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iPhone X iFixit teardown exposes Face ID, reveals two battery cells

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How repairable is the iPhone X?

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The iPhone X’s FaceID components
Photo: iFixit

iFixit teardowns have been synonymous with iPhone launches, and today’s iPhone X teardown reveals how Apple has completely revamped the phone’s innards, figuring new ways to pack more features inside its very slim body.

The teardown reveals some surprises, including two battery cells in the iPhone X (a first in any iPhone model). The combined battery has a 2,716mAh capacity, which is slightly bigger than the battery found in the 8 Plus, which is 2,691mAh. iFixit says the iPhone X’s dual-cell battery design is more about saving space rather than changing the capacity of the battery itself. The two-cell design allows for more “creative shapes and placement,” and so Apple is able to take better advantage of leftover space.

Most of the phone’s real estate is taken up by this new dual-cell battery, and iFixit notes that the phone’s logic board has also shrunk quite a bit. The motherboard is 70 percent the size of the iPhone 8 Plus’, and Apple was able to fit more tech into that smaller space by folding the board in half. (The two halves are soldered together, iFixit states.) This is also the first double-stacked board in an iPhone, at least since the very first iPhone. Further, iFixit notes that when it tallied the total area of the separate layers, it amounted to 135 percent of the iPhone 8 Plus’ logic board area.

The teardown also reveals the sensors that make up Face ID, the new form of identification that replaces Touch ID on the iPhone X. A flood illuminator is embedded above the display, which projects infrared light onto the user’s face. The front camera then confirms a face. An IR dot projector in the far right of the device then projects a dot matrix over the face, creating a 3D map. Finally, the IR camera on the left of the display checks that map and sends corresponding data to your iPhone X, unlocking the phone.

The iPhone X components vs the first generation iPhone
Photo: iFixit

It’s also eye-opening to see how far the iPhone has come in 10 years — especially when you compare teardowns of the original first-generation iPhone to the iPhone X. The iPhone X has so much packed into the device, and there are more components, which have become noticeably smaller and more compact. iFixit says the density of the iPhone X’s “connectors and components is unprecedented.”

iFixit notes that display and battery repairs are still a priority in the design of the phone and that a cracked display can be replaced without removing any of the biometric Face ID components. The team warns that if the back glass breaks, though, “you’ll be removing every component and replacing the entire chassis.” The iPhone X gets a repairability score of 6 out of 10 making it a bit easier to repair than the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (which scored 4) or the Essential Phone (1), but harder than the Google Pixel XL (7). Apple’s other flagship, the iPhone 8, scored a 6, too.