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Google Glass teardown with Star Simpson

"We destroyed Glass entirely, for you," says Star Simpson. Check out her Google Glass Teardown with Scott Torborg.

We eagerly brought Glass back to the lab to begin the dissection. Speculation reigned: what if the entire body of Glass is potted with epoxy requiring strong solvents to access? Which part is the battery in? How hackable is this thing? Where are the sensors? Any extra hardware features yet to be unlocked by future software updates? But first, where to even begin opening it? With no idea of what lay ahead, we started by removing the titanium frame from the pod that holds all the good stuff.

What's inside? “It's surprisingly simple,” she writes.

How is a $12 phone possible?


Bunnie Huang paid a visit to Shenzhen's Mingtong Digital Mall and found a $12 mobile phone, with Bluetooth, an MP3 player, an OLED display and quad-band GSM. For $12.

Bunnie's teardown shows a little bit about how this $12 piece of electronics can possibly be profitable, but far more tantalizing are his notes about Gongkai, "a network of ideas, spread peer-to-peer, with certain rules to enforce sharing and to prevent leeching." It's the Pearl River Delta's answer to the open source hardware movement, and Bunnie promises to write more about it soon.

How is this possible? I don’t have the answers, but it’s something I’m trying to learn. A teardown yields a few hints.

First, there are no screws. The whole case snaps together.

Also, there are (almost) no connectors on the inside. Everything from the display to the battery is soldered directly to the board; for shipping and storage, you get to flip a switch to hard-disconnect the battery. And, as best as I can tell, the battery also has no secondary protection circuit.

The Bluetooth antenna is nothing more than a small length of wire, seen on the lower left below.

Still, the phone features accoutrements such as a back-lit keypad and decorative lights around the edge.

The electronics consists of just two major ICs: the Mediatek MT6250DA, and a Vanchip VC5276. Of course, with price competition like this, Western firms are suing to protect ground: Vanchip is in a bit of a legal tussle with RF Micro, and Mediatek has also been subject to a few lawsuits of its own.

The MT6250 is rumored to sell in volume for under $2. I was able to anecdotally confirm the price by buying a couple of pieces on cut-tape from a retail broker for about $2.10 each. [No, I will not broker these chips or this phone for you...]

The $12 Gongkai Phone

Entire, working mobile phone with SIM free in this week's Entertainment Weekly

This week's issue of Entertainment Weekly sports a live-tweeting interactive video display. The folks from Mashable did a teardown to see how this was accomplished, and discovered that there is a complete (albeit without a case or keypad) Foxconn Android phone glued between the pages, along with a T-Mobile SIM. By poking around, they were even able to make phonecalls with it.

They didn't show what happened if you put the SIM in another phone, which would be a neat trick, and I also wondered about the injunction to turn off mobile devices for takeoff and landing.

We Found a Free Smartphone Embedded Inside Entertainment Weekly (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)