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Calorie-counting works

Marc LaFountain on the iPad’s weight:

[…] But, if I could get an iPad with a seven- or eight-hour battery instead of a ten-hour battery that was a few ounces lighter, I’d make that trade in a heartbeat. I’d rather have less operating time on a device I enjoy more than more operating time on a device I enjoy less.

I agree that I’d love for the iPad to be a bit lighter. But iFixit’s teardown doesn’t provide much hope:

Here’s the weight breakdown: Aluminum back: 138 grams, Battery: 148 grams, LCD: 153 grams, Glass (and frame): 193 grams, Speaker: 17 grams, Main board: 21 grams, Everything else: 27 grams

Total: 697 grams

In other words, in descending weight order, approximately:

So where can weight be meaningfully saved? It’s probably safe to assume that the 9% components are stuck at about that amount, as is the 22% LCD screen. That leaves these to play with:

If Apple reduced the battery’s mass (and, presumably, capacity) by 20%, that only reduces the iPad’s total weight by 4% — probably not enough to be worth the capacity reduction. Even cutting the battery capacity and weight in half, which would cause negative reviews and reduce its usefulness significantly, would only save 11% of the overall weight. That 11% would help, but it’s definitely not worth the capacity loss.

So the battery should probably stay the same. That leaves:

As much as I hate glass displays, I have to admit that a matte-finish LCD is a terrible idea for a touch screen, especially at this size. Rigid glass is needed for strength, scratch resistance, and easy cleaning. It’s going to be pretty difficult to save any weight from the glass without compromising the iPad’s durability and practicality.

That leaves us the aluminum back panel. A plastic panel of the same size would probably be lighter, but by how much? Half? That’s still only a 10% overall weight reduction, and it would likely make the iPad feel cheap and flimsy.

I’m sure Apple’s industrial design staff battled with these issues for a long time before deciding on the iPad’s form factor, and they probably came to the same conclusions: while this is heavier than the ideal weight, there’s very little that can realistically be removed without fatal compromises.