The iPhone 8 looks similar to the iPhone 7, which itself looks similar to the iPhone 6, and on down the line. In some respects, smartphone design finds itself in a state of stagnation. In an attempt to buck that trend, Apple launched an iPhone X model alongside its new iPhone 8 phones. It is a celebratory product in recognition of the iPhone's 10-year anniversary, and it a features a bit of a different design than the iPhone 8 and previous iterations. Putting it under the knife, however, reveals that not much is different in terms of do-it-yourself repairability.
Apple's highly sought-after iPhone X found itself on the operating table at iFixIt, an experienced tech surgeon that has disassembled more than a few mobile products over the past several years.
"The iPhone has come a long way in ten years—so long, in fact, that the design has cycled back a bit, and this iPhone looks more like the original than we've seen in a long time," iFixIt notes. "Except of course for that camera bump, and shiny stainless steel rim, and glass back, and Lighting connector..."
Different as it might be, there are several familiar parts, such as the pentalobe screws that Apple is so fond of using. The implementation on the iPhone X has the funky screws appearing more like pins, though they come out the same. Also familiar is the initial disassembly process, which entails heating up the adhesive, prying along the edges the phone, and using a suction cup tool to separate the top and bottom parts of the chassis.
Once inside, an interesting thing to note is that most of the real estate is occupied by a new dual-cell battery, with the logic board appearing significantly smaller than in past models. The two-part battery extends down vertically and then across horizontally, forming a bulky "L" shape. It is a 2,716 mAh capacity battery pack that Apple claims can power the iPhone X for up to 2 hours longer than the iPhone 7. Other rated battery specs include:
- Talk time (wireless): Up to 21 hours
- Internet use: Up to 12 hours
- Video playback (wireless): Up to 13 hours
- Audio playback (wireless): Up to 60 hours
- Fast Charge: Up to 50 percent charge in 30 minutes
It looks quite a bit of additional engineering went into the iPhone X, versus recycling an older design. The phone's motherboard is about 70 percent the size of the one in the iPhone 8 Plus, leaving a lot more floor space for the battery. It also features densely packed connectors and components, with iFixIt noting that "ounce for ounce, even an Apple Watch has more bare board." That is impressive.
Apple managed to do this by folding the board in half, and then soldering the two pieces together. If measured separately, the layers actually add up to 135 percent the size of the iPhone 8 Plus' logic board area. It is a feat in engineering, though it comes at the expense of repairs, which are "extremely difficult" or "near impossible" in some instances.
Like the iPhone 8 Plus, the iPhone X earned a 6 out of 10 Repairabilty Score. Display and battery repairs remain a priority, and a cracked display can be replaced without removing the biometric Face ID hardware. However, there is a lot glue, and waterproofing measures complicate some repairs. The iPhone X was also dinged for the level of difficulty in replacing the glass backside if it should break, and Apple's decision to use a cable tie on unrelated components, clumping them into complex assemblies.