iFixit gives us the inside scope on Apple's latest product releases

What are the hidden surprises inside Apple's latest product range? iFixit's annual tear down jamboree reveals some of these secrets.

Apple, iFixit, iPhone, iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, Apple Watch, Apple TV 4K, tear down

iFixit has completed its annual tear down of the latest available new Apple products: iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple TV 4K. What did they find? Here are the highlights and a list of component suppliers identified in the teardowns.

iPhone secrets

iFixit seems to think the glass used on the back of the new iPhones is stronger than that used on the Galaxy S8 (as also evidenced by this drop test), but they note that replacement of that part will be very challenging.

“We’re not really sure how Apple plans to replace it,” they said. They noted that the glass was likely to crack if engineers attempted to remove it, making some repairs nearly impossible to achieve — though the waterproofing’s good.

[ Also on Computerworld: Apple takes the slow road to wireless charging ]

The tear down also revealed the iPhone 8’s 1,821 mAh battery to be smaller than that used in the iPhone 7, and 40 percent smaller than the one you’ll find inside a Galaxy S8. Despite this, Apple claims battery life is just as good as the last iPhone. The teardowns also show that some of the components used in the iPhone 8 are similar/the same as those used inside the iPhone 7, including earpiece speakers.

The teardown does point out that while repairs remain complex, the need for some repairs should be reduced. The move to wireless charging means less wear on the Lightning port, while the dust and water seals should reduce occurrences of liquid damage.

The iPhone 8 holds 2GB RAM. The iPhone 8 Plus holds 3GB. Both products earn reparability scores of six out of 10. The iPhone 8 teardown is here, while the iPhone 8 Plus is described here.

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Apple Watch secrets

In an unusual twist, iFixit calls it a “weird twist of tech” that Apple Watch added features without really changing. …” They speculate that this may mean the hardware has been “LTE-ready for a generation already.” The antennas and display haven’t changed much, they revealed, and there’s some new silicon, but that’s about it.

One more thing: The new watch has a barometric sensor, but so did the Series 2. “Was the Series 2 almost an LTE watch?” iFixit asks.

Additional highlights include a slightly bigger battery (presumably to support the LTE connectivity) and new RF chips. One weird oversight in the analysis was the lack of information regarding the new W2 wireless chip or who made the internal modem. The watch earns a reparability scores of six out of 10. Read the whole Apple Watch teardown here.

Apple TV 4K changes

There are a few changes in the Apple TV 4K, including a much faster iPad-class processor and 3GB RAM. The faster chip means the system gets hot, so Apple has placed a new fan assembly inside the device and has redesigned the bottom of the system to improve its thermal venting. It earns a reparability score of eight out of 10. You can read the whole Apple TV teardown here.

Who is in the Apple chain?

We know that most Apple manufacturing goes through Foxconn and TSMC. We also know that components, including battery, RAM and displays, are sourced from a range of firms, including Toshiba, Huizhou Desay Battery, Sony, Omnivision, and even Samsung. The iFixit teardowns reveal some of the other component suppliers who profit from Apple’s product success.

Apple TV

  • Nidec brushless motor
  • Broadcom
  • SK Hynix
  • Murata
  • Toshiba
  • Megachips

Apple Watch Series 3

  • Analog Devices
  • NXP
  • ST Microelectronics
  • Avago
  • Skyworks

iPhone 8/8 Plus

  • Qualcomm
  • Skyworks
  • Avago
  • NXP
  • Murata
  • SanDisk
  • Broadcom
  • Toshiba

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