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iFixit Apple Pencil teardown reveals twin emitters to measure angle & orientation, logic board folded in half


No new Apple tech survives long without being taken apart by iFixit, and the Apple Pencil is no exception. Apple didn’t make it easy, however, with iFixit having to resort to a small circular saw to open up the device and needing to break a flex cable along the way.

Inside, it found that the plastic outer casing reveals a metal inner one. The tip contains two separate emitters, used to determine both the angle and orientation of the Pencil in order to adjust the width of the pen stroke. With such little space to play with, Apple had to get creative with the logic board … 

iFixit reports that the logic board is the smallest one it’s ever seen, and weighs just 1g. Even so, Apple still struggled to fit it into the casing so they folded it in half.


There’s an even tinier sensor board inside the nib, with movement between two parts acting as an apparent pressure sensor.

Unsurprisingly, iFixit gives it 1 out of 10 for repairability, which really ought to be a zero as “you can’t get inside without destroying the device.” Fortunately, it appears you’re unlikely to damage it in normal use.

Both Tim Cook and Jony Ive have been talking up the capabilities of the Pencil, even if it is taking a while to get them into customers’ hands.

Head on over to iFixit to see the full teardown photos and details, and our own less destructive look at the device.


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  1. Milorad Ivović - 7 years ago

    iFixit probably need to take a little break from their obsession with repairability for peripheral devices at this price level. I get that’s what they think they’re all about, but what they are really is a teardown site, since most of the components to repair a device like this aren’t actually available as spare parts in the first place, so your ability to disassemble it is rather meaningless.

    • Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 7 years ago

      You seem to both comprehend why iFixit exists, whilst simultaneously not understanding why it exists. They sell tools to repair things. The tear downs are partly just promotional.

      • Milorad Ivović - 7 years ago

        Yes, it’s a very complicated point with many simultaneous thoughts required. I’ll go through it slowly with you.
        Some devices are worth fixing. Other devices are not worth fixing. It’s possible to respect iFixit’s mission to fix devices worth fixing, while *simultaneously* thinking it’s ridiculous to discuss the repairability of devices which aren’t worth fixing…. or indeed, which CANNOT be fixed, due to lack of available spare parts.

        It’s not all or nothing. It’s not a light switch. Choices can be made, and the promotional teardowns don’t NEED to discuss repairability. They can be framed in the context of “Hey, you won’t be fixing this but we thought you’d like to see what’s inside” — there’s nothing wrong with that, and iFixit would explode if they exercised a little more flexibility.

        I don’t *want* a more fixable Apple Pencil peripheral device. I want one as light and durable as possible. There are more important things in peripheral devices than repairability.

    • Agree. There is no point to talk about repairability of a pencil, even a digital one. However don’t stop disassembling, its marvelous.

    • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

      I agree. This type of device is one of those throwaway items when the warranty is up you just throw it away and buy a new one, or if under warranty, Apple is just going to replace it.

  2. Robert - 7 years ago

    That is a cool piece of engineering!
    Who anticipated the metal case/shielding?

    Mine arrives some time today, but I won’t be dissecting it.

    • ag80911 - 7 years ago

      Now you see the delay in getting this out….some amazing work of engineering, nothing off the shelf.

      • Robert - 7 years ago

        I’m fascinated by the cap. It’s made up of at least 4 parts and 3 different materials. There’s a magnet inside that engages the very end of the Lightening connector. The cap is also vented to reduce the potential of being a choking hazard.

        There is also tiny text on both sides of the Lightening connector that gives the Model, Serial Number and some regulatory info.

        The center of gravity seems to be a few millimeters closer to the cap than the tip. I’m kind of disappointed than they didn’t get it dead center. To me it just feels a touch top heavy at first but I’m certain I’ll get used to it.

  3. Ah, iFixit. They really became the gold standard for manicured hands on tech blogs.

  4. Arnold Ziffel - 7 years ago

    What about the repairability of the subcomponents, e.g., logic board and various sensors? I mean, come on, iFixit, there are many of us who like to dig into everything.

    • Milorad Ivović - 7 years ago

      So you want to saw through the case and utterly destroy the pencil, so that you can repair the logic board and sensors? … will you then roll them up in some kind of oversized joint, so you can use them as a pencil again?

  5. Josh Lambert - 7 years ago

    but, does it bend?

  6. Jake Becker - 7 years ago

    But it’s so overpriced!!11111111 *rage*

  7. Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

    The one spec I see a lot of graphic artists interested in knowing is the number of levels of sensitivity. The top end Wacom pen has 2048 levels. I’m surprised Apple is keeping this spec quiet if they want to sell this Pencil against a high end Wacom. one would think they would make it compete on the level of sensitivity. Anyone know what the real spec is for that?

  8. Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

    I’m surprised that Apple didn’t have a magnetic charging feature. I mean it would make sense that you could just magnetically attach the the iPad Pro and it would charge. It’s technology that Apple has.

    • Milorad Ivović - 7 years ago

      Agree completely. Not only does Apple have it, but that’s how the smartcover keyboard gets power. The pencil should also have been able to attach to the same connector. I suspect more people will use a pencil, than will use that keyboard cover.

  9. Doug Bixler - 7 years ago

    So I just came back from trying out the new iPad Pro and Apple Pencil at our Apple Store and I have to say that I give the iPad Pro a 4 out of 5 stars and the Apple Pencil a 1 out of 5.

    The larger size did not feel big at all. It felt right. Felt like it should have been this size from the beginning. I really think the mini will go away now with the iPhone Plus taking that segment. The new keyboard case typed really nicely I thought as well.

    Now the Pencil… I would have given it a 4 out of 5, but when my 8 year old son tried it out on Adobe Sketch, he immediately tried to flip it over and erase with it. That was a HUGE moment right there. The fact that Apple in all of their infinite wisdom missed this point is huge. They always describe their products as being intuitive, yet they missed a simple feature that Wacom has had in their pens for DECADES. So now we will wait for Apple Pencil 2 which will hopefully be properly priced at $49 next time.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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