Professional gadget-tinkerers at iFixit have put together a list of smartphones rated by how easy they are to repair. Apple’s flagship new iPhones are by no means the worst on the list, but, as is typical with Cupertino’s devices, they’re fiddly enough for amateurs to have to resort to consulting an Apple genius.
Motorola’s Droid Bionic is at the top of the charts, scoring 9 out of 10 – 10 being the easiest to repair – as the battery can be removed in “seconds” and its design allows for quick and easy replacement of individual parts.Whether you want one is another question. Motorola’s Atrix 4G was tied, because the LC and front glass are not fused so can be easily replaced individually. The battery’s simple to remove, too, but components are soldered in place.
Of the big hitters in 2013, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is right on top with 8 out of 10. The South Korean giant’s battery is easy to replace and the device itself is simple to open for access to internal components. Some of these components are adhered to the back of a fused display assembly, so it’s not all plain sailing.
Blackberry’s ill fated Z10 also scored a decent mark, at 8, thanks to its easy to replace battery and standard screws that make it easy to open. Smaller components are strongly adhered in place – which is generally what you want until it’s time to replace something. Motorola’s Moto X scored a 7 for easy to replace individual components and using just one kind of screw throughout, but the strong adhesive on the back cover makes opening the phone tricky.
Apple’s iPhone 5S and 5C both scored a 6 for the same reasons: the front panel is easy to remove and replace, but the battery is adhered in place and difficult to take out. You’ll also need a proprietary pentalobe driver to open the devices. This puts them behind the iPhone 5 (score: 7) with an easy to remove and replace front panel and a “relatively easy to replace” battery. Again, you’ll need a pentalobe driver to get it open.
Despite its positive reviews, the HTC One has the dubious honour of worst score for 2013, with a dismal 1 out of 10. iFixit rates the phone’s durable shell, but says it’s “virtually impossible to open without extreme damage to the rear case”. The battery, meanwhile, is buried underneath the motherboard and solidly stuck to the midframe.