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iPad teardown shows minimal changes in 4th gen model

Having already ripped apart Apple's iPad mini last week, the teardown artists at iFixit turned their attention to the new full-sized iPad on Friday and found that the fourth-gen tablet isn't a whole lot different than the iPad 3 released just over six months ago.

The teardown site rated the newer iPad, the Wi-Fi version with the same repairability score as the third-gen device - a meagre 2 out of 10. That's also the same low repairability score that the mini received from iFixit on Thursday and just one up from the site's lowest ever score, a 1 out of 10 issued to the MacBook Pros Apple released back in June.

As with the iPad mini and third-gen iPad, iFixit found a lot of glue holding together the latest tablet's hard-to-access components, including the battery, a trend in Apple products that the site called "unfortunate."

Though iFixit found some hardware changes in the fourth-gen iPad, the site had some soothing words for folks who ponied up for the third-gen model only to see Apple come out with a new tablet so soon after launching the last iPad.

"If you're kicking yourself because you just bought an iPad 3, we've got some welcome news: not too much has changed in the iPad 4," the site said in a statement, adding that the latest iPad "remains the same in terms of design and repairability" as the pervious device.

The teardown site figured that the "most striking addition to the fourth-generation [iPad] is the Lightning connector," Apple's new all-digital 8-pin proprietary computer bus and power connector that's also replaced the company's old 30-pin dock connector in other new devices like the iPad mini, iPhone 5, and the fifth-gen iPod touch.

The fourth-gen iPad also sports Apple's new ARM-based A6X System-on-a-Chip, an upgrade from not just the third-gen 9.7in iPad but also from the brand new, 7.9in iPad mini, which is powered by the older A5 chip.

iFixit also discovered that the latest iPad's 1.2-megapixel Facetime camera is "slightly thicker" — and with the ability to shoot 720p HD video, a lot more powerful - than the previous tablet's Facetime camera, but was hard-pressed to find much else that had changed in the shortest time yet between iPad generations.

One change that probably speaks more to Apple's business strategy than its technological innovation was the presence of an LCD made LG Electronics. As iFixit noted, previous iPads have used displays made by Samsung, but Apple has reportedly been trying to reduce its ties to Samsung on the supplier front in the wake of ongoing IP disputes with the South Korean tech giant, which also happens to be a top manufacturer of Android-based smartphones.

Here's a rundown of prominent components iFixit found in the fourth-gen iPad:

- Apple A6X Processor

- Hynix H2JTDG8UD2MBR 16 GB NAND Flash

- 2 x 4Gb Elpida LP DDR2 = 1 GB DRAM in two packages

- Apple 338S1116 Cirrus Logic Audio Codec

- 343S0622-A1 Dialog Semi PMIC

- Apple 338S1077 Cirrus Logic Class D Amplifier

- Broadcom BCM5974 Touch Screen Controller

- Broadcom BCM5973A1 Touch Screen Controller

- Texas Instruments CD3240B0 Touch Screen Line Driver

- 2 x Fairchild BCHAH/FDMC Voltage Regulator / Reference

- Murata 339S0171 Broadcom BCM4334 WiFi Module