iFixIt’s Splicing Open Of iPhone 11 Reveals More Than Just A Closer Look At New Device’s Innards

FEATURE: 10.31.19- Halloween is that time of the year to watch some horror films / slasher flicks where a deranged killer cuts open innocent people and blood and guts spill out for all its gory glory onscreen but on this particular day, the sun suspecting victim being spliced open on your own screen is that of the latest smartphone models recently released by Apple and its innards on display give an insight into the origins of the new iPhone 11 and though the device cant let out any sounds of pain, it just might invoke from you a bloodcurdling scream over one of the major revelations from the autopsy conducted.

The team over at iFixIt — a San Luis Obispo, California-based company specializing in do-it-yourself repair guides, manuals, and sales of tool kits and parts for performing self fixes — were at it once again utilizing their expertise and conducting one of the many exclusive product teardowns of the latest tech gadget released by Apple from the Cupertino, California-based company’s September media event. (Do these guys ever sleep? They must look like zombies!).

An inside look at the internal components of the new iPhone 11 courtesy of an exclusive product teardown by San Luis Obispo, California-based company iFixIt. (Photo: iFixIt)

As per usual, as soon as Apple started accepting pre-orders at 5:00 AM PDT on September 13 for the new iPhone 11 — the low end device among its spectrum of three offerings for 2019 (the other two being the iPhone 11 Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro Max)— iFixIt was quick to submit their own request in (probably one of the vampires on their staff who pulled an all nighter and came pretty close to getting caught by the rays of sunlight from the early morning dawn) so that they could get their hands on the device as soon as it shipped, or in their case, was released in-store out to the masses of eager fans due to an unexpected shipping delay probably resulting from high customer demand for the new smartphone.

According to Elise Barsch, social media manager and copywriter at iFixIt, the company initially pre-ordered their iPhone 11 models from Apple to get ahold of the devices the same way a regular consumer would but then had to visit one of their local Apple Store retail locations in order to acquire the device because the one they ordered in advance would not arrive on their doorstep on the actual release day.

“The iPhone 11 lineup was in our hands the morning of its release, Friday, 9/20, the same day we performed our teardown. We waited in line at the Apple Store here in San Luis Obispo. We tore down the iPhone 11 Pro live on YouTube literally a half hour after we brought it back to the office. Then we tore down the iPhone 11 Pro Max that same day in our live teardown. And finally, we disassembled the standard iPhone 11 on Saturday, 9/21 and wrote its mini teardown that Saturday and Sunday.”

In the teardown of the iPhone 11 — published on September 23 — Whitson Gordon, a writer at iFixIt, wrote the following:

“For the first time ever, Apple released three new iPhones all at once and our teardown team has never been busier. We focused most of our efforts on the iPhone 11 Pro Max teardown last week, but we also took a look inside the mid-sized and decidedly non-professional iPhone 11. This minty green machine may be the middle sibling in this year’s iPhone lineup but it’s no less worthy of time under the screwdriver.”

(And whatever other sharp and rusty tools they keep in their dark basement where they lock up their victims? Such as suction cup tool called an iSclack or an opening pick. Yikes!).

“The logic determining what makes a smartphone ‘pro’ is still up in the air but one thing is for sure: you don’t have to be a pro to open an iPhone these days. Ever since the iPhone 6S, the procedure for getting past an iPhone’s screen adhesive has been the same: heat, slice, repeat.”

Slice? Please excuse me while I shudder at the very thought as a shiver crawls up my spine!).

The most interesting (or decidedly spooky or scary)aspect of the new iPhone 11 as discovered through the teardown by the iFixIt team, however, is that the device may be just one of last year’s models, the iPhone XR, with bumped up specs (as if it were that pesky little kid who already appeared at your front porch once before but back for another second round to try and snag another handful of tricks or treats hoping to not be recognized for wearing the same costume).

This news makes the iPhone 11 sound a lot like the iPhone SE released in 2016, taking the shell of a previously released model and upgrading its internals for improved and faster performance but at a cheaper cost? Add to that the fact the iPhone 11 is the lowest priced model of the trio of handsets released this year, sporting an entry level price point for budget conscious iPhone users, both similar characteristics of the marketing of the iPhone SE.

I only did say in an editorial here in this column last year that Apple should have made the iPhone XR the iPhone SE 2 instead!

Although, it was revealed — to the surprise of many — earlier this week that the iPhone SE 2 finally will go into production in January of next year with a planned release date in March 2020.

Perhaps the iPhone 11 is even the originally rumored iPhone XE, a successor to the iPhone SE when it looked like the prospect of the fabled iPhone SE 2 smartphone never was going to see the light of day?

“Taking apart the iPhone 11, we found a lot of iPhone XR in its DNA, but with a year’s worth of technical advancements spliced in,” wrote Kay-Kay Clapp, director of communications at iFixIt, in an email to subscribers that publicized their iPhone 11 teardown.

“It’s an easier phone to repair than most , but we still wish Apple didn’t hem in repairs with weird screws and missing features.”

(Sounds like they’re talking about Frankenstein with his own weird screws and missing features!).

So just how repairable is the iPhone 11?

After performing a teardown of a product, iFixIt assigns a repairability score based on the following criteria:

  • 1-2: Components are soldered or glued in so that removing them damages the device altogether; significant amount of adhesive, proprietary screws, and other barriers to repair.
  • 3-4: Some important components are soldered or glued in, but many are still modular; significant amount of adhesive, proprietary screws, and other barriers to repair.
  • 5-7: Moderate amount of adhesive, proprietary screws, and other barriers to repair, but the battery and other frequently replaced parts are easily accessible.
  • 8-9: Little to no barriers to repair; parts are easily replaceable.
  • 10: Virtually no barriers to repair; parts are easily replaceable and parts and repair documentation are provided by manufacturer.

Based on the teardown report published on the iPhone 11, the device received a repairability score of 6 out of 10 from iFixIt.

There are some pros such as the prioritized display which makes replacement of that critical component easier than in other devices while there are also its cons like front and back glass doubling the chances of breakage: the rear can only be replaced with a full case swap.

“6 out of 10 may not seem like anything to write home about, but in this day and age, it’s about as good as it gets for a non-FairPhone,” wrote Gordon in the teardown.

The FairPhone, a game changing smartphone released back in 2013 — created and designed by the company of the same name based in Amsterdam, Netherlands — is the only product, specifically its second and third generation models, torn down by iFixIt to-date that has earned a perfect score of 10 out of 10 for its repairability. The FairPhone 2 and FairPhone 3 were released in 2015 and 2019, respectively.

“There are many improvements we’d like to see, but hey: it could be worse!”

(Like having to clean up the mess of body parts strewn all across the floor of your workspace after all of the splicing and dicing is done…? Happy Halloween!).

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