For Apple's mobile devices (iPod, iPhone, iPad):

Does Apple allow hardware differences among models of a single device family?

e.g. Do all iPad 3's have the same technical specs or is the Verizon iPad 3 technically different aside from the addition of LTE?

If there's any documentation on this (teardowns?) it'd be helpful for medical regulatory purposes so we don't need to buy 3 of each iPad/iPhone :)

For Samsung, individual carriers are allowed to customize each model of the S-whatever or Note whatever.

This leads to severe differences with components like the phone's mic sensitivity across the same device family. (eg. S3)

I want to know if Apple devices are susceptible to this kind of hardware fragmentation, or if Apple limits that.

  • too tired to do a full answer;-) There are differences, in network capability etc, GPRS, edge, 3G, LTE, but not enough that one model can't always use the same update. Apple make the hard & software, so it's up to them to keep an eye on it all [not always perfect, but less disparate than a dozen manufacturers all putting their own tweaks in]
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 20:47
  • Yeah I figured, just looking for definitive documentation on it.
    – Jess
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 20:48

1 Answer 1


While I can't find you documentation describing the exact hardware differences of each carrier's iPhones and iPads, it is to my knowledge that all Apple devices are relatively the same across the board, save cellular hardware.

However, Apple is known to source different components from different manufacturers, but there is nothing I can find to determine whether or not a certain carrier set of iDevices uses different hardware universally compared to another carrier.

An example of this was Apple's controversial sourcing of LG and Samsung displays for the first MacBook Pros with Retina Displays: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdhIA8-UIRQ

Wrapping it up, Apple may use components from different suppliers that may be marginally different in some aspect, but there's no evidence to suggest that one carrier has a different hardware set compared to another, excluding cellular hardware.

And with Apple's philosophy of delivering a consistent and delightful user experience no matter what type of Apple device their using leads me to believe that the differences in those components are negligible (though there was anger regarding the aforementioned rMBP display snafu).


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