IFixit gets iPhone 4 prior to release, publishes ‘teardown’


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IFixit, the San Luis Obispo outfit known for prying open and analyzing high-profile gadgets the day they hit stores, has bested its usual schedule. The electronic parts reseller acquired an iPhone 4 on Tuesday night, two days before its planned launch, and began posting a teardown, as they call the gadget examinations.

We published a profile of IFixit in Wednesday’s Times, detailing the company’s last noteworthy teardown, the iPad 3G, compatible with AT&T’s wireless network. IFixit rips open most Apple products, and we noted that the operation’s iPhone 4 teardown was expected on the Thursday launch, a conservative estimate.


Perhaps not surprisingly for the tenacious bunch, the workers managed to track down someone with the new phone in Mountain View, Calif., after fishing for leads in the Twitter ecosystem.

An engineer at a Silicon Valley start-up, who asked not to be identified (‘No, it’s not stolen,’ noted IFixit co-founder Luke Soules), volunteered his shiny, new iPhone that FedEx happened to deliver early to the mad gadget scientists.

The findings? IFixit confirmed rumors that the iPhone 4 contains double the random-access memory of the iPad, meaning those 512 megabytes facilitate more applications for quick-switch multitasking.

Like IFixit’s teardown of the original iPad in April, the company ordered several iPhone 4 units. The first arrived Wednesday, the morning after the workers began ripping apart and poking around in the engineer’s phone.

When IFixit connected with the lucky engineer, co-founder Kyle Wiens was on a plane to Japan. Plan B, if delivery trucks hadn’t let a few slip early, was for Wiens to wait in line at a store in Japan. The product comes out on the same day but, due to time zone differences, open earlier than U.S. shops. He planned to report his findings from the Far East.

While the company found luck in California, Soules said his business partner ‘and his wife are going to end up the winners on this.’ No need to camp out in front of an electronics store for the iPhone and a free trip to boot. ‘It’ll be a nice vacation for them,’ Soules joked, with maybe a tinge of envy, in an e-mail.


— Mark Milian

Photo: iPhone 4 teardown. Credit: IFixit