iFixit completes seventh-gen iPod nano teardowns, finds additional NAND Flash memory, Bluetooth, assorted mystery chips

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Date: Tuesday, October 16th, 2012, 08:57
Category: Hardware, iPod, iPod Nano, News

It’s the teardowns that make things interesting.

Per iFixit, the teardown of the seventh-gen iPod nano revealed the following interesting components:

- The Toshiba THGBX2G7D2JLA01, which includes 16 gigabytes of NAND flash. The Broadcom BCM2078KUBG also includes both the Bluetooth and FM radios.

- A touchscreen controller from Texas Instruments identified as 343S0538.

- A chip from NXP Semiconductors labeled “1609A1″.

The device also contained the following mystery chips which have yet to be identified:
- 75203 23017

- 75292 98820

- 339S0193

- Apple 338S1099

- Apple 338S1146

iFixit also found that the battery in the new iPod nano is soldered directly to the logic board and adhered to the back of the display. They did find a plastic pull tab presumed to be in place for removing the battery, however they found the adhesive holding the battery in place was too strong.

The new 3.7V, 0.8Wh, 220 mAh battery is more than twice that of the 0.39 Wh rating of the sixth-generation iPod nano. The solutions provider also found that the LCD and digitizer glass are not fused together, which means each component could be replaced separately.

The same could not be said for the battery, Lightning connector, or volume controls, all of which are soldered to the logic board. Pulling out the logic board also removes the battery, button cable, Lightning connector, and headphone jack.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve snagged a new seventh-generation iPod nano and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple looking to sever ties, move mobile chip production away from Samsung

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Date: Monday, October 15th, 2012, 07:38
Category: Hardware, Rumor

For some reason, assorted lawsuits between two large tech companies don’t do anything to improve the relationship…

According to the Korea Times, Apple may be doing all it can to cut ties between itself and Samsung.

Though Apple still relies on Samsung for production of its mobile processors, the iPhone maker has apparently made it clear it will no longer use Samsung’s technology, according to an anonymous senior official at the Korean electronics company. The report indicated that the relationship between Samsung and Apple is “now about to become one-dimensional.”

“There are three types of chip clients,” the Samsung source reportedly said. “Some want us to handle everything from chip design, architecture and manufacturing. Some want us to just design and manufacture. Some wants us to just make the chips. Apple is now the third type.”

Samsung did reportedly earn more money for manufacturing the A6 processor for Apple’s iPhone 5 than the company did from building earlier custom chips. But at the moment, Samsung is said to be the only semiconductor manufacturer in the world that can meet Apple’s needs for high volume of chip production in a short period of time.

Apple did not collaborate with Samsung in the development of the A6 processor found in the iPhone 5. While Apple collaborated with Samsung in designing its earlier processors, the new A6 chip marks the first time Apple designed its own ARMv7 core.

The details come soon after Apple was revealed to have hired away former Samsung chip designer Jim Mergard. Prior to his brief stint at Samsung, Mergard designed and developed chips for Advanced Micro Devices for 16 years.

Another report last week also reiterated claims that Apple plans to have future chips built by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., taking away a key component from Samsung. It was said that TSMC could build quad-core 20-nanometer chips for Apple by as early as next year.

Leaked part photo suggests thinner next-gen iMac

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Date: Monday, October 15th, 2012, 06:39
Category: Hardware, iMac, Rumor

The upcoming iMac: It may, in fact, be thinner AND snazzier than the current design.

Per Chinese web site WeiPhone.com and MacRumors, a picture out of the Far East shows what is claimed to be the logic board and internal components for a new, thinner iMac set to be released by Apple in the near future.

The image and purported details about a redesigned iMac show Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antennas, fans, and a hard drive and have been argued to be from a next-gen iMac.



The new iMac will reportedly be considerably thinner than the current model, and the new shell design is said to be curved like a water droplet, rather than squared off.

The report also reaffirmed earlier claims that the new iMac display will be attached to the protective cover glass, allowing the all-in-one desktop to be even thinner.

Inventory of iMac desktops has been constrained at third-party resellers for some time now. Limited stock of hardware through resellers is often one of the first signs that Apple is drawing down inventory ahead of a product refresh.

Apple could unveil a new iMac as soon as this month, as the company is expected to hold a media event on Oct. 23 to unveil a new, smaller iPad with a 7.85-inch display. That event could present an opportunity for Apple to show off a redesigned iMac, as well as a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

While the new iMac is expected to be redesigned, reports have suggested that the desktop will not receive a high-resolution Retina display. Apple is allegedly set to release a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display that will join the 15-inch model, but Retina-caliber displays are apparently not yet available for 21.5-inch and 27-inch screens.

It’s possible that if the iMac lineup is refreshed, the 21.5-inch model could become available first, with the 27-inch model to follow soon after. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities first reported in August that the new screen lamination process for the redesigned iMac is apparently more difficult with the 27-inch model, which could lead to it launching weeks after the 21.5-inch option.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple extends warranty for 2009 iMac, cites known hard drive issue

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Date: Monday, October 15th, 2012, 06:39
Category: hard drive, Hardware, iMac, News

There’s nothing like a quiet warranty extension to put your mind at ease.

Per MacRumors, Apple on Friday quietly extended its iMac 1TB Seagate Hard Drive Replacement Program coverage back two years to include models sold from October 2009, effectively adding almost two years to the initiative which previously included machines sold between May and June of 2011.

News of the extension was posted to Apple’s Support webpage sometime on Friday, which noted email notifications were being sent to affected iMac owners who took the time to register their products. Users can also check the program’s webpage to confirm eligibility.

From the announcement:

Apple has determined that certain Seagate 1TB hard drives used in 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMac systems may fail. These systems were sold between October 2009 and July 2011.

iMac owners who were affected by the Seagate-specific failure can have their hard drives replaced for free from Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, or those who have already paid for repair or replacement can contact Apple for a possible refund.

First initiated in July 2011, the recall originally ran through July 23, 2012 and covered iMacs sold between May 2011 and July 2011. The program was subsequently extended for an additional year. With Friday’s announcement, the replacement plan has been broadened again, and now covers affected iMacs for three years after the first retail sale of the unit or until April 12, 2013, whichever provides longer coverage.

Seagate’s storage components were at the center of another fiasco in 2007, when Apple acknowledged that a number of MacBook and MacBook Pros shipped with faulty hard drives. An apparent manufacturing flaw caused the drive head of some units to permanently fail, scratching the disk patter and causing permanent data loss.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Manufacturing glitches/low yields leading to delay of 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina Display notebook

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Date: Friday, October 12th, 2012, 07:04
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

This might be a little harder than Apple expected.

Per the sometimes-reliable DigiTimes, a new rumor cites that Apple’s supply chain is struggling to build new 13-inch MacBook Pros because of difficulty in manufacturing Retina displays.

The article claims that shipments of three key forthcoming Apple products — the new MacBook Pro, along with a 7.85-inch iPad and new iMac — were delayed from September to October because of production issues.

In particular, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display was said to have seen delays because of “weak yields” of its high-resolution screen. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI Securities, who has a strong track record with predicting Apple product releases, originally said in July that Apple would release a new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro along with a new iMac in September, but those products failed to debut last month.

Kuo said that Apple had originally hoped for the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display to be unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, but the company was unable to do so because of a low yield rate and greater assembly difficulty. Instead, Apple only unveiled a 15-inch version of its redesigned Retina MacBook Pro.

According to Thursday’s report, Apple’s production issues go beyond the new MacBook Pro and also extend to the company’s so-called “iPad mini.” The publication claimed that Apple’s smaller iPad is “suffering low yields for components such as the display and chassis.” Unlike the third-generation iPad, the iPad mini is not expected to have a high-resolution Retina display.

Thursday’s report also said that while the iPad mini apparently has a chassis with material similar to the full-size 9.7-inch model, the 7.85-inch variety will allegedly have a “design and tactile feel” different from the full-size variety.

DigiTimes bases many of its reports off tips from Asian suppliers, but the publication has a shaky batting average with regards to accurate information on upcoming Apple products. However, the site was the first to report that Apple would adopt in-cell touch panels for its 2012 iPhone model — a prediction that came true with last month’s launch of the iPhone 5.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iFixit completes, posts full teardown report of fifth-generation iPod touch

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Date: Thursday, October 11th, 2012, 08:06
Category: Hardware, iPod Touch, News

The fifth-generation iPod touch is now available and shipping. And, that being said, it’s time to dissect the new media player to see what makes it tick.

Per the super cool cats at iFixit that posted their most recent teardown, the disassembly also found that the volume buttons, microphone, LED flash and power button are all connected via the same ribbon cable that easily peels from the rear case.

“We’ve seen this type of design in previous Apple products,” the solution provider noted. “The shift to a single ribbon cable is more cost-effective for the manufacturer, but unfortunately it has a negative impact on repairability.”

The battery inside the iPod touch was described as a “Plane Jane” component with a rating of 1030 mAh, an increase from the previous model’s 930mAh. The battery is advertised to provide up to 40 hours of music playback on a single charge.

iFixit also found that the 4-inch Retina display on the fifth-generation iPod touch is inferior to the screen on the iPhone 5. It characterized the iPod touch screen as “a much simpler, cheaper design.”

The teardown also offers a closer look at the 5-megapixel camera Apple has put into the fifth-generation iPod touch. The lens is capable of recording high-definition 1080p video at 30 frames per second.

The full list of parts found in the fifth-generation iPod touch are included below:
- A5 Processor

- Hynix H9TKNNN4KDBRCR 512 MB RAM

- Toshiba THGBX2G8D4JLA01 32 GB NAND flash

- Apple 3381064 dialog power management IC

- Murata 339S0171 Wi-Fi module

- Broadcom BCM 5976 touchscreen controller

- Apple 33831116

- STMicroelectronics AGD32229ESGEK low-power, three-axis gyroscope

- Texas Instruments 27AZ5R1 touchscreen SoC

If you’ve gotten your new iPod touch in the mail and had a chance to play with it, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Rumor: 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display to arrive in 2012

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Date: Wednesday, October 10th, 2012, 07:37
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

A 13-inch MacBook Pro with a snazzy Retina Display may be closer than you think.

Per CNET, research firm NPD DisplaySearch says Apple is likely to release a Retina display-packing 13-inch MacBook Pro before the year is out, with production currently on schedule for sometime in the fourth quarter.

Analyst Richard Shim stated that Apple will be launching its second Retina display MacBook Pro offering later this year, reiterating earlier reports suggesting the laptop would be released in fall 2012.

Shim confirmed that the portable would boast a screen resolution of 2,560-by-1,600 pixels, expectedly lower than the 15-inch model’s 2,880-by-1,800-pixel screen. The unit is also thought to be priced somewhere between the current top-of-the-line 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display and a high-tier 13-inch non-Retina model, though final cost is up in the air as the product is a new entry to Apple’s laptop stable.

While only speculation, Shim believes Apple is planning on debuting the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display after the iPad mini announcement, which is rumored to be coming up later in October.

It was reported in August that 13-inch Retina displays bound for an as-yet-unannounced MacBook were being produced, with initial output volumes supposedly higher than the 15-inch model. If true, Apple is preparing for an onslaught of orders as the current MacBook Pro with Retina display saw stock shortages when it was first announced in June.

A number of reported “leaks” regarding the 13-inch laptop have been circulating since the first Retina display MacBook Pro was released, including supposed online benchmark scores logged in June and August.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mac mini inventories begin to dwindle, could signal next-gen Ivy Bridge model

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Date: Tuesday, October 9th, 2012, 07:46
Category: Hardware, Mac mini, News

You love your Mac mini.

And you’re fond of the Ivy Bridge hardware architecture.

It’s time the two came together to form something nifty.

Per AppleInsider, numerous sellers are currently out of stock of the Mac mini. Specifically, for the 2.3-gigahertz model, stock-outs are seen at Amazon, MacConnection, and J&R, while the 2.5-gigahertz option is unavailable at Amazon, MacMall, MacConnection and J&R.

Supplies of the Mac mini Server with a 2-gigahertz Core i7 processor is also running dry, as Amazon advertised as of Monday that it only has a few units left in stock, while MacMall and MacConnection are currently sold out.

In addition, Macerkopf.de noted on Monday that supply of the Mac mini has also begun to run dry in Germany. Apple typically winds down its inventory ahead of a new product launch, and limited supply at third-party resellers is often one of the first signs that a hardware refresh is forthcoming.

However, supply fluctuations are not always a sign that a hardware refresh is imminent. For example, Apple’s iMac has seen its availability remain constrained off and on since July, but the all-in-one desktop has not yet been updated.

An updated Mac mini was not listed by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo among the eight new products Apple is rumored to launch this fall. However, he did indicate that Apple is planning to debut a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, as well as redesigned 21.5- and 27-inch iMacs.

Apple last updated the Mac mini in July of 2011, adding support for the high-speed Thunderbolt port while ditching the built-in optical disc drive that had been found on previous models. The current Mac mini lineup starts at US$599 and features Intel’s previous-generation Sandy Bridge processors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple begins shipping Lightning adapter orders

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Date: Monday, October 8th, 2012, 08:05
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

With any luck, that Lightning adapter you ordered should be arriving soon.

Per MacRumors, Apple on Monday sent out emails notifying a number of Australian customers that their Lightning to 30-pin Adapter orders had shipped, with an expected arrival date coming almost four weeks after sales of the iPhone 5 went live in September.

At least one buyer of Apple’s new adapter, which is currently only compatible with the iPhone 5, told MacRumors that his shipment is due for delivery on Oct. 9, more than three weeks after the handset went up for preorder in mid-September.

According to Apple, the move away from the legacy 30-pin plug to the 80 percent-smaller proprietary Lightning connector was required to build devices as slim and compact as the iPhone 5 and products from the next-generation iPod line. To help ease the transition to the new format, which effectively renders nearly a decade’s worth of “Made for iDevice” accessories obsolete, Apple is offering the US$29 Lightning to 30-pin Adapter along with a US$39 cabled version.

The reversible Lightning port dynamically assigns pins and uses only those signals required by a connected accessory, such as audio or USB data for a dock. The advanced protocol also carries authentication hardware, making it difficult for third-party manufacturers to build accessories without paying royalties to Apple.

It appears that Apple’s Lightning adapters will be indispensable for users tied to their accessories for some time, as Apple is said to have made significant changes to the “Made for iPhone” rules expected to be presented in November, allowing little to no room for accessory makers to build new products before Christmas.

If you’ve gotten your Lightning adapter and can offer any sort of feedback on it, please let us know how your experience went in the comments section.

Apple exploring wireless headphone technology for “active” users

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Date: Thursday, October 4th, 2012, 07:22
Category: Hardware, News, Patents

applelogo_silver

The wireless headphones you’ve been dreaming of…they could be en route.

And if wireless headphones are the biggest concern in your life, that’s saying something.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday reveals Apple is investigating a unique set of headphones, designed to withstand the rigors of athletic activity by eliminating the need for cumbersome cords.

The invention, titled “Detachable wireless listening device,” describes headphones designed to free listeners from the burden of wires by leveraging wireless transmission technology, such as Bluetooth.

Apple notes that, while inexpensive and efficient, common wired headsets like earbuds are “susceptible to becoming entangled while the end user is participating in physical activity.” The situation can be “particularly nettlesome” since the cord is somewhat firmly affixed to the portable media player by a 3.5mm plug, which can be a potential hazard to both the device and its user.

To solve the ever-present trouble of wired connections, Apple suggests a type of hybrid system that can receive audio data through a cable as with traditional earbuds, but can also be detached from the device and operate wirelessly when needed.

The clever “listening device” is connected to the player by either a physical clip or detent, or a series of magnets. When attached, the headphones are able to use the cord as an RF antenna with data being processed by the host device, and a means of power for charging a set of built-in batteries. While connected, the headphones receive audio signals through the cable and are able to tap into the media player’s power supply if needed, thus saving precious energy for untethered use.

If the headphones becomes detached, either by the user or unintentionally, the host device seamlessly pauses the charging process, activates a wireless module and begins to send audio over Bluetooth of some other form of radio communication. The patent notes that stereo audio can be provided to the wireless headset by assigning each side, right and left, a unique wireless address.

Apple cofounder Steve Jobs famously said in 2005 that Bluetooth was simply not suitable for headphones because the bandwidth was too low for high quality sound reproduction, and people are loathe to charge both an iPod or iPhone as well as a peripheral.

That was arguably true seven years ago, however the advent of low-power Bluetooth 4.0 components, combined with Thursday’s unique hybrid headphone invention, could one day lead to the level of technology Jobs was waiting for.

The “listening device” patent was filed in March 2011 with Jorge S. Fino credited as its inventor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.