New iPad Under the Skin: Just an Updated iPad Air?

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(Last Updated On: November 20, 2020)

Last week on the iFixYouri blog, we mentioned the new iPad, now being widely referred to as iPad 5. We wrote that this new 9.7-inch iPad seems to be just a first-gen iPad Air with a few tweaks and less Air-ness (thicker, heavier). It turns out that we weren’t totally wrong. The device-dismantling extraordinaires at iFixit found evidence of this when they performed a teardown of the device.

“So remember how we said this was similar to the first Air? We were serious—take a look inside the Air 1 and iPad 5 respectively. Not much has changed.”

The teardown pros were even able to perfectly attach a iPad Air 1 display to the iPad 5. The main difference, they noted, is that the LCD and glass are unlaminated, hurting picture quality a tiny bit while making repairs a whole lot easier. Apple claimed this screen is “new” and will be better than ever, but iFixit doubts that claim.

“In Apple’s press release announcing the iPad 5, they told us it comes equipped with a “brighter 9.7-inch Retina display.” 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.”

On the outside, it’s obvious Apple manufactured a new casing. There are a few major differences from the Air housing: the lack of a mechanical lock switch, a single row of speaker holes, and microphone holes instead of a larger microphone “vent.” Inside, there’s a Touch ID sensor and the associated hardware necessary for running that. However, this takes the repairability down a few notches.

“Thumbs up for fingerprint reading. Thumbs down for a harder repair, since the sensor is uniquely paired to its logic board at the factory. At least this lovely button is still a button (unlike the solid-state un-button that debuted on 7-series iPhones).”

There you have it. The screen on the iPad 5 will be easier to replace (and that’s the most common repair) but the addition of a Touch ID button will cause the same problems as with those repairs in the iPhone 7 and 2016 MacBook Pro. So go ahead; buy the new iPad 5, safe in the confidence that iFixYouri will be able to repair whatever you do to it. Just bring it to any of our walk-in locations or use our convenient mail-in repair service.