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Introdução

Apple has launched the next phase in their master plan to replace all personal computers with iPads. Apple's Smart Keyboard is an iPad Pro accessory designed to bring even more functionality to the table(t). But does it bring repairability? With teardown on our minds, we decide to find out just how smart this keyboard really is.

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Este teardown (desmontagem analítica) não é um guia de reparo. Para reparar seu/sua Smart Keyboard, use o nosso manual de serviço.

  1. Check out these smart specs! Smart Connector for power and data connection 64 Key, QWERTY keyboard
    • Check out these smart specs!

    • Smart Connector for power and data connection

    • 64 Key, QWERTY keyboard

    • Water and stain-resistant

  2. The bottom flap is home to all the regular suspects—regulatory markings, country of origin, and a new model number: A1636. Hamburger? Hot Dog? With all these folds, the Smart Keyboard definitely breaks the record for the most confusing combination keyboard/case  ever. Seriously, this thing has so many sections, Apple even included a handy "guide" on how to fold it correctly.
    • The bottom flap is home to all the regular suspects—regulatory markings, country of origin, and a new model number: A1636.

    • Hamburger? Hot Dog? With all these folds, the Smart Keyboard definitely breaks the record for the most confusing combination keyboard/case ever.

    • Seriously, this thing has so many sections, Apple even included a handy "guide" on how to fold it correctly.

    • We finally get the Smart Keyboard to bend to our will and lay mostly flat (not taking into account the 4 mm depth of each individual key). It looks like the perfect symmetry we found in the iPad Pro doesn't carry over to its accessories.

  3. On the left, an iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard. On the right, a Surface Pro 4. We're pretty sure anyway, the differences are pretty slight at first glance. The most marked difference between the key layouts is of course the Surface's trackpad. iPads just want to watch the world burn... We know, iOS doesn't support any mouse-type input, so a trackpad here wouldn't really work. Still, with the rapidly growing number of iPad applications, we are hopeful...
    • On the left, an iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard. On the right, a Surface Pro 4. We're pretty sure anyway, the differences are pretty slight at first glance.

    • The most marked difference between the key layouts is of course the Surface's trackpad. iPads just want to watch the world burn...

    • We know, iOS doesn't support any mouse-type input, so a trackpad here wouldn't really work. Still, with the rapidly growing number of iPad applications, we are hopeful...

    • The Smart Keyboard features some iOS hallmarks, like the keyboard swapping globe button, and rounder key edges.

    • However the iPad Pro also seems to be taking some notes from its notebook cousins, the Smart Keyboard has control, option, and command keys.

    • In order to make the Smart Keyboard water and stain-resistant, Apple encapsulated the entire accessory inside some high tech fabric.

    • Finding no viable entry points, we turn to our Tech Knife for sage wisdom.

    • We slice and dice the microfiber lining of the keyboard as we burrow our way towards victory.

    • At this point, it's readily apparent that this teardown is an irreversible process.

  4. Kits para o Nintendo Switch

    Um reparo rápido para reiniciar o jogo

    Confira kits para o Nintendo Switch

    Kits para o Nintendo Switch

    Um reparo rápido para reiniciar o jogo

    Confira kits para o Nintendo Switch
  5. We peel up the top layer of mysterious fabric (we think it's nylon—our teardown engineer notes that it feels like a windbreaker) to find blank keys. Perhaps Jony Ive was worried about your keyboard getting get too cold? Moving past the fabric, we begin prying out the individual keys and get our first glance at the dome switches underneath.
    • We peel up the top layer of mysterious fabric (we think it's nylon—our teardown engineer notes that it feels like a windbreaker) to find blank keys.

    • Perhaps Jony Ive was worried about your keyboard getting get too cold?

    • Moving past the fabric, we begin prying out the individual keys and get our first glance at the dome switches underneath.

    • As Apple stated during their keynote, these switches are the same as those found in the 2015 Retina MacBook.

    • One design choice we like is the placement of a stiffening weight in the spacebar.

    • The addition of this bar means the spacebar key can register a push no matter where you tap on it. No wobbly spacebar woes here.

    • We call upon our iOpener to heat the microfiber lining, allowing us to delve further into the multiple layers of the Smart Keyboard cover panel.

    • We're starting to feel like archeologists, digging through the ages...

    • Underneath the soft display cover we find... nothing really.

    • Time for a brief message from our sponsors: We're excited to announce that we've just released a completely redesigned Pro Tech Toolkit, complete with all of the tools you need, and none that you don't.

    • With this tough plastic layer blocking further keyboard inroads, we're going to need one of those tools...

  6. Like a plastic opening pick. We crack open the clam and the pearls keycaps come cascading out. We now have the pleasure of viewing the entire underlying circuit board, replete with 64 dome switches.
    • Like a plastic opening pick.

    • We crack open the clam and the pearls keycaps come cascading out.

    • We now have the pleasure of viewing the entire underlying circuit board, replete with 64 dome switches.

    • But not much else, no LEDs, or batteries or fancy fans needed here!

  7. Another one bites the dust. We pull the keycap frame away for a closer look. There are some interesting intestinal squiggles in this plastic frame, what's up with that?
    • Another one bites the dust. We pull the keycap frame away for a closer look.

    • There are some interesting intestinal squiggles in this plastic frame, what's up with that?

    • Closer inspection shows these channels lead to tiny vents at the top of the keyboard.

    • We assume this keeps the Smart Keyboard from becoming a pressurized balloon every time a key is depressed.

    • Let's hope these holes don't let water in...

    If you have soaked it in water, is it repariable?

    Norman Armour - Responder

  8. Time to peel up yet another layer! In fact, it's that tough plastic backing we encountered earlier. It's aggressively glued, so we aggressively, well, ripped in in half... Finally, the true keyboard is revealed—a plane of switches and chips! The brains of the operation is Apple's latest go-to microcontroller for peripheral input devices:
    • Time to peel up yet another layer! In fact, it's that tough plastic backing we encountered earlier. It's aggressively glued, so we aggressively, well, ripped in in half...

    • Finally, the true keyboard is revealed—a plane of switches and chips!

    • The brains of the operation is Apple's latest go-to microcontroller for peripheral input devices:

    • ST Microelectronics STM32F103VB 72 MHz 32-bit RISC ARM Cortex-M3

  9. Peeling up the last of the Smart Keyboard's pelt reveals three interesting fabric strips. Turns out, these are made of Apple's mysterious "conductive fabric." These connect the keyboard to the Smart Connector and allow for a "two‑way flow of power and data."
    • Peeling up the last of the Smart Keyboard's pelt reveals three interesting fabric strips.

    • Turns out, these are made of Apple's mysterious "conductive fabric." These connect the keyboard to the Smart Connector and allow for a "two‑way flow of power and data."

    • We're excited about this design feature, as these fabric strips should be more durable and fail-resistant than wires or traditional flex cables.

    • Apple even states "unlike traditional wires, the conductive fabric can withstand a lifetime of folding." Sweet!

    FAIL. The conductive fabric is THE Achilles heel of the keyboard. Doomed to fail… so horrible that a 3 year replacement program for SOME models of the Smart Keyboard had to be introduced by Apple.

    I’m on my third keyboard for this failure mode in less than 2 years. “Lifetime” my a**.

    Ryder Spearmann - Responder

    It surely isn’t lifetime unless you consider yourself a “working bee”. The fabric does not last longer than few thousand folds IMHO… I have so far replaced two keyboards and now given up as it’s just too expensive a keyboard. Love it being thin, usable but at $169.00 it’s simply does not have the life of a horse.

    mona.sveet - Responder

    My fantastic fabric failed too - but Apple would not replace, because a tiny piece of the side seam had come undone. Like not replacing a screen because there is a scratch on the battery cover. Smart Keyboard has probably taken two years off my life.

    Batmandela - Responder

    I just got mine replaced after 2 years. Everyday use at work between OneNote with and without Smart Keyboard. After 1 month I noticed that the conductive fabric shape appears through the visible pelts. Like it was when my first one started to fail. Let’s hope to use that 3 years replacement program ‘cause I’ll surely need it…

    Benoît Wérion - Responder

  10. The Apple Smart Keyboard repairability 0 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair): While durable, the keyboard is impossible to open without damaging, meaning no internal components can be replaced without destroying the device.
    • The Apple Smart Keyboard repairability 0 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair):

    • While durable, the keyboard is impossible to open without damaging, meaning no internal components can be replaced without destroying the device.

    Any chance on knowing which part of the fabric connects with which pin? My Smart Keyboard is acting up, I’m planing to probe three wire into the frantic and redirect them directly to the connecting pin, so that i can salvage the basic function of the keyboard.

    Fisher - Responder

Dante Mazzanti

Membro desde: 13/07/2015

34.138 Reputação

26 Guias de autoria

Another disposable product from Apple, if it ever goes wrong, that is =)

I am not surpised

Marhowl - Responder

I'm not either. I think that's going to be the norm (if not already) as devices become smaller and more complex. Not only from just Apple. I think the need to repair rather than replace will get less and less. I think this is a good thing, but it means scores like 'reparability' when reviewing or tearing down will continue to mean less and less to consumers over time. For myself, I already think it's a pretty glorified/meaningless statistic when reviewing a product I'm going to buy. As long as it's quality, and/or the manufacturer has a good warranty program, it's much more convenient for me to go that route. I can't remember the last time I needed to fix or pay to get fixed one of my electronic devices who isn't the manufacturer.

Nick - Responder

well, at some point of time maybe even you will grow up, take responsibility and try not to waste our beautiful planet with one-time, throw-away products..

Guido Boehm -

i suppose most products of companies have a limited warranty of, let's say, 2-3 years maximum.

what happens if after the warranty ends and the keyboard fails to work?

since you can't repair it your self, you can only use it as a placemat for your dinner.

alexios -

Guido, there's this thing called recycling, perhaps you've heard of it?

rpe33 -

I guess it would be acceptable if it was the only one around but the limited orientation and instability mean there will be far better options. I'm sure the Clamcase will blow it out of the water. http://clamcase.com/?gclid=CjwKEAiAstCyB...

hamesken - Responder

you guys forgot something, it's just a keyboard, i know it's a bit special but just a keyboard

have you ever had to repair a keyboard? i mean a casual one, not your special custom cherry mx one, the one for an accountant or receptionist?

Dezso Fater - Responder

"it's just a keyboard"

yeah, a $170 one...

no way -

I've never had to worry about tearing a hole in the fabric wrapped around my keyboard, no.

Steve -

Have you ever seriously tried to repair a keyboard? Other than minor repairs, like replacing a key cap or hinges? The things are irreparable except mechanical keyboards with independent switches, and often expensive on a laptop.. There's not much to fix if anything goes wrong anyway.

Desktop keyboards are usually also irreparable, especially the typical desktop keyboard (where repairing damage to the contacts/membrane is uneconomical, and replacement parts are usually difficult to come across). On the other hand, a new membrane keyboard is $20.

Elizabeth Myers - Responder

And this one shown here $170

Kalvinjj -

This is a really good tear down of the product. After reading it, was inquisitive to know, how do they connect the keyboard part to the rest of the fabric/fold part. Feel, there has to be some mechanism to connect the two, like a hinge or something.

Raghu Ram - Responder

In Step 3, I don't get your remark, "iPads just want to watch the world burn..." A bit unprofessional and unnecessary don't you think?....and weird. Then you say you're hopeful for a trackpad in the future. Why? It's not a question of new apps. No app will ever need a trackpad because...well, because iOS and touch screens don't require them.

johnleestjohn - Responder

Lol… „It will never require…” We all know that Ipad is “touch only” device and it had been said during all these years that it doesn’t need: keyboard, pencil, mouse and proper file manager … However in 2020… things have changed.

dobromir.dombek -

I am curious about the signaling. Is the typing info transmitted wirelessly or using some of the three pins?

Li Jin - Responder

Would love to also see a teardown of the microsoft surface keyboards!

Nigel Geh - Responder

Cam you replace the torn fabric?

JD Casantusan - Responder

I’m curious to know what’s the battery consumption of the Smart Keyboard when plugged on the iPad Pro and set up in writing mode. Can you investigate this? Thank you!

Claudio Voltattorni - Responder

There are a lot of reviews on the Smart Keyboard complaining that the device stops being recognised, typically after a year of use, it seems plausible that the conductive fabric is at fault, not quite as immune to folding as originally suggested. I’ve seen one YouTube video repair to the conductive cloth, is it worth revisiting and adding an iFixit repai guide? Antybody else out there upset by Apples refusal to admit this “design fault”. And willing to give it a go? Any hints on removing the micro-fiber cover so that it’s reusable (heat pads maybe). Best conductive replacement?

Eoin - Responder

I know this is an old post, but I just now have started having issues with my keyboard. I’ve taken my multimeter to it, confirming that the 3 pins have a good connection down the conductive fabric (therefore no problems at folds), but the iPad can’t seem to recognize that the keyboard is attached. Did you guys ever find out where/if there are magnetic switches on the keyboard to recognize when it is in the proper position? I assume it would be in or near the trough above the number keys. Thanks for all the work you guys do! I was one of those kids who’d rather take their toys apart than play with them.

Frigostad - Responder

Two of my Smart Keyboard have same issues that iPad no longer recognizes them. One is on a 12” and the other one is with 10” iPad Pro; hence, it not a problem with iPad. I am curious if there is any fix for that problem.

chi_h_chen -

I realize I’m probably posting this way too late for my post to be of any help for you but, just in case someone else finds this info useful: yes, there is a sensor that detects when the tablet is actually snapped magnetically in the “typing” position. It’s not enough for the keyboard to just be mated to the iPad via the magnetic “spine” with pogo pins. It’s probably to prevent registering of spurious keypresses when the iPad is in transport but happens to get unlocked.

Zbigniew Trzepizur -

Hi,,

I would like to put a physical lock on my Ipad Pro. To do this, I need to stick a small iron plate at the back of my Ipad. If I do that, I cannot anymore use the smart keyboard folio because the iron plate is a little bit to thick. In order to resolve this issue, I would like to make a hole in the cover part in order to put the iron plate at this location. Do you know if it may damaged my smart keyboard folio to do that ? Is there is a recommended location to do the Hole in the folio cover

Here is an exemple of the plate I want to stuck at the back of my Ipad.

Thank you for your help

Renaud Besnard - Responder

You missed an important part, the 3 pin system that connects directly to the ipad. What is inside this bar that holds the ipad ?

Abdelrhman Fathi - Responder

Least satisfactory Apple product I have purchased. Stopped working after a year. So I just used it as an expensive smart case. Then find out about the defect replacement program. Sent it to Apple and was told they wouldn’t fix it because the seam had started coming apart on the bottom left part of the corner next to the keyboard.

I have ironed the the case a few times and it made the keyboard work perfectly. For about five minutes.

And then I have to put up with endless annoying, screen-hogging “USB Accessory Unrecognised” errors - sometimes up to twenty of them. All requiring to be clicked.

If anyone can find a fix for this, I’d be grateful.

Batmandela - Responder

One thing that seems to fail on these keyboards is the magnet that tell the iPad the keyboard is being used in keyboard mode. You will find this is a common problem. If we knew WHERE this mysterious magnet was on the keyboard we could then attempt to magnetize it again using a strong magnet. Do you have any ideas where this particular magnet might be located? Alternatively, given you guys have torn these down do you have any different view of how the iPad knows that the keyboard is now being used in keyboard mode (so iOS should stop showing the soft keyboard)?

Rod Hall - Responder

I bought my ipad pro and the smart keyboard in December 2016. It behaved well until this past week when it started to act funky.

The high tech fabric and the rubber of the top of the keyboard are both separating and peeling back from joint where they meet. I’ve thought about taping the edges in place with perhaps a thin slice of Duck tape.

Is this separation and peeling affecting the keyboard function causing it to act funky? Will taping help? Of course, I have nothing to lose if it is dying. But, still. Nobody else sells keyboards for $150 and expect them to last only 3 years.

Shannon Norton Richards - Responder

I’ve opened my Smart Keyboard (12.9”) recently for a mod I’ve been planning and I can confirm that there is a magnetic sensor in the “spine” right above the first key on the left.

You can find the right spot by traveling a small neodymium magnet through the grove of the spine until the onscreen keyboard disappears and the Smart Keyboard starts to work.

hope that helps somebody.

by the way, I’m trying to include a trackpad below the keyboard, and if I can, make its connection with the same fabric on the keyboard. Probably just the + and ground one.

I’ll probably will need to extend the 2 data wires from the usb of the trackpad through the entire cover until some spot were I can put a lightning to usb board.

Time will tell,… ;P

Miguel Angelo - Responder

I just fixed my non working Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro 10.5. Made a video to help others here https://youtu.be/buNYHzMZJdk

jon - Responder

Hello, I notice parts of the fabric edge of my keyboard starting to peel open. Any suggestion of the suitable glue? Thank you.

fdsimon - Responder

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