Samsung And Apple, Two Takes On The Right To Repair
When Screws Are Worse Than Glue
It has not gone unnoticed that our mobile electronics are getting harder and harder to repair, not just from news posted on sites like iFixit but from personal experiences from trying to have damaged devices repaired. The Register recently posted about the difficulties in repairing two new gadgets, one from Samsung and one from Apple, specifically the S21 series and the AirPod Max wireless headphones.
Unusually, it turns out that Samsung’s decision to glue these phones together resulted in relatively easy to fix device, while Apple’s mostly screwed together earphones are not. Generally this would not be the case, as screws are preferred to glue but as it turns out that depends on the screws used. The AirPod Max is held together with an impressive amount of screws which include torx, pentalobe and “one they couldn’t quite identify at first glance“, as well as a bit of glue on the ear cup grills.
Samsung on the other hand glued the S21 together but when iFixit applied a bit of heat the polymer backplate popped right off and they were able to get full access to the interior. That will also make it easier to reassemble than the AirPod Max as you are going to have to make sure you know exactly where every single screw came from, they are dissimilar enough that you can’t fudge a couple of them.
It is wonderful that both can be repaired by their owners or a repair shop but one can’t help but feel the one company is only reluctantly allowing this.
Preliminary teardowns suggest the Samsung Galaxy S21 is easier to fix than its predecessors, sidestepping some of the more dubious design decisions that previously frustrated third-party repair shops.