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.
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.
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.
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.