Apple iPhone 14 Teardown Reveals Surprisingly High Right-To-Repair Score

Apple iPhone 14 with its bottom cover lifted up exposing the internal hardware.
Apple isn't exactly known for designing and molding hardware gadgets that are easy to crack open and repair at home. To the Cupertino company's credit, however, it has made relatively recent efforts in line with the right-to-repair movement that's been gaining steam, and that's on full display in a teardown analysis of its base iPhone 14 model that launched earlier this month.

You wouldn't know it just by looking at the iPhone 14. At a glance, the physical design looks similar to the previous generation iPhone 13. However, the folks at iFixIt say Apple retooled the interior layout for what amounts to "the most significant design change to the iPhone in a long time."

"Apple didn’t mention the secret redesign in their keynote. If reviewers had disassembled the phone, they would have discovered this: The iPhone 14 opens from the front and the back. This is the iPhone 14 reborn as a beautiful butterfly—a midframe in the middle, accessible screen on the left, and removable rear glass on the right," iFixIt states in its teardown analysis.

While this may sound simple, the site says it's actually no small feat, as the implementation of a new metal frame necessitated a complete overhaul of the internal layout. Apple had to rethink certain parts of the design, such as the RF and ingress protection perimeter.

"Apple has gone back to the drawing board and reworked the iPhone’s internals to make repair easier. It’s an upgrade so seamless that the best tech reviewers in the world didn’t notice," iFixIt says.

The reason this matters is because every previous iPhone has presented frustrating challenges to repairing or replacing certain components, like the battery and charging port. This has varied by model—for the iPhone X, iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and iPhone 13, opening the back glass has been "murder" because of the strong adhesive holding it down.

Apple iPhone 14 opened up with each half (front and back) in separate hands.
That's not the case (pun intended) with the iPhone 14.

"Apple has seemingly used a slightly less aggressive adhesive, making opening it up a tad easier than screens of yore. And as a bonus, removing the exact same screws as the back glass gets you access to the screen. Just two screws, and both screen and back glass are immediately accessible. Incredible," iFixIt states.

The site deems this a "dramatic rethinking" of the iPhone's design, and says it's the "most substantial iPhone redesign of the X." That's high praise. What it all amounts to is a 7 out of 10 Repairability score, which is the highest mark the site has awarded an iPhone.

Of course, it wasn't all peaches and praise. The site called out Apple for reports that it's still requiring activation of the back glass after installation. The logic board can be stubborn to remove from the midframe. Overall, however, it's a stark departure from past efforts. It's also limited to the base iPhone 14 model—the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are still a bear to repair.

Images courtesy of iFixIt