Now that's what I call a sticky situation: Repairability fiends open up Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, find the remains of Shergar
Samsung sticks firm to policy of glueing the hell out its phones
iFixit has published the long-awaited results of its Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G teardown. And what did the amateur gadget surgeons find?
Poking its innards like a Crimean War medic, did iFixit stumble upon the Holy Grail nestled behind the accelerometer? When looking through their magnifying glass, did they see the meaning of life precisely etched upon a circuit board? Or did they just find a ridiculous amount of glue?
Yeah, you guessed it. The processed remains of Shergar clog up the S20 Ultra 5G, with both the display and battery fixed firmly in place by lots and lots of adhesive.
That's troubling as those are the two components users are most likely to replace. Batteries fail. Screens crack – even if you're using one of those rugged Otterbox protectors that make your once-svelte phone look like a Panasonic Toughbook on doughnuts.
Adding insult to injury, Samsung has also glued the backplate in place. This means that if you want to do any work on your phone's internals, you've got to delicately melt the adhesive first – which lengthens and complicates the repair process.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra did win points for its use of standard Phillips screws, as well as modular components which are easily removed. However, that wasn't enough for Samsung to earn anything above a dismal repairability score of three out of ten.
By and large, phones tend to be designed in a way that supports overall repairability. That's because they're subject to more wear, tear and abuse in a way that laptops simply aren't.
iFixit's teardowns tend to support that thesis. Both the OnePlus 7T and Huawei Mate 30 Pro won scores of five – which is respectable. The iPhone 11 Pro Max won a score of six – which is surprising, given Apple's relatively newfound love of affixing components to the logic board with solder.
Samsung is a bit of an aberration when taking a long view across the industry, which largely tolerates third-party repairs. The Note 10+ teardown matched the S20 Ultra 5G's equally dire score of three, while last year's Galaxy Fold somehow scored even worse, at two.
I'm sure it's just a coincidence that Samsung has its own mobile repair programmes. And while it hasn't published repair costs on its website for the latest models, it does charge £219 for a simple Galaxy S9 screen replacement*.
Just a happy coincidence. ®
* Although, in fairness, that comes with a replacement battery.