In this teardown, we rip into an Apple iPhone 6s, and I’m super excited to see the guts of this ultra-high-tech device.

Beyond Repair

This phone was donated as a teardown candidate. It was permanently damaged, and beyond repair, after being dropped—the screen had separated from the rest of the phone. Fortunately, the condition of the phone meant that I didn’t have to pry it open.

 

Figure 1. Looking at the internals of an Apple iPhone 6s.

 

Taking Weight Measurements

To this day, I can still remember how surprised I was when I picked up an iPhone for the first time—it was an iPhone 5 and I was at the local Apple store. Ever since then, I continue to be surprised (shocked) by the iPhones’ rather unassuming heavy weight. So, during this teardown, I’ll be taking periodic weight measurements to see which part(s) weigh the most and which are the biggest contributors to the phone’s total weight. The first measurement is the phone’s total weight: with all its pieces still attached, it weighs in at 142 grams.

 

Figure 2. The phone’s total weight.

 

Many Itsy Bitsy Tiny Screws

During the teardown I removed 58 tiny screws from the phone. All were smaller than a millimeter in diameter, and most had their threads coated with blue Loctite (thread locker). At barely 1 gram, all 58 screws combined were insignificant to the phone’s total weight.

 

Figure 3. 58 tiny screws were removed from the phone, all less than 1mm in diameter.

 

Figure 4. All 58 screws combined weigh 1 gram.

 

The All-Popular and Well-Known Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Battery

This little (okay, big) power-house battery (6.55Whr) definitely is a major contributor to the phone’s overall weight. During its removal from the phone, I was surprised by how extremely secure it was attached to the phone given that it was held in place simply by two thin (albeit superman strength) strips of double-sided tape. Fortunately, the tape was easy to remove, and after disconnecting the battery’s wires (actually a flex circuit…more on this later) the battery came right out.

 

Figure 5. The large lithium-ion battery removed from the phone.

 

Figure 6. Phone’s battery electrical specs.

 

As can be seen in the figure below, this battery’s weight is a large contributor to the phone’s overall weight. At 25 grams, it accounts for nearly 18% of the phone’s total weight.

 

Figure 7. The phone’s battery contributes ~18% of the phone’s total weight.

 

Only One Rigid PCB and Many Flex Circuits

Prior to viewing the guts of this iPhone, I was expecting to see multiple rigid PCBs utilized in this design, but I was pleasantly surprised to find only one. However, what really amazed me was the discovery of many flex circuits—flexible PCBs—used throughout the design (see figure 8 below). Take note that they are all black in color; the use of black internal components has long been a tradition for Apple.

 

Figure 8. The iPhone uses many flex circuits (three are shown here), and all are black…true to Apple’s tradition.

 

The lone rigid PCB is home for all the Apple secret-sauce and ultra-high-performance processors and ICs. The black surfaces on the two components (figure 9 below) are actually EMI countermeasures (foil). After cutting away the EMI foil, you can see the true complexity of the internal components of these magical phones.

 

Figure 9. Rigid PCB contains high-end processors. The black coverings are EMI countermeasures.

 

Figure 10. Some of Apple’s hardware secret sauce lives under the EMI countermeasures.

 

Removing All the Components from the Phone

With all the screws removed, the battery set aside, and the flex circuits disconnected, the remaining components were fairly easy to remove from the phone’s case (see figure below).

 

Figure 11. Internal components removed from the phone case.

 

The combined weight of the internal components (sans the 58 screws) is 25 grams. Recall the battery alone weighs this same amount.

 

Figure 12. The weight of phone’s internal components.

 

The Remaining Pieces

The final pieces of the phone include:

  • One side of the phone’s case: 28 grams
  • The other case half and the LCD screen: 49 grams
  • Various sheet metal parts: 14 grams

 

Figure 13. The phone’s plastic case (one of two parts).

 

Figure 14. The LCD screen and the other half of the phone’s case.

 

Figure 15. The sheet metal parts and pieces.

 

Summary

It goes without saying that Apple iPhones are designed and manufactured with high quality in mind. As shown in this teardown, the hardware of Apple phones are well organized, highly complex, and highly compact.

Regarding the phone’s weight measurements, I’ve summarized my findings below:

  • Phone’s total weight: 142 grams
  • Phone’s case with LCD screen: 49 grams (~35% of phone’s total weight)
  • Phone’s case (the other half): 28 grams (~20%)
  • Battery: 25 grams (~18%)
  • Internal components (rigid PCBs, flex circuits, camera, processors and ICs, speaker and microphone): 25 grams (~18%)
  • Various sheet metal parts: 14 grams (~10%)
  • Screws: 1 grams (<1%)

 

Next Teardown: Amazon Fire TV

 

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