Samsung's brand new Samsung Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10e have now gotten an official teardown from iFixit but the news isn't necessarily great with both handsets managing an even lower score than last year's flagship models. While the Galaxy S9 family of devices scored a four out of ten — with ten representing the easiest devices to fix — the newest entries in Samsung's lineup only scored a paltry three out of ten.
The sole redeeming factor in either of the handsets' repairability rating is the fact that a Phillips screwdriver is all that's required for removing or replacing fasteners, as opposed to the specialty fasteners used on some smartphones.
Samsung made things more difficult this time around by soldering the charging port to the main board, in spite of keeping most components replaceable. Screen and battery replacements or repairs, as highlighted by the 15-step process in both these and older Samsung handsets, still involve working through loads of adhesive. For the latter component, the company also hasn't incorporated any way for the battery to be easily dislodged such as pull tabs — making the battery exceptionally difficult to remove from its metal housing.
Where Samsung has improved repairability
A comparatively worse score for the new mobile devices doesn't necessarily mean that Samsung hasn't made any improvements at all on that front. To begin with, although both new Galaxy S-branded handsets feature entirely different fingerprint technology, there are no longer any ribbon cables attached to the rear panel in either. That makes pulling off the back glass plate slightly less tedious, with less risk a cable will be damaged to either the under-display or side-mounted sensor while lifting that off after heating up the adhesive.
The adhesive holding the glass panels in place seems less aggressive this time too, making the task less difficult — even if there is still a high risk of breaking the panels by proxy. That's the case on both the respectively flat-faced or curved Samsung Galaxy S10e or Galaxy S10.
Removing the display panels is also made less daunting by the use of Gorilla Glass 6 in the company's latest gadgets.
None of that really offsets the underlying difficulty in repairing the Samsung Galaxy S10 or Galaxy S10e though since there are still a substantial number of pieces that need to be removed to repair any given component. The device needs to be nearly torn down completely, for example, to replace either the battery, the buttons, the display panel, or the side-mounted fingerprint reader on the smaller device.
No shocker here
The steadily declining repairability rating of Samsung's flagships doesn't really come as a surprise since — although the company has worked to make more components replaceable — Android handsets, in general, have become more complex. Setting aside improvements in performance, narrowed bezels, and better displays, consumers are almost constantly looking for better water resistance and more features.
That all means that there are more components are being added to the gadgets over time, reducing free space inside of devices, gaps in the construction, and adding to the list of measures taken to keep everything running smoothly and safely. The Samsung Galaxy S10 flagships highlight that fact by the inclusion of extra cooling mechanisms to account for reverse wireless charging and fast charging — which already increase the number of components found inside.