iPad 2 teardown: weight loss secrets revealed

17 Mar 2011

Apple managed to significantly reduce the thickness and weight of the iPad 2 compared to the iPad 1 by trimming the dimensions of several key components, most notably the battery, an IHS iSuppli teardown analysis has revealed.

The total thickness of the iPad 2 is 8.8 millimetres, down 34pc from 13.4 millimetres in the iPad 1. The iPad 2 weighs about 600 grams, down 15pc from 700 grams for the iPad 1.

“Leveraging its unparallelled design capabilities, Apple has upped the competitive ante on tablet form factors by substantially decreasing the thickness and weight of the iPad 2,” said Kevin Keller, principal analyst for the IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis Service.

“Apple has particularly focused on thickness as a point of differentiation for the iPad 2. Other new tablets coming to market, all of which are about as thick as the iPad 1, now look fat in comparison to the iPad 2. This is likely to cause a scramble as competitors rush to slim down to match Apple.” 

More cells yield smaller battery size

The biggest reduction in thickness came in the iPad 2’s battery subsystem. This section in the iPad 2 is 2.5 millimetres thick, a 59pc reduction from 6.1 millimetres for the iPad 1.

“The iPad 2 battery design represents a major shift from the iPad 1,” Keller said. “Apple moved from two thicker cells to three thinner ones, flattening out the entire battery structure. The new design also allowed Apple to eliminate an injection-molded plastic support frame from the battery subsystem, further cutting down its thickness.”

This refinement to the iPad design spurred a 10 to 15pc increase in its iPad 2 power density, which is a measure of battery life relative to the mass of the battery. It shrinks the iPad 2’s weight by 5 grams, while still delivering the same battery lifetime.

Slimming down

Another factor contributing to the thinner form factor was the elimination of a stamped sheet metal frame from the display. This slashed the size of the display subsystem to 2.5 millimetres, down 17pc from 3 millimetres for the iPad 1.

On the touchscreen overlay, Apple has adopted a new glass technology that allows it to reduce the thickness of the section while maintaining durability. The touchscreen overlay on the iPad 2 is 0.6 millimetres thick, down 25pc from 0.8 millimetres for the iPad 1.

“The concurrent release of the iPad 2 and the new Dragontrail Glass technology from Asahi Glass Co of Japan has led to speculation that Asahi may be the supplier of this durable new glass,” Keller said.

Physical tests conducted by IHS reveal the iPad 2 glass is more flexible than the glass used in the iPad 1, a characteristic of increased durability.

The iPad 2 also slightly trims the space between the rear of the display and the top of the batteries. This space now amounts to 1.3 millimetres in size, down 19pc from 1.6 millimetres in the iPad 1.

iPad 2 teardown

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years