Inside the iPhone 5s: Teardown from iFixit identifies image sensor supplier, assesses repairability


posted Friday, September 20, 2013 at 6:45 PM EDT

Just picked up the brand-new Apple iPhone 5s (or waiting in queue to do so), and eager to know what's inside? Stop! We know you've got the whole weekend ahead of you to figure out how to get it apart and put it back together again, but the folks at iFixit have already blazed the trail for you.

They've just published their iPhone 5s teardown, and simultaneously, their iPhone 5c teardown. (We're not quite sure how they managed the latter, as the iPhone 5c is currently only available for preorder. Perhaps we'll soon see a followup time-travel device teardown?) 

Obviously, we're most interested in the iPhones' imaging capabilities, so we skipped ahead to read the answer to the big question: Who got the design win for the iPhone 5s' new camera, which features a slightly larger sensor (and accordingly, larger pixels.) Although the question doesn't yet seem to have been definitively put to bed, iFixit's findings (coupled with industry scuttlebutt from the teardown experts at Chipworks) suggests that Sony has once again supplied the sensor in the latest iPhone flagship.

Inside the Apple iPhone 5s. Image courtesy of

Be that as it may, though, the two iPhone teardowns offer a great look at all the tech Apple crammed inside both the latest flagship, and its colorful, plastic-bodied sibling. And as usual, the iFixit folks also offer a repairability rating for both phones, assessing just how hard it is to get them apart and back together again.

The Apple iPhone 5s' camera module, visible at top right. Image courtesy of

Courtesy of a side-by-side comparison in the iPhone 5c teardown, it's also pretty clear that while there's an increase in size for the iPhone 5s sensor, it isn't a radical difference. Of course, we already knew that -- the increase in imaging area is around 15% -- but we're visual types, and so we appreciate seeing the point made visually. The overall module size is very similar, and the most noticeable variation between the two rear-facing cameras is that the iPhone 5s' lens sports a larger aperture than that of the iPhone 5c.

Side-by-side comparison of camera modules from Apple's iPhone 5c (left) and iPhone 5s (right). The iPhone 5s uses a larger image sensor and brighter lens. Image courtesy of

And what of the repairability rating? Well, we won't spoil the numbers here -- it's worth hopping on over to iFixit and seeing all the pictures, after all. Suffice to say that neither new iPhone model is going to be as easy to repair as was the iPhone 5. But if the queues to pick up the new models are anything to go by, that's not going to dissuade anybody from stepping up to Apple's latest and greatest!

More details on the iFixit website.