Second 2020 iPad teardown shows how LiDAR differs from Face ID

A second disassembly of the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro has shown that the interior of the latest model is quite similar to that of the previous incarnation, while a demonstration of the LiDAR addition reveals that it will not offer the same level of sensitivity as the TrueDepth camera network.

Rear camera module removed from iPad Pro 2020 (via iFixit)

The second in the space of a few days, the last usual disassembly of the iPad Pro 2020 by iFixit is an unusual affair, since it is mainly published on video. Saved under a lockout caused by the coronavirus, disassembly is brief, but follows the same procedure as previous releases of repair equipment, but with some differences.

Separating the screen from the rest of the iPad relied on picks and a hair dryer, rather than using a heating pad to release the adhesives. As with the iPad Pro 2018, the back cover must be twisted to remove the screwed cables and shields in order to release it completely.

The new camera module separates via a few screws, with an ultra-large 10-megapixel module with a 12-megapixel camera and the LiDAR scanner, which, as previously noted, is made up of two lens cap modules stacked on the above one and the other. It is assumed that the modules consist of a VCSEL transmitter and a reception sensor, the first emitting a network of infrared points which are picked up by the sensor.

Using an infrared camera, disassembly revealed that the LiDAR system emits a regular pattern of dots, much less than that used by the TrueDepth camera. As it is not intended for Face ID type applications, it seems that this iteration is just for more simplified depth mapping over a wider range, instead of requiring finer measurements of a face.

Infrared point projections for the LiDAR module (left), TrueDepth camera (right) (via iFixit)
Infrared point projections for the LiDAR module (left), TrueDepth camera (right) (via iFixit)

The front cameras are removed in a single set, with hardware similar to the previous module. The USB-C port is always modular at the base, rather than a wired component, making it an ideal candidate for easy repairs.

The motherboard is, as for the iPads, glued inside with wires passing under it, and is flanked by the batteries. On the card is the A12Z Bionic chip with 6 GB of RAM, against 4 GB in previous models.

The batteries are held in place with removable adhesive, although ordinary adhesive is still used for certain areas, which makes it difficult to replace them. The two cells have a total capacity of 36.59 watt hours, the same as the model it replaces.

In iFixit’s summary of the new model, it is said to have “fairly abysmal repair procedures” despite the incremental upgrades for users. The use of adhesives and precarious lifts leads to a “repairability” score of only 3 out of 10.

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