When a device like the Oculus Rift DK2 comes through our doors, the folks at iFixit dance around like giddy schoolgirls and schoolboys. We literally have to fight them—sometimes to the death—to keep their grubby hands off it long enough to complete the teardown. The DK2’s excellent 9 out of 10 repairability score meant we didn’t break the device and incite a riot. But truly, we’re more excited about all the fun stuff we found inside, including the 40 infrared LEDs.
It’s like the Galaxy S5, but mini. Quick subtraction shows that the Galaxy S5 Mini shaved off 10.9 mm in height and 7.2 mm in width, but added 1.2 mm in thickness when compared to its larger brother. The Mini wasn’t just scaled down on the outside; the screen resolution, processor, RAM, and battery capacity all take a hit. But the question remains: does this minor change in size make a major difference in repairability?
We had high hopes that Amazon built a solid, repairable Fire Phone. It began with a similar opening procedure to the current crop of iPhones, but with welcome Torx T3 screws instead of Pentalobes. However, all of the fancy tech we found inside made for a veritable mess of cables, connectors, and glue. The tech-laden phone ended up scoring a less-than-stellar 3 out of 10 on our repairability scale, with the only real positive being the opening procedure.
Today we had the newiest of the new Android Wear smartwatches grace our teardown table—the Samsung Gear Live and the LG G Watch! Interestingly enough, both watches took a page out of the Samsung Gear 2’s book with regard to external and internal design. We’re not saying that LG cloned Samsung’s creation, but there are marked similarities between the two. Yet despite the similarities, we found a few important tidbits supporting a higher repairability score for the LG G Watch
On the teardown table today is the $350, top-of-the line, 64 GB One-chilada. The OnePlus One scored a mid-pack 5 out of 10 on repairability. There’s definitely some finagling that has to occur in order to get the repair must-haves—the battery and the display—out of the phone. Thankfully the battery isn’t terribly difficult to remove (although harder than necessary), and if the display glass ever meets its concrete-laden demise, the repair is still not insurmountable.
Hey, so guess what? We took apart the new-for-2014, $100-cheaper MacBook Airs, and found almost nothing new inside. Our spudgers get misty anytime a new device ends up on the teardown table, but this Air iteration was too uninteresting to warrant a full-blown (or even a half-blown) teardown. The sole change between last year’s and this year’s models: the 100MHz-faster processors—lovely Haswell units labeled SRT16T. We wrote a full set of repair guides for both new models anyway.
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.
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.
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.
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.