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iPad mini teardown sheds new mild on jelly scrolling controversy

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iFixit’s iPad mini teardown 2021.

A recent teardown of Apple’s newest iPad mini from iFixit has found a clue that could explain the “jelly scrolling” effect that some tablet users have complained about.

In case you missed our previous coverage on the subject, some iPad mini users have noticed a subtle, wobbly separation between the right and left sides of the screen as they scroll through content. Some people see it right away, others need to be pointed out, and others still don’t notice, even when it is said.

After we wrote about it, Apple commented on the story to us that the effect is expected. From our reporting:

In response to our query, Apple informed us that the jelly scroll problem on the 6th generation iPad mini is normal behavior for LCD screens. Because these screens are updated line by line, there is a tiny delay between updating the lines at the top of the screen and the lines at the bottom. This can lead to uneven scrolling issues as seen on the iPad.

When disassembling the Mini, iFixit found that the controller board that powers the tablet’s display is oriented vertically. The iPad Air, on the other hand, is oriented horizontally. iFixit suggests that the jelly scrolling effect occurs when the orientation of the tablet does not match the placement of the controller board, as the line-by-line update is also relative to the orientation of the board.

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In fact, slow motion footage from the iPad mini shows jelly scrolling in portrait (a vertical orientation) but not landscape (a horizontal). And the iPad Air also showed jelly scrolling in the same test; it only does this in the horizontal orientation instead of the portrait orientation.

The iPad Pro has a vertically oriented display controller board. While another video test showed that jelly scrolling on this tablet was still done in portrait mode, just as it was on the Mini, the Pro’s 120Hz refresh rate masks this for most human eyes. All of this means that although the effect is more noticeable on one device than on another, it is common on any OLED or LCD display, iPad or other device.

Aside from the recent online controversy over the jelly scrolling of the iPad mini, iFixit’s teardowns are usually focused on examining how easily repairable devices are. The iPad mini received 3 out of 10 points for repairability. Earlier this week, iFixit also tore down the iPhone 13 Pro, giving it 6 out of 10.

Offer image from iFixit

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