Teardown Shows Off the Guts of the iPad Pro's Smart Keyboard

Following teardowns of the Apple Pencil and the iPad Pro itself, iFixit today completed a disassembly of Apple's new first party Smart Keyboard accessory. The teardown of the keyboard doesn't provide much in the way of surprising internal revelations, but does give those interested a closer look at the accessory's conductive fabric, dome switches underneath the keys, and underlying circuit board powering the device.

smart keyboard teardown
iFixit first noted the "high tech fabric" lining the outside of the Smart Keyboard, guessing that the fabric could be nylon due to its tactile similarities to a windbreaker. Once peeled back, the stripped away fabric reveals a row of dome switches beneath, along with a stiffening weight placed in the spacebar for a more reliable return each time a user hits the rectangular key.

Once the Smart Keyboard is cracked open, iFixit discovered the circuit board at the center of the device, but with no added flourishes like LEDs, batteries, or cooling fans due to the accessory's slim size. Once the keyboard frame was pulled away, the site noticed "intestinal squiggles" lining the plastic casing that direct toward small vents on the topside of the keyboard, most likely used to release air pressure each time a key is pressed, according to iFixit.

smart keyboard teardown 2
Lastly the teardown revealed the "brains of the operation" in the form of an ARM-based microcontroller from STMicroelectronics, along with a final layer of three fabric strips at the base of the keyboard. Made of Apple's "conductive fabric" that connects the accessory's smart connector (where the iPad Pro is placed) with the actual keyboard, the fabric allows for a "two-way flow of power and data" that should be able to withstand a lifetime of unfolding the Smart Keyboard.

smart keyboard teardown 3
Overall, iFixit gave the iPad Pro's Smart Keyboard a repairability score of 0 out of 10, meaning once it was torn down the accessory is impossible to repair. The site noted that while the Apple-made accessory is quite durable, it must be damaged to gain entry and none of its internal components can be removed and replaced without causing fatal harm to the device.

Related Roundup: iPad Pro

Top Rated Comments

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62 months ago

These 'tear-downs' and rating for repairabilty are so ten years ago. Honestly, who cares?

People who read this article may care. I read it, I care. So there's that.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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62 months ago

These 'tear-downs' and rating for repairabilty are so ten years ago. Honestly, who cares?

Me. Fascinating to see how it's built. As for the scores I think FixIt give EVERYTHING a score. No need to get overexcited about it. There's probably an actual apple being peeled in the FixIt archives, and getting a 1/10 score because you can superglue it together afterwards but eatability suffers.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
62 months ago

These 'tear-downs' and rating for repairabilty are so ten years ago. Honestly, who cares?

People who read this article may care. I read it, I care. So there's that.

I care. I find the teardowns very interesting. Seeing Apple's design thoughts are fun. The scores, of course, are irrelevant.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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62 months ago

Assigning a "repairability score" to small devices like a keyboard, mouse, pencil, earpods etc is just stupid. Yes, I want to repair my $30 earphones. I think iFixit gets upset because they know they can't sell parts for it and make money. If something is cheap like a keyboard or mouse, I'll get it replaced under warranty or buy a new one if it's out of warranty. I'm not wasting my time fixing something that's not meant to be serviced.

I remember cleaning my white Apple Pro keyboard after looking at a teardown like this. I appreciate them even if you have the money to waste. What’s ironic is you are probably one of those people that laud the EPEAT/Energy Star ratings and how Apple use lots of renewable energy, then in the same breath spout the crapola above about throwing things out like you just did.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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62 months ago

Nice teardown, but WHY THE **** IS THERE A REPAIRABILITY SCORE FOR AN ACCESSORY, IT'S NOT GOING TO BE REPAIRABLE EVER, DEAL WITH IT.

That's what they do. Why are you so angry?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
62 months ago

These 'tear-downs' and rating for repairabilty are so ten years ago. Honestly, who cares?

It's quite simple. iFixit sells replacement components (new and sued) and the tools in which to repair innumerable consumer electronics. To help market their product they make and give away the instructions for each repair on their site.

While you may be one that wouldn't want to replace an aging battery, a bad fan, a cracked screen, whatever, many people do, hence the market they serve. If have no such inkling to understand how electronics work or to do a repair then I have to wonder why you're reading the article in the first place.

Now, at this point I'm guessing your thinking, "But the Smart Keyboard got a 0 out of 10 so it can't be repaired," and you'd be correct, which means iFixit won't be selling any Smart Keyboard components, iFixit readers that may consider fixing one will see that it's not possible, and those that see some questionable website selling "genuine" Smart Keyboard components will know something is up because of iFixit's efforts to dissect CE for our benefit.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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