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The Essential Phone earns one of iFixit’s worst repairability ratings

The Essential Phone earns one of iFixit’s worst repairability ratings


‘A hot mess’

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Cynthia Gil

Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone has finally shipped to customers after half a summer’s worth of delays, and that means the teardown experts of iFixit have now had a chance to rip apart the slick slab of titanium and ceramic. The verdict? iFixit gives the Essential Phone a 1 out of 10 on its “repairability” scale, placing it in the company of some of the website’s worst offenders. That score pales in comparison to the iPhone 7 (7), Google Pixel XL (7), or even the Samsung Galaxy S8 (4). Or, in the words of the email that iFixit sent out promoting the teardown post, the phone is “a hot mess.”

The Essential Phone was always meant to be a jewel of a device, something that stands at least a few steps away from the iPhones and Samsungs of the world because of its premium fit, finish, and design. But all that meant extra trouble for getting the phone open. After finding basically nothing was accessible by entering the back of the phone, iFixit had to freeze and crack the screen to access its components. “Any attempt at repair is likely to inflict as much damage as it fixes,” the team writes, noting that overuse of adhesives made it difficult to even get inside.

A couple other interesting bits:

  • The earpiece speaker on the top of the phone is part of the same module as the selfie camera
  • All the identifying marks (like the FCC label) that are usually found on the back of a phone are instead hidden on a small tag that lives under the SIM tray
  • The USB-C port is soldered to the motherboard, which means it will be harder to fix or replace

It already seemed that, despite its titanium and ceramic build, the nearly full-screen Essential Phone would be a risky buy for clumsy smartphone owners. Learning how tough it could be to repair is only going to fuel that paranoia. If you own one already, or have one on the way, it’s worth reading through the full iFixit report — and maybe buying a third-party case in the meantime.