updated 07:01 pm EST, Wed November 13, 2013
Minor improvements in repairability, but still rates a 2 out of 10
Repair firm iFixit has already gotten its hands on a new Retina iPad mini and deconstructed it, revealing many technical details of the construction, bemoaning Apple's continued trend of minimal repairability, and noting that the unit has a much bigger battery capacity than the previous iPad mini. While praising the reduced use of glue to secure components in the Retina Mini, iFixit still rates the new Retina Mini as a 2 out of 10 for repairability.
The company noted that by comparison, the recent Amazon Kindle Fire HDX tablet featured an easy and "adhesive-free" method of opening the casing, though the two products don't really compete against each other. The iFixit team, which offers repair tutorials and sells tools to allow users to do repairs, has naturally omitted the fact that sealed devices tend to need less repair apart from user-caused dropping or other abuse. Its rating on the Retina iPad mini is not intended as a reflection of the usefulness, durability or quality of the device, only as a guide to how difficult it is to repair by users who lack the full range of equipment available to professional technicians.
Among the discoveries in the teardown were that the battery for the Retina Mini is a 3.75V, 24.3W/hour, 6471mAh model - a significantly more powerful unit than the 16.3W/hour model seen in the previous iPad mini. The extra power is used by the Retina display to offer the 2048x1536 resolution while keeping the same 10-hour average battery life as before.
The display itself was seen to be made by LG and powered by a Parade DP675 LCD driver. The unit has dual Broadcom BCM5976 touchscreen controllers (identical to those used in the iPad Air and iPhone 5s), the exact same A7 processor seen in the iPhone 5s, the Apple M7 motion co-processor, an STMicro MEMS accelerometer and gyroscope (as seen in the iPad Air) and Toshiba NAND flash storage (16GB in the model torn down by iFixit).
One other notable difference the company reported in the new Wi-Fi only Retina Mini is that a formerly blank area of the motherboard (where cellular parts would go in the 3G/LTE models) is now cut out entirely, reducing the weight slightly.