iPhone 8 Teardown: If it Cracks, Good Luck Replacing That New Glass Back

The iPhone 8 gets a lower repairability score than its predecessors.

Sep 22 2017, 11:38am

Image: iFixit

iFixit finished its live teardown of the iPhone 8 just in time to let you know more about the device's repairability before the new phone goes on sale today. The teardown suggests Apple's better have kept its promise that the new, all-glass back is extremely durable: Replacing it if it cracks won't be easy.

The iPhone 8 got a repairability score of a 6/10, which is one point less than the 7/10 the iPhone 7 got last year. The lower score is attributed mainly to that back glass, which iFixit was unable to remove without denting the back case of the phone. The team flew to Australia, where the phone is released first because of time zone differences, to tear it down ahead of its US release.

Considering that this was a teardown of a brand new device completed on a short timeframe, the difficult-to-remove back glass doesn't necessarily suggest the component won't be replaceable long-term—third party repair pros have developed tons of specialized equipment to make what were previously difficult repairs commonplace. But iFixit rarely damages iPhones during teardowns, because people break iPhones all the time, and so most components need to be easily removable for Apple's repair technicians. This new glass back, then, is a bit concerning.

The dented case of the phone. Image: iFixit

Apple, it seems, is banking on the idea that you won't break the glass at all—Apple vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives told TechCrunch Tuesday that the company designs for durability, not repairability. That is certainly one strategy, but we've yet to see an unbreakable phone, and surely people will find new and interesting ways to break that pretty new glass back.

"While the rear glass seems to be quite a bit stronger than the glass we saw on the back of the Galaxy S8, we're really not sure how Apple plans to replace it after the unintended parking lot drop test," iFixit wrote in a press release.

Besides that back glass, the teardown revealed that much of the iPhone 8's internals are similar to the iPhone 7. Opening the phone, for instance, is essentially the same as opening the iPhone 7: "Aside from the glass, the iPhone 8 felt a lot more familiar than we expected for a phone that's supposed to be a generation all in its own," iFixit wrote.

The teardown revealed a battery capable of pumping out 6.96 Wh, which is 7 percent less than the 7.45 Wh iPhone 7 battery, and 40 percent less than the Galaxy S8's 11.55 Wh battery. iOS devices usually start with pretty impressive battery life, however, usually due to optimizations in Apple's software. The teardown also gave us our first look at Apple's new wireless charging coil.

The new wireless charging coil. Image: iFixit

There isn't anything too crazy in the teardown, but considering that the $999 iPhone X is right around the corner, perhaps a less-than-thrilling teardown of what now seems to be the utilitarian model should have been expected. Check out the full teardown here.