Hey, great news! We didn’t have to steal a Project Tango unit from a developer, or have someone “accidentally leave it” in a bar. The folks at Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group were super-nice and provided us with a non-functional unit, which is otherwise identical to the 200+ developer Tangos now in the wild. We got the chance to sneak a peek inside the Tango and figure out just what makes it tick.
Dell’s products have consistently impressed us with their modularity and repairability. Time and time again, Dell’s products have scored well on our teardown table. The Dell XPS 10 even tops the list of our most repairable tablets, earning a 9/10 for repairability. Now the recycling industry has independently verified iFixit’s findings. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) just announced Dell Inc. as the recipient of its 2014 Design for Recycling (DFR) Award.
Today we focus on taking apart the Gear Fit. This little gus has quite the unique construction, given its round shape. The motherboard is split into three separate pieces, and joined together via interconnect cables. This design enables the motherboard to be curved, so it can be stuffed into the rounded case. A curved AMOLED display rests on top of the unit, and unfortunately you have to pry it off to gain access to the internals. The Fit earned a 6/10 repairability score.
Following the fixable Gear 2, the S5 is a bit of a disappointment. Samsung made things harder to fix. The S III and S4 featured internal components on the back of a large display assembly. The S5, however, sandwiches the components in their own difficult-to-access compartment between the display and the battery. As a result, the S5 received a fitting 5 out of 10 repairability score—a full three points less than last year’s model, and the lowest we’ve ever scored a Samsung smartphone.
Equipped with screws and a snap-off rear case, the Gear 2 is a sturdy device you won’t need to baby, or feel guilty about buying. When the battery fails, you can open it up and drop in a replacement, extending its useful life far beyond its trendiness. The Gear 2 earns an impressive 8 out of 10 on our repairometers for letting you keep it alive long after smartwatches become passé.
Two days ago Amazon announced a tiny black box that supposedly does everything better than all of the other tiny black boxes. Always excited to investigate such claims, we ordered one and cracked it open. What did we find? A stylish — yet hard to disassemble — black box full of fairly ordinary components. It was a doozy to take apart, and quite repair-unfriendly given that a single board holds all the vital components. It scored a midpack 6 out of 10 on our Repair-ometer.
I admit it. I’m one of millions of Americans sporting a slick, wafer-thin cell phone. And, like so many others, I’m rarely (if ever) without it. But if we all knew a little more about our beloved smart phones—found out where they come from and how they’re made—we might discover a tarnish in the gleaming surface of our phones. Our smartphones actually aren’t all that smart: they’re harming workers, poisoning critical ecosystems, and challenging the premise that technology makes the world better.
There are a lot of reasons why I’m involved in repair culture. Repair makes me feel empowered, it helps me learn engineering, and it connects me to my things. But one of the best parts about being a participant in repair culture is getting to talk to fantastic people all over the world. You may be amazed at how vast and diverse repair culture is. You may be amazed at how many hackers, tinkers, reusers, and recyclers there are—people who are interested in making the world a better place. And in my job, I’m lucky enough to connect with all of them.
Just shy of a year after the release of HTC’s “One” flagship smartphone, the lovingly-named HTC One (M8) is out, and “all new.” So what happened to the least repairable smartphone after a year of design improvements and refinement? Well, say hello to the second-least-repairable smartphone we’ve laid our hands on. Now it’s merely difficult—instead of nearly impossible—to disassemble the phone without destroying it.
Confidence comes from the comfort. But that comes with years and years of experience. I think that a lot of people who are new to the idea of repair have a little bit of fear—as opposed to calmly saying, “okay let me sit down and try to learn it.” I would say to those people: Repair is really not as intimidating as you might think. If you sat down and just took apart one piece today, then maybe you can move on to the next piece tomorrow—then the next and the next.
About 20 years ago, the mom-and-pop repair shops that used to be a staple of every community started to disappear—shunted out of business by an onslaught of goods designed to be cheap and disposable. And as repair shops disappeared, so did the possibility of repair for people without the skill or time to fix things on their own. So NYC residents Sandra Goldmark and Michael Banta started Pop-up Repair—and now they are filling the holes in our neighborhoods where repair shops used to be.
Are you going to Macworld? Because we are, and we’d like to meet you there. Macworld—held from March 27-29 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco—is the ultimate conference for Apple fans. It also happens to be one of our very favorite events—and this year we’ll be out in full force. We have three official Macworld events scheduled on Thursday, March 27th. Then, later that evening, we’re heading over to Techshop for an iFixit meet-up party. We’d love to see you at any, or all, of the events.