Nexus 7 Teardown Reveals Highly Repairable Device, Giant Battery
1mm difference Between iPad, Nexus 7
The Nexus 7 uses retention clips to hold the frame together; iFixit describes the process of releasing those clips as "smooth as butter." The size difference between Apple's glue and Google's clips boils down to just one millimeter. As iFixit notes:
- That's the difference in thickness between the 9.4 mm glued iPad and the 10.4 mm retaining-clipped Nexus.
- That's the difference between being able to open a device and service all of its internals, and not.
- That's the negligible difference between extending the life of your device through repair, as opposed to tossing it in a landfill.
- And most of all, nobody will complain about that one millimeter difference in day-to-day use, but the user-serviceability it brings will make all the difference when the device breaks.
The unit's overall ranking from 1-10, where 10 is the easiest to repair, is a thoroughly respectable seven -- but there's a bit more to discuss here.
What Kind of Devices Do You Want To Own?
Apple has made it increasingly difficult for enthusiasts to repair their devices going all the way back to the iPod. Customers, in return, have flocked to Apple products. This sends a message to the company -- the overwhelming majority of people don't care. As iFixit's Kyle Wiens wrote a few weeks back, however, this trend isn't a good thing for anyone long-term.
"The future of this planet," he writes, "depends on the quality of our electronic devices — and how long they last." He continues:
I dream of a sustainable technology industry that makes life-changing innovations like the iPad available to everyone on the planet. But I have a message for Jonathan Ive. I think that on top of building amazing new products, the technology industry should have three goals:The Berkeley Pit is a mine in Montana. Water in the mine is heavily saturated with heavy metals and chemicals -- sufficiently so that its pH has risen to ~2.5, equivalent to lemon juice. Water levels in the mine have been rising steadily since it was closed in 1982, to the point that they're now just 150 feet below the water table. Once the two meet, the heavily acidified Berkeley Pit water will backflow into the Silver Bow Creek -- which is the headwater of the Clark Fork river. The water is apparently so toxic, it's possible to extract copper directly from it.
- Make our innovations available to everyone on the planet, not just the richest 12 percent in America and Europe.
- Stop the devastating environmental and social impacts of hardware manufacturing.
- Depend far less on mining than we do currently. It’s not just the coltan mines fueling wars in the DRC — the Berkeley Pit disaster was so devastating that many in Montana wish they had never tapped the copper deposits. That same situation is repeating itself in parts of China and Africa right now.
That's one small example of a greater problem that involves companies far upstream of Apple and further downstream from you and I, the end consumer. It's our dollars, however, that ultimately do the talking, and Wiens argues that we, as a society, have great reason to prefer recyclable, repairable, and sustainable devices, regardless of whether you take a liberal or conservative view of such things.
His piece is worth a read, and it frames the repairability question nicely. What is an iPad, or a Kindle Fire, or a Nexus 7? Is it a device you buy, then throw away in two years when the replacement comes out -- or is it a product you expect to still be using in 3-5 years, or to have passed down to kids / grandkids / other friends? If it's the latter, then we need devices people can fix, without having to unilaterally pay a specialist top dollar.