UPDATE 2-First iPad mini teardown reveals Samsung display

Thu Nov 1, 2012 12:57pm EDT

* IPad mini hits store shelves in 34 countries Friday
    * First dismantling shows Samsung display -iFixit


    By Noel Randewich
    SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Apple Inc's iPad
mini uses a display from South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co
Ltd, one of Apple's major suppliers and also its
fiercest rival in the global mobile-device market that the two
companies dominate.    
    Analysts say the Silicon Valley-based iPhone maker is trying
to wean itself off its reliance on Samsung, as both giants are
embroiled in a bitter international legal battle over mobile
patents, for everything from microchips to displays.
    In the first dismantling of the iPad mini, which will be
sold in 34 countries beginning Friday, teardown and
gadget-repair specialist company, iFixit, discovered a Samsung
display driver chip, which indicated that Apple had picked the
Korean firm's screen technology.
    Like most producers of mobile hardware, the U.S. company
typically employs several suppliers for the same components in
its gadgets. Apple has been known to use screens made by LG
Display, for instance.
    "Though the markings on the back of the LCD (display) don't
turn up much information, the Samsung display driver IC (chip)
reveals that Apple, once again, went with Samsung in its display
manufacturing," iFixit said, detailing the teardown on its
website.
    Supplying parts for Apple's iPhones and iPads - some of the
industry's most popular and advanced gadgets - is considered a
coup for chipmakers and other manufacturers.
    The iPad mini also employs SK Hynix Inc flash
memory, a Broadcom touch controller, and a number of
microchips from Fairchild Semiconductor International Inc
, according to iFixit, which acquired one early.
    The 7.9-inch iPad mini marks the Apple's first foray into
the smaller-tablet segment. The company hopes to beat back
incursions into its home territory - carved out with the
original iPad's launch in 2010 - with 7-inch slates that are
popular with consumers, even as it safeguards its lead in a
larger tablet space that even deep-pocketed rivals like Samsung
have found tough to penetrate. 
    It has won mostly positive reviews focused on its ability to
wrap most of the functions of its full-sized iPad sibling into a
smaller package, but critics pointed out the higher price tag of
the iPad mini and an inferior display relative to those of rival
products like Amazon's Kindle Fire HD and Google's Nexus 7.
    
  
    START YOUR ENGINES
    A smaller tablet is the first device to be added to Apple's
compact portfolio under CEO Tim Cook, who took over from
predecessor Steve Jobs just before his death a year ago.
Analysts said it may have been Google and Amazon that helped
influence the decision.
    Online sales have run for a week, but Apple has not
disclosed sales numbers so far. Friday's global sales rollout
may offer a hint of demand for the gadget, which analysts expect
to be strong.
    Still, it will be playing catch up. Priced at $329 for a
Wi-Fi only model, the iPad mini is more expensive than many
analysts had expected. Amazon's Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus
7, both released at $199, have grabbed a chunk of the lower end
of the tablet market.
    Meanwhile, it is battling Samsung in the smartphone arena,
which still yields the majority of Apple's revenue and profit.
The Korean giant last year became the world's largest maker of
smartphones as other rivals lost steam.
    Apple and Samsung are engaged in patent disputes across
several countries, and Apple is believed to be seeking ways to
rely less on Samsung. But the Asian tech powerhouse remains a
key supplier for Apple, manufacturing its application processors
and providing other components.
    Samsung has stopped supplying displays for Apple's iPhone,
and plays a reduced role in the full-sized iPad, according to
DisplaySearch. Apple is also buying fewer memory chips from
Samsung for the iPhone 5, relying more on Hynix and Elpida
Memory.
    Many analysts believe Apple will also gradually phase out
Samsung as the main producer of the mobile micro-processor and
shift business to rival supplier TSMC.