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back to article iPad Air BARES ALL, reveals she's a high maintenance lady

According to the teardown fanatics at iFixit, Apple's new iPad Air is twice as easy to repair as Microsoft's equally new Surface 2 – which received an as-low-as-you-can-go repairability rating of 1 out of a possible 10. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that the iPad Air is only one small step away from being as …

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Is there anybody who approves of this?

The apparent trend to permanently seal devices with glue and other PITA fastenings needs to be stopped. Regulars round here will know that I think tree-huggers should be burned as a renewable fuel, but on this one I suspect there's common cause between technofiles and the environmental lobby.

Whether for service or recycling, it is unforgiveable to see this sort of penny pinching that guarantees a one way trip to landfill, regardless of the label on the outside. Designers should be smart enough to know that more regulation won't help them, but things like simply invite it. Hint to law makers: Make sure you hit corporate margins, not end user prices, please.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

How often do you take your phone or tablet apart?

What about your TV, your washing machine? they're appliances not desktop computers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

Yes. Me. It may not have occured to you but glue is lighter than any fastener that would stand the strain.

I have no interest in repairability. I am typing this on a water damaged ipad2 (don't ask) that is about to be replaced by a new shiny shiny. The fact that I cannot repair it does not bother me one tiny little bit. Far easier to simply buy a new one.

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JDX
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Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

The question is not "is making it hard to repair a bad thing" but "do the gains of making it this hard to repair outweigh the problems".

It's not my specialist subject, but could they make the thing as light, slim and resilient using more accessible fastenings (i.e. screws and stuff)?

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Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

How often do you take your phone or tablet apart?

If it's broken? Pretty regularly. I'll happily rip a gadget to pieces if I can fix it myself.

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Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

So don't buy such devices if you're one of those who will actually take it apart and try to repair it yourself. 99% of the public will not, even if they own some other brand of tablet that scored a 10/10 for repairability.

Not being able to repair it yourself != it is not repairable. Just means you have to take it to Apple or pay someone to do the same who has the proper tools and know-how.

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Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

can't hit corporate margins without hitting end user prices. End user price is where margins come from. Unless you want to eliminate the regulated market we now have.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

If we move back to homegrown production and higher prices then perhaps things will have to last longer and be more upgradable or repairable?

But technology moves on fast and people do tend to get used to things being chuckable.

Earlier today I replaced the battery in my Braun electric toothbrush. It required some disassembly, desoldering and soldering. The only reason I could open the thing was due to it being designed to be recycled. It's lasted me about 5 years, so it's not done too badly. But I refuse to buy another one simply because the battery is aging.

But that is just a toothbrush, I can't imagine one I would buy now being anymore advanced?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

Then you're either clumsy or careless?

I also will take stuff apart, but I've never had to take a phone or tablet apart for years.

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FAIL

Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

How often? I've taken more than 10 iPhone 4S devices apart and replaced screens, batteries, buttons and scratched/dented bezels. Piece of cake if a little fiddly. But an iPad with a cracked screen was a biatch to repair and I vowed never again real quick. I told subsequent people to take theirs back to Apple.

Thus their (marketing) policy works..,

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Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

TV never; I threw mine out years ago. Washing machine, more recently. It's amazing how long an appliance will work when one can replace moving parts.

WRT IT... I've been in the manufacturing R&D side of electronics for 30 years, though now only part time as I as trying to retire, and while once upon a time I had to repair laptops under test to continue testing, for my own now, if they're cheap enough to replace, I don't need to.

Desktops and towers are another story; easy-peasy.

ARE Surface et amici cheap enough? That depends how often they need repair, doesn't it?

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Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

Worst battery every - really. So let's see you can engineer a device to use a smaller battery more efficiently and get branded 'worst battery ever' or you can take the alternate route of fitting more and more cores in a desperate bid for performance and having to stick a much larger battery in the device.

Suspect the reason a lot of (non Apple) devices are getting larger screens is more about being able to hide a larger battery behind them while not actually improving their efficiency.

Bottom line is Apple have fitted a 64-bit, potentially much faster CPU, slimmed the device down and made it much lighter while keeping the same battery life (which was already great) - sounds pretty good to me.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

Yeah and how often is that possible and how many people would. Suspect we are in the 1% range here.

The point is Apple will fix the stuff for you or there will be plenty of 3rd party companies willing and able to do it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

Getting Apple to fix it is not really a problem. Let's see the new Applecare Plus includes 2 incidents over 2 years of accidental damage - so smash your screen, take it back and they fix it (replace the phone probably) for the insurance excess (think around £50).

A family member had a damaged / faulty iPhone 4 completely replaced out of warranty for about £125 - yes you could buy the parts yourself and find someone to fit them and hope they are genuine parts (unlikely) or at least decent copies but you always run that risk that they are not. I would personally not use non-original batteries on a device that lives in my pocket a lot of the time and sits on charge about 2 feet from my head while I am sleeping!

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Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

"How often do you take your phone or tablet apart?"

Even if you never do, wouldn't you prefer a technician to be able to open it and swap some insignificant (or significant, for that matter) broken part in a matter of minutes and at a cost or a few currency units, rather than throw away the whole device?

To say nothing about planned upgradability.

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Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

"How often do you take your phone or tablet apart?"

Not often. But just dismantled the wife's Nexus to stick in a new screen and digitiser after accident damage. If that were glued up then it would have been a throw away.

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Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

"can't hit corporate margins without hitting end user prices."

Ultimately yes. But if there's an additonal cost associated with non-serviceable products, then the company has to consider whether it wants that as extra margin, or will pay the cost. Broadly speaking most devices made by most makers aren't price setters, and the price is set by what the market will pay. In that case a corporate tax is not a readily passed on cost, even though it is ultimately out of customer's pockets. The point then is that with a more serviceable product the company would charge the same, but keep more of the income.

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FAIL

Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

There was a time when it was possible to repair TVs, washing machines and phones on the spot. Today we have cars where you cannot change a light bulb on the road, instead you have to take the whole front of the car apart and pay a hell of a lot for that one damned bulb. That is an intentional scum and as far as I know the EU is trying to do something about it. Newer by a car where you cannot change a bulb by yourself. My opinion of a cell phone where you cannot change the battery is similar, it's a scum too.

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Happy

Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

"Not being able to repair it yourself != it is not repairable. Just means you have to take it to Apple or pay someone to do the same who has the proper tools and know-how."

Well my daughter broke the screen of her Sony laptop and those with the "proper tools and know-how" told me there is no problem at all except it will be cheaper to by a new one.

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WTF?

Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

" the regulated market" ??????????

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

If that was a iPad Air with Applecare+ you would have taken it back to Apple and paid £39 and got a new one - end of. Don't what the out of warranty cost is but a family member just got their 4 or 4S replaced for about £120.

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Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

To replace the battery? About once a year, though in my case, the only tools I need are a couple of fingernails.

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Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

laptop screens are a doddle

tools required = small phillips screwdriver + stanley knife blade (it's thin & strong enough to release the clips around the edge and its wide enough to leave no mark)

most desktop screens need the same tools.

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Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

@T. F. M. Reader: don't bother, he's buying Apple gear already, open source arguments won't work on him

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Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

Washing machines are quite regularly fixed, no?

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Mushroom

Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

The real issue is the poor Chinese buggers who sweat to make these shiny gadgets that everyone loves. Immoral to the core.

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Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

I own an Android and think nothing of it. 5 min and its done. Most of my friends with Androids also think nothing about changing a battery. Batteries can be worn out in as little as two year. I cant imagine anyone who would pay the high price of an Apple-whatever and having to throw it away after only two years. But then i guess that some have a lot more money than i do

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Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

Company planned UNupgradability: Apple, and some other vendors design these devices to be difficult or impossible to upgrade to ensure a market for the new devices to be issued in a year or two.

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Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

Can I offer the suggestion that it's not the actual battery itself that the iFixit guy is complaining about, but the way that it's been fixed to the case with half a ton of glue? Perhaps half a ton of glue where a couple of screws or a couple of small blobs of glue would have been equally sufficient?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

Well, I had to take my washing machine apart just a few weeks ago, to replace a door seal £25 including P&P . If you suggesting that they should be designed just like Apple Ipads - throw then away and spend another £800 instead of £25? Are you mad ?

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Gimp

Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

"...but glue is lighter than any fastener that would stand the strain."

If Apple was as smart as they like people to think they are, then they would design clips to hold everything together that are part of the case and fittings, strong and light, and would be seen as elegant solutions.

Instead- bodge it with glue like a 4-year old's macaroni picture.

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Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

Fair enough, I won't then. I've repaired an iPhone 3G before as they're fairly easy to disasemble (and replacing the screen on one myself was FAR cheaper than getting Apple to do it). Other than that, I'll stick with my Samsung phone which has a user-replaceable battery and an iFixit score of 9/10. At least I know if I drop it that replacing the screen is possible.

And even if I can't do it myself, the higher the iFixit score, the cheaper it's likely to be for a 3rd party repairer to do the job. Take an iPad Air to the guy on the market and I bet half of them will just refuse these days.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is there anybody who approves of this?

"Bottom line is Apple have fitted a 64-bit, potentially much faster CPU, slimmed the device down and made it much lighter while keeping the same battery life (which was already great) - sounds pretty good to me."

I can't quite tell whether you are inferring that being 64-bit make a CPU "potentially much faster". I hope you aren't. But just in case anyone reads this post and makes that assumption. Being 64 bit actually has a nasty habit of making things significantly slower. The only reason to need a 64 bit CPU is if you are running out of address space due to your process size going over 4GB.

Why does 64 bit slow you down? Well, firstly the executable size is bigger. This is obvious because everywhere you refer to a memory location in your code, you take up twice the space for it. Secondly, the process size is bigger for the same reason. What this means is that your use of processor cache (L1, L2, L3, etc.) is much less efficient.

64 bit is not necessarily better.

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Anonymous Coward

Recyclable not landfillable

The use of glue does not stop it being recycled

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Re: Recyclable not landfillable

The use of glue makes it EASIER to recycle. You can put batches into an oven to melt the glue rather than having to manually unscrew the mounts.

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Re: Recyclable not landfillable

Most modern industrial adhesives are complex and chemically unpleasant so while you are wasting energy toasting them in an oven you are also releasing nasty stuff into the atmosphere making that kind of recycling more unlikely or at least less efficient. Undoing a few screws to strip down a scrap item on the other hand is pretty easy if you don't have to worry about putting it back together.

For the fanbois, I am criticising Microsoft for their use of glues too but if you really want to down vote me knock yourself out.

Really! knock yourself out!

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Holmes

Re: Recyclable not landfillable

Most recycling is like this anyway:

1) Collect at (govnmt-run) recycling center

2) Put into large container

3) Ship to "recycler" in China

4) Recycler puts container contents into the ground while collecting money

5) Ship empty container back to recycling center

It's about California-style guilt abatment. One can then complain how China is evil and how communismcapitalism exploits poor workers etc.

California's Top Exports to China: Waste and Scrap on second place (via "China's Cap On American Garbage: Pseudo-Environmental States Impacted Most")

One day people will probably have to use thermonuclear devices to fuse all the crap into a mass of radioactive slag that can be resaonable forgotten about.

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Mushroom

Re: Recyclable not landfillable

Do you know what happens when you heat Lithium-ion (rechargable) batteries?

They go BOOM!

Have you ever read the warnings on devices that contain rechargeable batteries that use lithium - don't heat or dispose of in fire.

I would suggest that putting them in an oven is the very last thing that you want to do.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Recyclable not landfillable

The Reg is so lucky to have a large number of consumer, manufacturing and recycling expert amongst their readership. It's also really nice to know that they are totally representative of the marketplace. I'm going to cancel my subscription to Which? magazine immediately. Why bother paying for something when I get the advice and opinions of so many experts for free here.

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Re: Recyclable not landfillable

And why are you subscribed to "Which?" in the first place?

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Re: Recyclable not landfillable

"I would suggest that putting them in an oven is the very last thing that you want to do."

Or indeed, the third to last thing you ever WILL do (followed quickly by screaming and dying, of course)

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Stop

Re: Recyclable not landfillable

Ovens are things of variable temperature. You don't need to dial them up to 1000 degrees to melt glue. Depending on the glues uses you don't even need to hit 100 degrees C. iFixit themselves use a heat gun to soften glue mounted parts, and no, at these temperatures Lithium cells are not going to explode.

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Re: Recyclable not landfillable

I see that some folks on here have a different opinion of what "recyclable" means than I do. To me, recyclable means that it can be used by someone else, either as it is or with some refurbishment, or that the components can be easily removed locally and passed on. It doesn't mean being able to ship it to whichever country will reduce it to its component bits. Most of my tech comes to me second-hand, and always has done. For instance, I love Lenovo notebooks because they are rugged, easily fixed, and sold by companies after two or three years so I can pick up mature tech for a fraction of the cost. The only phones I ever bought new were my first and my current, though fiveof the hand-me-downs from contract-paying relatives are in still in use - two in the car (my Nokia 5210 doing a great job as a sat-nav, and one ancient blue Nokia (can't remember the designation) and a Sony Ericksson as backup phones because they both have better reception than my Note - useful in the back of beyond on a rally), another Nokia my wife won't let go of, and an Siemens that we use abroad because it doesn't matter if it gets lost/stolen/damaged. All of them are in fair condition and could be passed on to others if necessary. That is recyclable.

If there is a case to be made, I will consider a tablet, but it looks as if it will be an earlier one that can reasonably taken apart to change consumables - batteries - easily. To have hard-to-change consumables, as someone else mentioned in the context of car light-bulbs, is criminal.

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"they're appliances"

Well, that makes it alright then.

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The point is

The battery life of these things is probably less than that of the tablet itself so when you come to the end of the batteries life you will be forced to either dump the thing or go to a dealer who allegedly will know how to replace them and who probably will charge you double what you could get the batteries for on the net were they changeable in the way that most phone batteries are .

The same goes for repair, an owner will not be able to exercise their right to choose who should repair a piece of their property they will be obliged once again to go to a dealer.

This is protectionist retailing and in Europe is arguably illegal since it goes against fair trade, there are few good technical reasons why items should be assembled in this way, particularly in the case of Apple who could hardly be accused of having to pare down costs in order to offer their goods at a knock down price.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The point is

Apple will replace the battery on iPhones or iPads - not sure about an iPad but think it's about £50 for an iPhone which is not all that bad considering it's a genuine manufacturer part, fitted by them and probably means the phone is good for another 2-3 years+.

I can't replace the engine (myself) in my car either...

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JDX
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Re: The point is

Fixit were able to take it apart, that means any number of people running little kiosks and shops can do the same. The fixit guys aren't magicians... and they presumably only tried on one unit. Someone running a business of replacing your battery will do this hundreds of times and get VERY good at it.

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Re: The point is

I can't replace the engine (myself) in my car either...

But you can replace the battery, surely? Or swap out a wheel when you get a flat? Or change the oil?

No-one's asking to be able to completely disassemble the motherboard and replace the A7 (the correct comparison to a car engine), just to be able to have some serviceable parts, especially the low cost ones that fail most often.

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Facepalm

Re: Fixit were able to take it apart

You'll note that their final picture is of a pile of bits, not a reassembled and working tablet.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fixit were able to take it apart

@Pookietoo

That is always my first thought whenever I see one of these "teardowns". So these things are destined for landfill and that's a bad thing. But taking a brand new, working thing apart and thereby rendering it useless is somehow not a bad thing. Do they re-use the pile of junk they have created? Or is it quietly sent to landfill but with a superior and lofty attitude that makes it OK?

I'm all for repairability, however I can't help but be reminded of this quote:

“He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.”

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