iPad Pro 2024 has a hidden repairability upgrade

 A comic book on an iPad Pro 2024.
A comic book on an iPad Pro 2024.

Apple’s first tablet since 2022 is worth the wait. The iPad Pro 2024 has significant upgrades over its predecessor, including a ridiculously thin design, a stunning OLED panel and unprecedented power with the all-new M4 chipset, making it comfortably one of the best tablets you can buy right now.

But it appears there’s one significant upgrade under the surface that Apple hasn’t trumpeted: the battery is easier to replace than ever before.

The repairability gurus at iFixit have taken apart the new 13-inch model, and after getting past the glued-in OLED panel, getting to the battery is rather plain sailing. Just a few screws and brackets stand between you and the 38.99Wh cell for a relatively easy repair.

“This is a major improvement over previous generation iPads where a two-three hour ordeal saw the logic board and the kitchen sink removed before the battery could be accessed,” writes iFixIt’s Shahram Mokhtari in an accompanying blog post.

The bad news

But with that one big win comes a couple of disappointments. In the race to make a ‘size zero’ device, Apple has favored thinness over repairability in other respects, according to Mokhtari, with the daughterboard, speakers and various coax cables glued down.

“That means speakers will get destroyed if you try to remove them, the daughterboard gets bent out of shape if you look at it the wrong way, the heat-sensitive cameras are subject to a risky prying operation to remove, and all sorts of other shenanigans,” he explains.

iPad Pro 2024 and Apple Pencil Pro teardown
iPad Pro 2024 and Apple Pencil Pro teardown

Interestingly, the teardown also reveals that Apple has repeated the disappointing design choice it made with the M2 MacBook Air, where the base 256GB model features a single NAND chipset, making its read and write speeds slower than larger-capacity models. Apple fixed that in the M3 MacBook Air. Hence, it’s curious the same courtesy hasn’t been applied to the entry-level iPad Pro — but then iPadOS is less likely to bump up against the same performance bottlenecks as macOS for most people.

Still, the improvement in battery accessibility is a great thing. “This is a “size zero” device that’s the thinnest thing Apple has ever produced, and yet they still prioritized the replacement of the battery in their designs,” writes Mokhtari. “If that isn’t a win, I don’t know what is.”

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the new $129 Apple Pencil Pro, which is still designed to be used until the battery can take no more, and then discarded.

iPad Pro 2024 and Apple Pencil Pro teardown
iPad Pro 2024 and Apple Pencil Pro teardown

Getting to the battery requires an ultrasonic cutter, a whole host of tools and, in Mokhtari’s case, a bit of spilled blood. When you finally reach it, you’re left with a destroyed piece of electronics.

“It might be an improvement over the first-gen Pencil that was epoxied in, but this is still an unrepairable pile of e-waste,” concludes Mokhtari in the video.

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