iPhone 11 Pro teardown reveals smaller logic board, larger battery

iFixit has disassembled Apple’s new iPhone models, which tells us more about the differences with last year’s phones. iFixit shot a live-stream video of the iPhone 11 Pro teardown and wrote a guide for the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

The first major difference is that the batteries in the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are much larger than the batteries in the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.

On the iPhone 11 Pro Max, the device is .4 mm thicker and the screen is .25 mm thinner. As John Gruber expected, dropping 3D Touch from the iPhone lineup makes the screen slightly slimmer. 3D Touch required an additional layer under the display to register pressure on the screen.

That might feel like a tiny difference, but it frees up some space for the battery. The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone XS have the same single-cell L-shaped design. But the Max version has been updated to use the came single-cell design instead of two cells.

The result is that the iPhone 11 Pro Max now has a 3,969 mAh battery compared to a 3,179 mAh battery in the iPhone XS Max. It represents a nearly 25% year-over-year improvement for the Max battery.

Those hardware refinements combined with a more efficient A13 system-on-a-chip create some significant battery life improvements for the user. Apple claims that the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max last up to 4 hours and 5 hours longer respectively compared to the previous generation.

iphone 11 livestream featured 1350x900

(Photo credit: iFixit)

In other news, the camera module is much bigger in this year’s new device (as expected). Apple managed to put a third camera by reducing the size of the logic board.

The logic board has the same dual-layer design that was first introduced with the iPhone X. It’s like a club sandwich of chips. Even though Apple and Qualcomm has settled its multi-billion-dollar lawsuits, the modem in the iPhones 11 Pro is still manufactured by Intel.

When it comes to things that we don’t know yet, iFixit couldn’t figure out how much RAM there is — Steve Troughton-Smith believes there might be 2GB of RAM dedicated to the camera that you wouldn’t notice on benchmarks.

Similarly, there are now two battery connectors instead of one. It’s hard to say for sure that the second connector has been added for bilateral wireless charging — it could be there for many different reasons. Rumor has it that Apple wanted to add reverse wireless charging but canned the feature at the last minute.

Overall, iFixit gives a repairability score of 6 out 10. The iPhone XS models also got a 6 out of 10 rating.

Gadgets – TechCrunch

SpaceX reveals more Starlink info after launch of first 60 satellites

Last night’s successful Starlink launch was a big one for SpaceX — its heaviest payload ever, weighed down by 60 communications satellites that will eventually be part of a single constellation providing internet to the globe. That’s the plan, anyway — and the company pulled the curtain back a bit more after launch, revealing a few more details about the birds it just put in the air.

SpaceX and CEO Elon Musk have been extremely tight-lipped about the Starlink satellites, only dropping a few hints here and there before the launch. We know, for instance, that each satellite weighs about 500 pounds, and are a flat-panel design that maximized the amount that can fit in each payload. The launch media kit also described a “Startracker” navigation system that would allow the satellites to locate themselves and orbital debris with precision.

At the fresh new Starlink website, however, a few new details have appeared, alongside some images that provide the clearest look yet (renders, not photographs, but still) of the satellites that will soon number thousands in our skies.

In the CG representation of how the satellites will work, you get a general sense of it:

Thousands of satellites will move along their orbits simultaneously, each beaming internet to and from the surface in a given area. It’s still not clear exactly how big an area each satellite will cover, or how much redundancy will be required. But the image gives you the general idea.

The signal comes from and goes to a set of four “phased array” radio antennas. This compact, flat type of antenna can transmit in multiple directions and frequencies without moving like you see big radar dishes do. There are costs as well, but it’s a no-brainer for satellites that need to be small and only need to transmit in one general direction — down.

There’s only a single solar array, which unfolds upwards like a map (and looks pretty much like you’d expect — hence no image here). The merits of having only one are mainly related to simplicity and cost — having two gives you more power and redundancy if one fails. But if you’re going to make a few thousand of these things and replace them every couple years, it probably doesn’t matter too much. Solar arrays are reliable standard parts now.

The krypton-powered ion thruster sounds like science fiction, but ion thrusters have actually been around for decades. They use a charge difference to shoot ions — charged molecules — out in a specific direction, imparting force in the opposite direction. Kind of like a tiny electric pea shooter that, in microgravity, pushes the person back with the momentum of the pea.

To do this it needs propellant — usually xenon, which has several (rather difficult to explain) properties that make it useful for these purposes. Krypton is the next Noble gas up the list in the table, and is similar in some ways but easier to get. Again, if you’re deploying thousands of ion engines — so far only a handful have actually flown — you want to minimize costs and exotic materials.

Lastly there is the Star Tracker and collision avoidance system. This isn’t very well explained by SpaceX, so we can only surmise based on what we see. The star tracker tells each satellite its attitude, or orientation in space — presumably by looking at the stars and comparing that with known variables like time of day on Earth and so on. This ties in with collision avoidance, which uses the government’s database of known space debris and can adjust course to avoid it.

How? The image on the Starlink site shows four discs at perpendicular orientations. This suggests they’re reaction wheels, which store kinetic energy and can be spun up or slowed down to impart that force on the craft, turning it as desired. Very clever little devices actually and quite common in satellites. These would control the attitude and the thruster would give a little impulse, and the debris is avoided. The satellite can return to normal orbit shortly thereafter.

We still don’t know a lot about the Starlink system. For instance, what do its ground stations look like? Unlike Ubiquitilink, you can’t receive a Starlink signal directly on your phone. So you’ll need a receiver, which Musk has said in the past is about the size of a pizza box. But small, large, or extra large? Where can it be mounted, and how much does it cost?

The questions of interconnection are also a mystery. Say a Starlink user wants to visit a website hosted in Croatia. Does the signal go up to Starlink, between satellites, and down to the nearest base station? Does it go down at a big interconnect point on the backbone serving that region? Does it go up and then come down 20 few miles from your house at the place where fiber connects to the local backbone? It may not matter much to ordinary users, but for big services — think Netflix — it could be very important.

And lastly, how much does it cost? SpaceX wants to make this competitive with terrestrial broadband, which is a little hard to believe considering the growth of fiber, but also not that hard to believe because of telecoms dragging their heels getting to rural areas still using DSL. Out there, Starlink might be a godsend, while in big cities it might be superfluous.

Chances are won’t know for a long time. The 60 satellites up there right now are only the very first wave, and don’t comprise anything more than a test bed for future services. Starlink will have to prove these things work as planned, and then send up several hundred more before it can offer even the most rudimentary service. Of course, that is the plan, and might even be accomplished by the end of the year. In the meantime I’ve asked SpaceX for more details and will update this post if I hear back.

Gadgets – TechCrunch

Leak reveals a new Apple Watch Series 4 with an edge-to-edge display

In addition to a leak showing off photos of the new iPhone XS models, 9to5Mac also got a hold of a photo of the upcoming Apple Watch Series 4. The new Watch, which now sports an edge-to-edge display, is expected to be revealed on September 12, at the just-announced Apple press conference, along with the iPhone XS.

The photos of the forthcoming Apple Watch (which 9to5Mac notes are “not a render”) show off a watch that’s clearly different from the existing editions. The display now stretches to the edge of the watch face, confirming earlier rumors that said Apple was planning to give the Apple Watch its first big redesign since its launch in 2015.

Analysts have been predicting the new watch would sport a 15% larger display, offer extended battery life, and include upgraded health monitoring features.

Image credit: 9to5Mac

Apple is apparently taking advantage of the bigger screen area with a new watch face that packs in a lot more complications.

In the image 9to5Mac published (see above), there’s an analog face that’s practically cluttered with extra complications, including the temperature, stopwatch, weather, activity rings, date, music, calendar updates, and even a UVI index. These are both spread around the outside of the clock itself, and inside the clock, underneath the hands.

Arguably, it’s a bit much. But the image is likely showing off all the possible complications that could be added to a customizable face at the user’s discretion, rather than a suggestion that one should – well – add them all at once.

Of course, we’ve already begun debating the look, with some more enthusiastically in favor of the new face and all its accompanying accoutrement, and others – let’s say, more cautiously optimistic.

The photo also shows a new hole underneath the Digital Crown, which seems like an extra mic, the report notes.

Other changes, including whatever hardware upgrades and watchOS software features may arrive, aren’t yet known.

Gadgets – TechCrunch