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Surface Pro 4 Scores a Terrible 2 out of 10 Repairability Score on iFixit Teardown


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This is hardly surprising news, nor is it that disappointing really. The folks at iFixit recently got their hands on the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and put it through their gauntlet of teardown tests. After dissecting the device, it scored an abysmal 2 out of 10 on their repairability scale.

For the most part, the problem is that much of the device is held together by adhesives. According to the report, the only remotely easy part to replace is the SSD. Here's a quick summary from their writeup:
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Repairability Score: 2 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair).
  • The SSD is replaceable.

  • The battery is not soldered to the motherboard, but very strong adhesive makes removal and replacement a hazardous chore.

  • Non-standard connectors make for tricky display removal.

  • The display removal procedure, while difficult, and required for any repair, is not as hard as in previous generations, due to less stubborn adhesive.

  • The display assembly consists of a fused glass panel and LCD, and is difficult to remove and replace.

  • Adhesive holds many components in place, including the display and battery.

With a device that is this tightly integrated, it's unsurprising that it scores so low on repairability. That's the wrinkle with tiny, thin, light devices. That miniaturization has a price to pay. Be sure to check out iFixit's full write up here: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Teardown
Ha ha good point! I wouldn't dare try to fix my surface.

Though I have fixed a Samsung Galaxy S2 on 3 occasions - for those who aren't familiar that's a very small, thin and plasticky smartphone. It does have a removeable back however and only some pieces of it are stuck down with glue. I replaced the screen twice (nightmare job) and also the headphone socket! Amazingly it worked again after each repair even after having a desk top full of miniature phone pieces and wondering how the hell it was ever going to work again!
It is a bit lazy. Microsoft aren't the only ones doing this. Even Apple on some of their MacBooks have poor ratings. It isn't good and I wonder sometimes about the prices they charge for these devices that seem to be designed to last only a few years. Here in Australia we, at least, get two year warranties and I always make sure I sell expensive, hard to fix devices before they run out of warranty.
Unless you work in a similar manufacturing scenario it's hard to say the constrains, remembering that these devices are thinner, and more powerful than any previous devices could have been, Macbooks included - they're designed to be thin, light fast etc etc. Thinness must come with a whole multitude of design and manufacturing problems and will require compromises in the "fix it yourself" scenario. Glue is lighter and smaller and cheaper than adding hundreds of tiny little screws or machining little clips and sockets into minute fixings and circuit boards. In my Samsung Galaxy S2 theere were several pieces stuck on with Sticky tape and glue... it was not an easy fix either, but despite me taking it apart 3 times it's still going strong, and the reason it broke (and required taking apart) was accidental rather than manufactured in. It must be 4 years old now.

The way I see it these type of devices generally do last longer than a couple of years, but people often get rid of them before that to move on to newer and upgraded products with faster processors, more RAM, better displays and even thinner, even lighter and even harder to fix. There are still gen 1 Ipads that are still being used, same with Gen 1 Surface Pro's (though they may be easier to fix as they're considerably thicker than the current generation devices and so are less space constrained...perhaps (but maybe not!). Although I still have a 5 year old Dell laptop (which would be easy to fix) it stopped being my used computer over 2 years ago due to beign outdated, slow and noisy.
I don't see this as an issue to be honest. As people said previously, if you want something that user repairable, buy a cheap laptop that's 3x as thick. I doubt the SP4 buyers are buying it for the purposes of upgrading. Even with the early Mac's having user replaceable hard drives and ram, the last set of stats I saw on how many users actually replaced either was somewhere in the region of 5% or less so it was only inconveniencing a small portion of buyers. Add the fact that you can now get external USB3 SSD's the size of a small MP3 player and the storage upgrade issue becomes a non-issue with only ram being a problem.

I see it as the price you pay for compact devices. If you're not happy, buy something bigger.