updated 09:35 am EDT, Mon March 14, 2011
iPad 2 Smart Cover torn down by iFixit
A unique teardown by iFixit of the iPad 2's Smart Cover and its match-up in the iPad has revealed a more elaborate system than many first thought. The two use a total of 31 magnets, 21 in the cover and 10 in the iPad itself, and are in a more complex layout than some might initially suspect. Only one round magnet in the cover, and a corresponding sensor, turns the display on or off; the rest are used to keep the iPad in place and help keep the cover folded up when used as a stand.
The four magnets on the iPad's right-hand side alternate in polarity and are key to the Smart Cover aligning itself properly every time. Of the four plates inside the cover, the two on the opposite ends are metal and designed to both hold the magnets as well as support the cover in stand mode, while the two in the middle are just plastic supports. The sheer number of magnets in the stand is to prevent this arrangement from "literally falling apart," the repair team found out.
iFixit jokingly gave the accessory a zero score for repairability, though it was never intended or realistic to be disassembled in that way. Apple wasn't using any exotic technology such as correlated magnets. The cover likely costs much less to make than the $39 it charges, but its construction is more advanced than some might have suggested and more than a typical polyurethane or silicone case.