HTC One 'Impossible To Repair' Says iFixit - InformationWeek

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09:19 AM

HTC One 'Impossible To Repair' Says iFixit

HTC did such an incredible job piecing the One smartphone together that it is practically unrepairable, teardown outfit concludes.

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Do-it-yourselfers take note: You're probably not going to be able to fix the HTC One on your own, no matter how skilled you may be. This is the conclusion reached by iFixit, which tore down the HTC One only to find its seamless construction makes it incredibly difficult to pull apart without causing damage.

One of HTC's goals in designing and manufacturing the One was to create a seamless case with no screws or other assembly elements present. It succeeded. The One is made from milled aluminum (something that has delayed the One's launch), plastic and glass, all of which are assembled tightly. HTC called the process "zero-gap construction." It was able to inject plastic in between the metallic surfaces in such a way as to be sure there were no gaps between the two materials in the final product.

A heat gun is the first weapon needed to beat the zero-gap construction. iFixit said the heat gun can soften up the materials holding the display in place, and that a suction cup can help dislodge the display assembly from the body. That's the easy part. After that, everything is pretty tough.

[ HTC has high hopes for its new smartphone -- and for good reason. See HTC One Can Compete With Apple, Samsung. ]

"While the display can be lifted, it can't be removed without first disconnecting the display ribbon cables, which are routed underneath the case assembly," said Miroslav Djuric, iFixit's chief information architect. Once the display is removed, the next step is to pull out the motherboard assembly, which is attached to the rear shell of the One. IFixit calls this an "arduous and daunting task."

"It took us over half an hour to separate the rear aluminum case from the functional components of the phone. Worse yet, our diligent spudgering [prying] appears to have permanently mangled the plastic bezel surrounding the aluminum case. It's possible that prying at a snail's pace while applying heat could minimize this damage, but we're not too hopeful. This phone was not made with openability in mind."

Fewer and fewer phones can be opened these days. The Apple iPhone is among the most notable devices to have a secure enclosure, but many other manufacturers have followed suit. HTC (One, 8X) and Nokia (Lumia 920, 900, 800) are perhaps the two most well-known OEMs to field devices with unremovable batteries, for example. Samsung and BlackBerry have taken the opposite approach with their handsets, and almost always offer devices that can be opened.

Once the motherboard assembly is pried loose, other components can be accessed, though not easily. For example, the battery is glued to the device's mid-frame, and the camera module can't be touched until nearly every other component is first removed.

Given the difficulty of pulling the One apart to begin with, and the high possibility of damaging its parts in the process, iFixit scored the One with a repairability of 1 out of 10. The HTC One is the first cellphone to receive such a low repairability rating.

By way of comparison, iFixit recently tore down the BlackBerry Z10. BlackBerry's new smartphone earned one of the highest repairability ratings, an 8 out of 10.

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User Rank: Apprentice
4/18/2015 | 8:48:12 AM
The Internet: where mean people come to be heard.
I'm sorry that you got such awful comments to this interesting article Eric.  It amazes me that anyone would care enough to go out of their way to make a comment that absolutely nobody could care about.

Servicabliity is a major and underconsidered factor in our technological evolution.  I stopped buying Apple products when I realized that Apple designed iPods to break when we try to repair them.  Smartphones are even more expensive - would anyone buy a car that turned to rubbish when the battery died?  Maybe very dumb people, but hoepfully it wouldnt catch on as it has with smartphones.

I repaired my HTC One m7 last night, so I felt a glimmer of pride when I read this article.  I put my motherboard and battery into one that had a failed battery (a guy was seeling it on Craigslist for parts for $50).  Guitar picks of various weights help - but I didn't use a hair dryer.  You're just as likely (or more) to damage soft plastics (like this phone's containment ring) by heating them when you're applying pressure.  They do come in handy for touchscreen repairs though, on account of the glass-adhesive interface.

This isn't essentially about profits - zero gap design, stability, and utility are also tough variables to balance.  HTC rightly banked on most people not caring about the long-term value of their $4-500+ smartphones.  But we should care.  Money's going to keep getting more scarce as the plutocrats keep funnelling it into marketplace gambling casinos, and if we can't open the thing up and fix it when it inevitably fails in some key way, then our apathy is going to suddenly bite us in the wallet, hard.
User Rank: Apprentice
3/12/2014 | 8:26:30 AM
But i do care!
Speak for yourself. I do care. Repairability is always on my top list. It is also very important to be able to swap the battery yourself (or replace it for a meager $30), rather than being dependent on some company who will do it just after your warranty is void for $129. The battery is STILL the most wear-prone part in your phone. I'm still using a Galaxy S3 (which suits me well) and loved how I could just order a battery and replace it in 10 seconds. It's good to go for another few years now. I never understood why people preferred non-replaceable parts (as its actually only a drawback)... and for what reason? Better aesthetics? Samsung makes beautiful devices and I'm sure seemless devices can be made with a replaceable battery putting just a little more effort and money. I will be happy to pay for it.

Non-replaceable parts turns a phone into a throw-away item. It makes people throw away perfectly well functioning phones just because the battery wears out. It's an outrageously retarded concept with more drawbacks (for people as well as the environment) than benefits.

The only benefit I see is for the manufacturer. It makes people coming back for more devices as soon as the battery wears out. I'm sure that's the only and primary motivation behind this. And the users will eat it like its the best thing since sliced bread!
User Rank: Apprentice
3/31/2013 | 5:25:21 AM
re: HTC One 'Impossible To Repair' Says iFixit
So; who tries to fix their phone? The % is so small; this falls int the who cares category.
User Rank: Ninja
3/30/2013 | 5:51:34 AM
re: HTC One 'Impossible To Repair' Says iFixit
Seriously, no one cares.
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