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We Flew Around the World to Watch the Annual Race to Tear Down the iPhone

"Welcome to the headquarters of the global repair movement."

by Jason Koebler
Feb 15 2018, 4:10pm

Image: Jason Koebler

The most important thing that happens when a new iPhone comes out is not the release of the phone, but the disassembly of it. Apple won’t say what’s inside a new iPhone before it’s released, so the iPhone teardown—done without permission from Apple—provides a roadmap for the life of the iPhone X: Is it repairable? Who made the components inside it? The answers to these questions shift stock markets, electronics design, and consumer experience.

Every year there’s a race to become the first to tear down the phone, with teams from around the world flying to Australia—where it’s first released—to compete to be the first to look inside the world’s most coveted new phone. Motherboard embedded with California’s iFixit, whose primary mission is to make it easier for the average person to disassemble and repair their electronics, for its iPhone X teardown.

We went inside iFixit’s office, which CEO Kyle Wiens describes as the “headquarters of the global repair movement.” It’s got a tool laboratory and a parts library full of thousands of electronics parts from popular gadgets made in the last few decades. Then we went to Sydney, Australia, as iFixit attempted to become the first team to tear down the iPhone X.