In their typical fashion, the prying hands over at iFixIt have dismantled Apple’s latest 9.7-inch iPad, which is being referred to around the web as the iPad 5, and they were able to unearth a few interesting discoveries while dissecting the slate to its core.
As you can see from iFixIt’s side-by-side comparison image below, aside from a somewhat more compact Wi-Fi module embedded in the iPad 5, there’s really not much in the way of internal disparities between the new budget-friendly offering and Apple’s first generation iPad Air, which debuted back in November, 2013.
The main differences come in the form of an upgraded Apple A9 SoC, which is actually a rather substantial upgrade over the A7 chip powering the original iPad Air. Also absent from the original iPad Air was a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which first debuted on Apple’s iPad Air 2, and was carried over to the new iPad as well.
iFixIt goes on to note that Apple’s latest iPad is a bit more difficult to repair than the original iPad Air and Air 2, mainly due to the fact that its front panel is glued down to the device itself using a super-strong adhesive material, and apparently a good amount of it to boot. Unlike the original iPad Air or Air 2, however, Apple’s new iPad does have one key benefit going for it: the battery is not soldered down to the logic board, which theoretically means it could be replaced if the need ever arises.
In relation to the original iPad Air, iFixIt also noted three key external differences: most notably, the absence of a mechanical lock switch on the side of the device, smaller microphone holes, as well as a single row of speaker holes on the bottom of the chassis.
Interestingly, while Apple claimed in its original press release that the new iPad boasted a “brighter display,” the folks at iFixIt appear to cast doubt on those claims — noting that the device lacks a fully laminated display and anti-reflective coating, which was perhaps intended to keep manufacturing costs down.
“In Apple’s press release announcing the iPad 5, they told us it comes equipped with a brighter 9.7-inch Retina display,” iFixIt noted. “Our question is: brighter than what? It doesn’t look that different from the Air 1’s display. If they mean brighter than the Air 2, then that may simply be due to reverting to the unfused display design of the Air 1.”
Still, at just $329 for a 32 GB model with Wi-Fi, Apple’s iPad 5 is the least expensive iPad in its class the company has released to date and will make a great device for beginners, for use in the education field, or simply as a first or second iPad for use around the house.