On the Size of the Speaker Cavities in the iPad Pro

From iFixit’s iPad Pro teardown:

It appears that the Pro’s self-balancing, four-speaker audio comes at the cost of battery capacity. Based on our measurements, the speaker enclosures occupy about half as much space as the battery.

That’s space that could have potentially been used for an extra 50% battery capacity. We’re sure Apple was very careful setting the balance between battery capacity, weight, and sound quality.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, writing about iFixit’s teardown for ZDNet, takes this as the central theme of his article (headline: “iPad Pro: 4-Speaker System Takes Up a Huge Amount of Potential Battery Space”):

According to a teardown carried out by repair specialists at iFixit, the speaker enclosures take up about half as much space as the battery does. And the battery in the iPad isn’t small either, featuring a power capacity of 38.8Wh, which is 40 percent bigger than the one found inside the iPad Air 2, and a shade bigger than the 38.2Wh unit Microsoft uses in the Surface Pro 4.

But the speaker units — which consist of the speakers themselves and the volume chambers — take up about half the space that the batteries do. In other words, if Apple had put small speakers into the iPad Pro, it could have made the battery almost 50 percent bigger.

Kingsley-Hughes wasn’t alone. That was the main thrust of MacRumors’s and Macworld’s write-ups, too. I don’t get it. The iPad Pro gets excellent battery life. I could see making an argument about the relative merits of audio quality and battery life on a battery-constrained device like the iPhone 6S. And iFixit themselves wrote, “We’re sure Apple was very careful setting the balance between battery capacity, weight, and sound quality.”

This suggestion makes no sense. A heavier iPad Pro with worse sound quality from its speakers would be a worse device, no matter how much longer the battery would last. Lots of the trade-offs are very tricky — like how thick to make the overall device. This one was not a tricky trade-off.

Update: A few readers are complaining that I’m being too kind to these dopes. They’re right. Maybe I’m losing my edge. Here’s how stupid the idea is. If the iPad Pro had smaller speaker cavities and a larger battery, it would be an improvement in one way:

  • Longer battery life.

It would be objectively worse in these ways:

  • Weight.
  • Time to completely charge the battery.
  • Audio quality.

And people are already — reasonably — criticizing the iPad Pro for how heavy it is and how long it takes to fully charge. A bigger battery would make two of its weaknesses even worse, all in the name of further improving battery life, an aspect of the iPad Pro that no one is complaining about.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015