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  1. A far more repairable design than older Surfaces Microsoft’s new Surface Pro X computer may not have taken the world by storm as a Windows-on-ARM showcase, but as iFixit’s teardown reveals, the new hardware design is groundbreaking in other respects by being far easier to repair than other Surfaces. When Microsoft announced the Surface Pro X, it highlighted the removable SSD, which is hidden behind a pop-up door alongside the SIM card and can be easily removed by taking out a single screw. But there are plenty of other changes Microsoft has made here that make the Surface Pro X easier to repair than older models (like the Surface Pro 6). The screen is held down with foam adhesive instead of the globs of glue that nearly every other tablet-style device uses. All of the screws are standard Torx screws, making it relatively simple to take apart once the screen is off. iFixit also praises the Surface Pro X for featuring a variety of modular components, particularly for the USB and Surface Connect ports, meaning you’ll be able to replace just a single part if something goes wrong, not the whole laptop. On the flip side, the teardown found that the battery is extremely difficult to remove, requiring almost the entire laptop to be disassembled to get it out. Given that battery replacements are one of the more common hardware repairs (especially as devices get older and batteries wear down), that’s a bit disappointing. While the screen is easier to remove than nearly any other tablet, you’ll still have to remove it for most repairs, which means that you’ll probably still need to take it into a repair shop for anything more serious than swapping the SSD. Still, iFixit ranks the Surface Pro X at a 6 out of 10 on its repairability scale, making it the most repairable Surface tablet the company has made. It’s also easier to repair than any of Apple’s current iPad hardware. Assuming Microsoft continues to build new hardware with the Surface Pro X’s design language in future years, that level of repairability is a very encouraging thing to see. Source: Surface Pro X teardown confirms it’s easier to repair than any other Surface or iPad (via The Verge)
  2. At least Apple will recycle them iFixit has completed its traditional teardown of Apple’s latest AirPods and, just as Apple promised, it’s bad news for repairs. The organization awarded the noise-canceling buds a big fat zero repairability score, noting that their “non-modular, glued-together design and lack of replacement parts makes repair both impractical and uneconomical.” That’s the same score as both versions of the original AirPods. This means that once the battery in your $249 AirPods Pro degrades and eventually dies, there’s no chance of repairing them yourself. Instead, you’ll have to send them back to Apple for recycling, or take part in the “battery service” program at a cost of $49-per-earbud out of warranty. The teardown does reveal a couple of interesting details about the design of the earbuds. First is the fact that they’re a whole third heavier than the original AirPods, thanks to new features like active noise-cancellation, and an inward-facing microphone. The teardown also notes that the one user-replaceable part of the earbuds, the silicone ear-tip, uses a custom design that makes them incompatible with third-party models. That said, the popularity of the AirPods all but guarantees other companies will be making third-party tips soon. Most intriguing is the discovery of a watch-style battery inside each earbud. iFixit notes that it’s a similar battery to what it found in Samsung’s Galaxy Buds which could be replaced. However, the same is not true of the AirPods Pro, whose battery is tethered by a soldered cable. It’s no surprise that the AirPods Pro are a disposable product, designed to be as small and lightweight as possible. And compared to the amount of waste generated by the consumer electronics industry, the environmental impact of each AirPod Pro is likely to be low. But as Apple boasts about the amount of renewable energy its buildings use, and the amount of recycled materials it uses in its products, it’s a shame to see one of its biggest product successes in recent years remain so disposable. Update October 31st, 6:45AM ET: Updated with details of Apple’s “battery service” program. Source: AirPods Pro teardown confirms that they’re just as disposable as ever (via The Verge)
  3. The new inspection reveals Samsung's additional display safeguards. iFixit pulled its first Galaxy Fold teardown after Samsung scrapped the phone's April launch to improve its durability. Now that the foldable has finally reached stores, though, it's ready for take two. The DIY repair site has posted a teardown for the revised Galaxy Fold that reveals both the known innards and, crucially, the additional protections for that folding screen. The teardown crew noted that Samsung faced a clear challenge trying to safeguard the screen. It could protect some of the obvious entry points for debris that caused so much chaos in April, such as covering a gap in the bezel and plastering the hinges with tape, but there was only so much it could do with all the necessary moving parts. There's a chance debris could still enter the hinge area and affect its functionality, even if the back of the display (which includes "surprisingly rigid" reinforcement) is that much safer. One thing's for sure: the Fold still isn't very repair-friendly. Many components are modular and can be replaced by themselves, but the fragile display and its mechanics are "likely" to wear down and eventually require a costly replacement. A recent endurance test showed that it might not fold as many times as Samsung estimated, perhaps dying after about three years of normal usage. Replacements for the heavily glued-down batteries are difficult, too, and the glass is similarly hard to work with. To put it another way, the $1,980 you'll drop on the Galaxy Fold is more of an initial investment that's likely to deepen if you're determined to keep the phone working for a long time. Source
  4. The new 10.2-inch iPad uses repurposed features from previous products, according to iFixit. The new iPad uses an iPhone 7 processor. Apple's latest iPad "mostly inherits hand-me-down features" from previous iPhones and iPads, according to a teardown report by iFixit. Despite many "repurposed" features, though, including an iPhone 7 A10 Fusion processor, iFixit called the update to Apple's tablet a "solid incremental improvement." The 10.2-inch iPad, unveiled during Apple's iPhone 11 event earlier in September, starts at $329 (£349, AU$529) and is available Sept. 30 with the new iPad OS. It's a bigger version of the previous 9.7-inch iPad. Despite having the same battery as last time with a bigger screen, Apple retained the 10-hour battery life with better power efficiency, iFixit said Friday. The publication also praised the addition of a Smart Connector so keyboards can be attached, and the RAM improvement to 3GB. "This turned out to be a pretty light refresh! Just a size increase, the addition of a Smart Connector, and an extra GB of RAM," iFixit said. "With great size comes big responsibility: the new iPad finally gets Apple's Smart Connector for keyboard compatibility. Yay for productivity!" However, the company gave the new iPad a repairability score of just 2 out of 10 because of "a solid barrier of very strong adhesive" as well as the Lightning port being soldered to the logic board. The new 10.20-inch iPad comes in space gray, silver and gold, and in 32GB and 128GB options (the latter starts at $429). The Wi-Fi + cellular iPads cost $429 for 32GB and $559 for 128GB. "iPad is a magical piece of glass that can be anything we want it to be," Greg Joswiak, Apple's VP of product marketing, said during the Apple event on Sept. 10. Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on iFixIt's findings. Source
  5. Repairing the phone won’t be easy. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G will be available online and in stores tomorrow. Just in time, the folks at iFixit are sharing a peek inside the new device. Most notably, the phone borrows one major design queue from the iPhone, and it won't be super easy to repair. Like the iPhone X, the Note 10+ positions the motherboard at the top half of the phone. While this allows the battery to be wider, it requires cables between mother and daughterboard. Those block access to the battery. They can be moved to the side, but they'll add a challenge to repairs. Speaking of repairs, iFixit points out that every repair requires un-gluing the fragile glass rear cover. Replacing the glued-down battery is difficult, and common display repairs "require either a complete teardown or replacing half the phone." Overall, iFixit gives the Note 10+ a repairability score of 3 out of ten. The device also has a new vibration motor, which breaks Samsung's trend of using the same circular motor in all of its phone buzzers. As iFixit says, that could mean Samsung is taking haptic feedback more seriously -- or not. And of course, there's no headphone jack or Bixby button. You can take a look at the full teardown here and read our first take on the phone here. Source
  6. Tons of ingress points allow dirt to enter the device and damage the display. It might be delayed for at least a month, but Samsung's futuristic Galaxy Fold has hit the iFixit Teardown table. How exactly did iFixit get its hands on a phone that has never been for sale and has had all its review units recalled? It's probably best not to think too much about it. What matters is that we get to see the insides! Between this teardown and an earlier blog post, iFixit has been building a compelling theory for why the Fold has been dying an early death for some reviewers. The problem, simply, is ingress. While most other smartphones are resistant to the ingress of just about everything, to the point of being watertight, the Galaxy Fold is full of holes. Traditional slab-style smartphones have their displays bonded to a Gorilla Glass panel, which is then glued onto the front of the phone for a water-tight seal. That doesn't work for a foldable display that needs to bend and move, so the Galaxy Fold has a plastic display that rests on top of the phone and is held on only with a thin, plastic bezel that is glued along the edge. These bezels aren't flexible enough to cover the folding area of the phone, though, so they just don't. The plastic bezel stops before the hinge, so the display edge is just exposed to the world, opening a hole into the device. You can actually stick stuff under the display at this point, and if the wrong bit of anything gets stuck under the display, it can push into the back of the display and damage it. To make matters worse, when folded, the flexible display is designed to lift away from the rigid phone body somewhat, providing an ample ingress space for pocket lint and other detritus. If dirt gets behind the display when folded, and then you unfold it, the hinge mechanism can push the dirt into the back of the display, damaging it. The hinge is also an ingress point into the phone. Large gaps along the left and right of the spine allow bits of dirt to enter the phone, but considering this is on the back of the phone, it's probably not as much of a threat to the display as the hole in the front. So far we've seen three Galaxy Folds with lumps under the display. In the initial reports, the Verge's review unit famously had a bit of something go behind the display and destroy it. Then Swiss site Blick had something that "looked and felt like a grain of sand" appear under the display, but eventually it dissapeared. YouTuber Michael Fisher has been the third victim, saying, "A little grain of something found its way beneath my Galaxy Fold display." Fisher had to return his phone before it could be determined if the display would have died. OLED displays are extremely fragile—much more fragile than LCDs—and can't survive when exposed to oxygen or moisture. A thin "encapsulation" layer is the only thing protecting the OLED display from the outside world, and if anything damages this layer, like say, a bit of pocket lint, the display is toast. The second problem with the Galaxy Fold was from people removing the plastic screen protector, which was enough to damage the fragile OLED display. iFixit notes that this screen protector looks very similar to the one pre-installed on devices like the Galaxy S10 and asks if users aren't supposed to remove it, "Why not extend this layer under the bezels to hide it from peel-happy folks like us?" The only explanation we can come up with is that the display protector was a last-second solution slapped onto the devices after they were manufactured. After being told not to remove this layer, iFixit still removed this layer (some temptations are too strong to resist), and sure enough, this tiny bit of stress was enough to kill the display. As for the non-display parts of the phone, the hinge for the Galaxy Fold is an ultra complicated work of art. There are so many folding and moving parts that the hinge is just mesmerizing once the exterior cladding is removed. We can't embed it here, but iFixit has a video of the naked hinge working, and it's a must see. Inside you'll find two batteries, one on the left and right side of the phone, and after that iFixit notes that you're down to "pretty standard-looking Galaxy smartphone parts." Every phone on the iFixit bench gets a repairability score, and the Galaxy Fold gets a meager "2." The site cites the loads of glue used on the backs and batteries as making a repair harder than it needs to be and says the hinge, lack of ingress protection, and fragile display will make repairs more likely in the future. With the Galaxy Fold being delayed at least a month for reworking, we'll have to keep an eye on any changes between this first version and what is eventually released. Will Samsung do something about all the ingress points? Will the screen protector be extended under the bezel so it can't be pulled off? For now, the last official word from Samsung was that it is still investigating what it will do with the Fold and has promised an update in "the coming weeks." Source: iFixit’s Samsung Galaxy Fold teardown reveals how the phone is dying (Ars Technica) Poster's note: The original article contains several image galleries. To view the complete article, please visit the above link.
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