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
If thin is in, then thinner must be…inner. Microsoft made serious strides, taking their Surface Pro series closer to the laptop frontier than ever before, while still keeping up with the tablet game. Result: a slim, uber-powered tablet with paper thin display glass, and severely limited upgradeability and repairability.
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.
Back in October, we told you about maker and friend-of-iFixit, David Lang. At the time, David had just written a book for novice makers called Zero to Maker. In the book, David writes about trying to fix a Magic Bullet, a handheld blender with spotty repair documentation. Well, one of our favorite community members read about David’s struggles, found a Magic Bullet, took it apart, and posted a teardown on iFixit. Just because he wanted to help. Gotta love fixers.
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.
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.
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.