you the chips. Despite this adversity, we pressed forward undaunted, fearlessly unsoldering the board to reveal to you.
 

Step 16

  • Bottom of communications board.

  • The second photo is from the pre-release FCC unit. The bottom of our board has additional part number markings, but is otherwise identical to the pre-production unit.

  • It's important to note that the Broadcom A-GPS package is on the communications board, explaining why the Wi-Fi-only iPad does not have GPS.

 

Step 17

That wraps up this teardown of the iPad 3G.

Don't forget to take a peek at its cousin, the iPad Wi-Fi Teardown for more iPad related mayhem.