Is Anyone Surprised iFixit Gave Apple's Smart Keyboard A Zero?
iFixit oh how you are a dual sided beast of a website. Sure you provide a great service, detailed breakdowns and I've even used you many times to take apart a broken hard drive enclosure, even though getting the darn thing back together was a nightmare. Yet why not place a few honest comments about your tear downs of Apple products?
Apple's smart keyboard is a new product, not just for Apple but for the general world of keyboards. Granted it's easy to class all keyboards as the same. Theres a bit of plastic on a switch and most keys feel ok, unless it's on a cheap keyboard.
Straight off in the teardown once again iFixit are showing a touch of anti Apple. Just in case you think I'm being a fanboy, check out this ridiculous scratch test iFixit posted about the iPhone screen. Just in case you don't want to read it iFixit gave an iPhone to a toddler to see if it could be scratched. You can guess the results.
Anyways first of on the latest teardown there's a comparison to say
The most marked difference between the key layouts is of course the Surface's trackpad. iPads just want to watch the world burn
Being a sealed unit, which Apple make no bones about, iFixit break out the knife and start ripping the keyboard apart and this is where things start to go awry.
Once the sealed keyboard is open they reveal
the brains of the operation is Apple's latest go-to microcontroller for peripheral input devices: ST Microelectronics STM32F103VB 72 MHz 32-bit RISC ARM Cortex-M3
The article then goes on to mention about Apple's mysterious "conductive fabric." and then
We're excited about this design feature, as these fabric strips should be more durable and fail-resistant than wires or traditional flex cables.
eventually reaching the conclusion
While durable, the keyboard is impossible to open without damaging, meaning no internal components can be replaced without destroying the device.
Theres one, very, very small question. Let's say the keys were replaceable, I could get a hold of a STM32F103VB 72 MHz 32-bit RISC ARM Cortex-M3 processor, and thats IF I could get one at a decent price. How the heck would you manage to deal with all those pins etc?
Before I go on a soldering iron mission sourcing the parts at a reasonable price is the first hurdle. Can anyone imagine an Apple certified supply chain partner risking their business selling to the public? Nope, not on your nelly.
I'm never going to say that products don't fail but let's not forget another thing here. Apples support service isn't bad, well thats unless you have a dead pixel, bleeding light, bad graphics card or one of many other issues Apple doesn't acknowledge until it really has to.
Quoting from the iFixit comments.
Have you ever seriously tried to repair a keyboard? Other than minor repairs, like replacing a key cap or hinges? The things are irreparable except mechanical keyboards with independent switches, and often expensive on a laptop.. There's not much to fix if anything goes wrong anyway.
Testify brother, praise it to the ceiling as you sir are 100% correct. I can go back 15 years to my first IBM 8086 with the most awesome keyboard ever. A keyboard that weighed over 1kg, made the best typing sound in the world.
You could hoover out dust, animal hair, Doritos between the keys for a "repair" but where try to purchase a single key that broke off? You couldn't so shouldn't that rank as a 0 out of 10 as well?
Spin forward to the Atari and Amiga years. Same problem. Sega Mega drive and the SNES controllers were also pretty much a binary thing. Granted screws made it easy to rip the thing apart yet back in the day with no internet where would you get parts from. Overall the Super Famicom ranks highly on the repair scale.
Just out of curiosity I checked out a PS4 teardown. This scored a great 8 out of 10 but interestingly iFixit also offered parts for repair, at a very decent price I might add. Xbox One also scores high with a few parts available for sale.
Sadly for my conspiracy based mind there's no pattern here although I do wonder how much merit is placed on the fact that even if you could open up the keyboard without tearing or ripping anything apart, what would the reparability score really be if you can't source the parts needed?