Apple’s new smartphone looks like the iPhone 13, and almost struggles to make you want it. And yet in its heart it hides a profound change, an essential asset. It has been completely redesigned to be more repairable.
Expensive, externally unchanged, with a recycled processor from the iPhone 13 Pro, the iPhone 14 looks like a second-chance smartphone, which does not necessarily attract and lacks a bit of appeal, or in any case novelties . And yet, the entry level of the new iPhone has an advantage on which Apple has not communicated and which is not obvious: its interior has been completely redesigned.
So what ? Well these deep tweaks make it much easier to fix, says iFixIt, which has uncovered this little hidden secret.
The change seems so positive and important that the site specializing in the repair of electronic devices writes: “if you’re thinking of buying a new iPhone, and you want an iPhone that lasts”it is “The iPhone You Should Buy”…
First of all, the iPhone 14 opens from the front – by removing the screen, as often – but also from the back, like the iPhone 4 in its time, in order to make a “magnificent butterfly”laughs iFixIt.
However, you can imagine if opening a smartphone by the screen makes it easier to change the panel, opening a smartphone from the back gives faster access to other components, such as the battery for example. Simply put, accessing the innards of an iPhone from both sides makes it much easier to repair.
To achieve this masterstroke, Apple had to review the entire design of the structure, including that of the antennas and seals.
A short lesson in the history of smartphone repair
iFixIt takes the opportunity to give a little comparative history lesson between the iPhone and the Galaxy, from Samsung. As a general rule, a smartphone is disassembled from one side and then it must be completely disassembled to reach the opposite side. Thus, since the S6, the Galaxy open from the back, with a glued back. It is therefore easy to change the back, but very difficult to change the screen. In any case, more than on an iPhone. Because Apple seems to have thought so far the design of its iPhone to make life easier for its repairers when they have to change the two most frequently damaged elements: the front screen and the battery.
Until the iPhone 8, the back of the iPhone was not really an issue for repairers… But when Apple introduced the glass back and wireless charging, things got complicated. “If replacing the screen of a Galaxy smartphone is hard, changing the glass back of an iPhone X (or 11, or 12 or 13) is hell”, thus writes iFixIt. To give you an idea, so far to replace the back of a recent iPhone, the easiest part was to extract all the components. Yes, take out all the elements of the device to change its back. Why ? Because the adhesive that holds the back of the device is so strong that techniques involving heating it or using chemicals, such as solvents, were ineffective. The simplest approach is “to use a laser to systematically spray the adhesive before spraying the glass” with different more or less dangerous tools. Too easy, we warned you…
The iPhone 14: the big change
With the iPhone 14, Apple engineers have therefore completely revised their way of doing things and the assembly of the smartphone. The glass back is now held in place by two screws and a connector. There’s still some glue, but it seems much weaker, so it’s easier to peel off the back of the iPhone.
Better still, removing these same two screws also allows you to remove… the screen. ” Unbelievable. »enthuses the repairers of iFixIt, who already see themselves being able to return home earlier to spend time with their families.
And these two screws also make it possible to avoid having to use glue, a common trick in electronics, which makes it possible to gain in finesse, to the detriment of the ease of repair. “We’ve been saying for a long time that designers could get the design and all the features they want, along with repairability, if they just made a little extra effort to avoid glue. Well, this time Apple made the effort. », writes iFixIt, gratefully. Especially since the effort did not stop there, the engineers of the American giant made sure to replace certain welds with new systems to avoid electromagnetic interference.
Behind the screen, there is a structure on which the internal components are mounted. Not only does it play this role of support, but it is also what will give the iPhone its rigidity and allow it to absorb shocks in the event of a fall.
Another point of improvement. For a long time, Apple has integrated a lot of components into the display-related assembly. Thus, the Face ID sensor, the speaker and the ambient light sensor were part of the lot. And when a user changed the screen, everything had to be changed. With the iPhone 13 Pro, Apple had moved the speaker used for phone calls and the front camera from the screen to the main structure. It was obviously only a first step, which prepared the big change that we are witnessing with the iPhone 14.
The most repairable iPhone
“This is the biggest design change to the iPhone since the X.”says iFixIt. “It’s hard to downplay the significance of this change. For comparison, Samsung has not changed the architecture of its smartphones since 2015.puts the specialty site into perspective.
Thanks to this effort, the iPhone 14 obtains a repairability score of 7 out of 10. This had not happened since the iPhone 7. “This is the most repairable iPhone in years”, concludes the repair specialist – while waiting to see what the 14 Plus, 14 Pro and Pro Max models give. Now that this mystery is lifted, another question arises, why Apple did not talk about it, he who regularly highlights his ecological efforts and makes it a commercial argument, rightly so? Is it because there was already a lot to say? Is it because Tim Cook’s teams plan to talk about it later? Or is it simply the lot of shadow workers, those who get things done without being talked about?