Microsoft’s Surface is more repairable than iPad 3

By , Oct 29, 2012

The repair experts over at iFixit pried open Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet (model number 1516) and awarded the device a repairability score of four out of ten (ten is the easiest to repair), thanks to several components being modular and replaceable without requiring desoldering. Plus, the battery can be removed “pretty easily”, iFixit notes.

This is better than a score of two out of ten for the third-generation iPad with Retina display, but lower than Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which has an impressive eight out of ten repairability score. Google’s seven-inch Nexus tablet is the easiest to repair among these tablets with a nice seven out of ten score. More tidbits and teardown analysis right below…

Opening the rear panel is not for the faint-hearted, the repair experts observe, and “it is impossible to remove the keyboard connector without first removing the display from the frame”, iFixit discovered.

In order to gain access to the glass and LCD assembly, “you’ll have to use a heat gun and lots of patience” and because they’re fused together and strongly adhered to the case, you’ll have to replace the whole assembly in case the display breaks, which ups the cost of replacement.


It took iFixit about half an hour and a lot of careful prying to remove this plastic cover.

iFixit also found a tamper-evident seal which reads “Surface” and breaks apart upon removal. A Samsung-made battery is rated at 7.4 V and 31.5 Wh, which fits right in between the iPad 2′s 25 Wh battery and the iPad 3′s 42.5 Wh unit.

The big question of the day: is the battery easily removed?

Answer: Yes. It’s glued in, but it’s way easier to remove than on the iPad. A couple of minutes of spudging around, and it’s out.

The display labeled LTL106AL01-002 is supplied by Samsung.

Another tidbit:

We tried to remove the keyboard connector, but were disappointed to find it’s wedged firmly under the LCD. Replacing the connector will require either bending the magnesium frame or separating the display.

The Surface RT has a 10.6-inch ClearType HD Display with a 1,366-by-768 pixel resolution and is driven by a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor with 2GB of RAM. It also has stereo speakers and unlike Google and Amazon tablets, the Surface RT has two cameras, a 720p HD out the front and a LifeCam-branded camera out the back (it doesn’t do 1080p).

Here are the chips iFixit found on the motherboard:

• Nvidia 1.4 GHz Tegra 3 Processor
• Samsung KLMBG4GE4A 32 GB NAND Flash
• Micron 2RE22 D9QBJ 2 GB DDR3 SDRAM
• Texas Instruments TPS659110 power management IC
• Marvell 88W8797-BMP2 wireless MIMO SoC
• Wolfson 8962E low power audio codec
• Cypress Semiconductor CY8C20466A capacitive touchscreen controller

Another daughterboard with three Atmel MXT154E touchscreen controllers drives the Surface’s touchscreen.

The Surface RT also makes use of the ambient light sensor to automatically adjust screen brightness and has a couple microphones, presumably to increase the accuracy of voice recognition software.

Networking features include Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n (via two antennas) and Bluetooth 4.0. Storage capacities come in two tiers: 32 or 64 gigabytes of built-in flash storage. Ports are plentiful on each side of the device.

On the right side, there’s your ”Apple-esque” magnetic charging port, USB 2.0 and Micro-HDMI. The bottom holds magnetic connection for the Touch Cover or Type Cover and on the left are headphone jack and volume rocker.

Looks like Microsoft has done a pretty decent job designing its first tablet, don’t you think?

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  • Guest

    I suppose it would be more repairable if it’s suspected to break môre often than the New iPad…. 

    • http://twitter.com/Pitchy Pitchy

      Yes, let’s bash the Surface.

      Apple’s new way of doing things seems to be making everything nearly impossible to repair. So as far as the new iPad goes, it seems like it’s engineered to be replaced and not repaired… so it looks like Microsoft did far better here than Apple did.

  • shar

    I am starting to get more interested in the Surface!

  • Schalkb

    I suppose it would be more repairable if it’s suspected to break more often than the New iPad…. 

    • http://twitter.com/Pitchy Pitchy

      I will double reply to your double post

      Yes, let’s bash the Surface.

      Apple’s new way of doing things seems to be making everything nearly impossible to repair. So as far as the new iPad goes, it seems like it’s engineered to be replaced and not repaired… so it looks like Microsoft did far better here than Apple did.

      • Schalkb

        So, how long have you owned ANY iDevice? Did you have to repair it at all? Well I still have my 1st gen iTouch and it’s stil fine. When buying a car. Do you buy it depending on it’s repairability OR reliablity?

      • http://twitter.com/Pitchy Pitchy

        iPod 5th gen… iPod Shuffle 1st / 2nd… iPod Touch 2nd. 4th…iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S, iPad 2. cracked screen on the two iPod Touchs because of clumsy daughters. Replaced the screen on both myself. 4th gen was a complete pain in the ass because of the LCD being glued to the digitizer.

        Replaced screens on several of my friends iPhone 3 and 3GS as well as the battery on the iPhone 3. I have also doubled the ram and upgraded my hard drives in my two iMacs.

        As for my iPad, I had to send it back several times due to the light bleeding problem they had when the 2nd gen came out and I didn’t feel like I needed to attempt to repair that when it was a manufacturer defect.

        As for your car analogy… if the car had some insane design to where I couldn’t change the oil myself or rotate my tires myself… then I would definitely consider buying another car. I am not some inept dufus incapable of doing things myself. I’ve been in IT for the last 18 years, so I have learned a few things about how to fix various forms of technology.

        If it’s some sort of tech gadget… and it looks like something I would like, I will get it, because that’s just how I am. I don’t look at the reliability of it because more often than not, I usually buy things when they first come out.

      • Schalkb

        I completely understand your point on cracked screens. As for upgrading your iMacs I do suppport your argument too, but manufacturing faults are meant to be replaced by the manufacturer and not always repaired by the customer. But I agree.
        Just one last thing, I NEVER bashed the Surface, and what is the big difference in 20%? not much(2/10 vs 4/10) It doesn’t make the Surface “NOOB” repairable.

      • http://twitter.com/Pitchy Pitchy

        I agree with you, that’s why I sent my iPad back to Apple several times for the defect. Although I feel comfortable and capable of replacing the screen on the iPad.

        Most people will never open up their devices, but there’s lots of tech shops around who do repairs. And the harder it is to repair, the more it costs the consumer. A lot of places around where I live charge over $100 to repair the screen on the iTouch 4th gen… I thought that was ridiculous since the digitizer is so cheap on Amazon… and when the repair costs can hit 50% of the cost of replacing it, some people will just go out and buy a new one… and again, that’s not good for the consumer. Easy repairs will be cheap and quick. Making something harder to repair costs the consumer. A collegue at work brought me her 2009 Macbook Pro with a cracked screen. Mac Authority told her it would be $700 to repair. The screens can be bought for between $150-300 depending on where you go, so that’s a huge cost of repair minus the cost of the supplies. She decided that she didn’t want to put that much money into it, so we got her the Display Port to HDMI adapter and she is going to keep it plugged in to her TV and us a wireless keyboard or mouse. Other laptops I have replaced the screen for less than $100.

        I won’t even start on my distrust of the Geek Squad :D

      • Schalkb

        Got to feel for that person. No it’s true. Can’t aggree more.
        People should really avoid situations where their screens can crack. Especially with compact iDevices. It’s gonna cost you….

  • http://twitter.com/MCaudebec Maxim∑

    Not sure why it matters how repairable your tablet is. If its built well then it will be harder to take a part. Its not like we want to take a part our tablets everyday

    • Kurt

      i was wondering how you isheep were going to spin this one. good job haha

      • http://twitter.com/nAcolz Acolz

        You’re a sheep for following Samsung like every other Apple hater calling anyone interested in Apple a sheep. Like seriously? Faggot

      • Kurt

        you’re a sheep for saying i’m a sheep for following samsung. i don’t own any samsung devices. ill be switching to nokia next year. so, you’re the faggot. “like” seriously

      • http://twitter.com/nAcolz Acolz

        I ddn’t mean it as in you own some Samsung devices, I am saying Samsung was the first who compared everyone ho owns Apple products to a sheep and you’re doing the same. Calling someone a sheep because someone else did it too is just as bad or worse than being an Apple fanatic or as Apple haters like to say, sheep.

      • http://twitter.com/Pitchy Pitchy

        Homophobic slur on the internet. I can only assume you are a 12 year kid whose mommie pays for his X Box Live account.

      • CollegiateLad

        Kurt watches the comments to see who supports apple. If you support Apple, like a little child, he thumbs down your comments. He’ll chase you from thread to thread trying to convince you of his views. When you don’t see it his way, he calls you an isheep. I guess it’s suppose to hurt your feelings. He got pissed when he learned that Apple sold through its initial stock of iPad minis. Lol

  • M Last

    because they used cheap parts for it.

    • Kurt

      its better than the ipad and the os is better than iOS…it only needs apps. and that will come.

      • ic0dex

        When in the next 5 years?

      • http://twitter.com/Pitchy Pitchy

        It took some time for iOS to get an app store and then get quality apps. You can’t expect a massive app store out of the gate at first launch. Apps will come and they will be on par with Android / iOS.

      • ic0dex

        Yes I understand but do you want to sit and wait for everything to start from scratch again or go with what’s already developed and ready to use?

      • http://twitter.com/Pitchy Pitchy

        everything has a starting point. remember, with the iPhone, it was like a year or two after it first came out that it got an app store… and it took time for it get quality apps.

        Microsoft has a massive userbase. Developers know this and will be developing for that.

        I imagine in time, there will be some codebase that will allow you to code an app and export it to iOS, Android and Windows 8.

      • CollegiateLad

        lol

      • http://twitter.com/nAcolz Acolz

        How is the OS better? Support your opinion by some arguments. I say iOS is better, it’s more user friendly, has more apps, is supported across a very wide sphere of websites, apps, pc software etc. It works very intuitively, it’s highly customizable, everything works without any lags or any kind of problems. There’s just so much stuff that I can say to prove you wrong about your opinion.

      • BearManPig

        ” it’s highly customizable”

        for this guy changing the wallpaper makes IOS ” it’s highly customizable” LOL

        i had to jailbreak my iPhone to get that ” ihighly customizable” part….

      • http://twitter.com/nAcolz Acolz

        Yes I mean after jailbreaking. And jailbreaking is as easy as connecting your phone to your pc and clicking a few buttons.

      • BearManPig

        Thats if you dont have the newer devices and/or IOS 6.
        and even if its a few clicks away a lot of old or female people dont do it cus they’re afraid or think its too hard or dangerous to do it.

        and even if its jailbroken IOS can never reach Android or Windows 8 phone customization level.
        p.s. i LOVE windows tiles :D

      • http://twitter.com/nAcolz Acolz

        there’s customization on the tiles? My friend has Lumia 610 or something and he can’t even change the color of the tiles.
        But I do like the way it looks (kinda)

      • BearManPig

        Yes u can, go to setting in app menu and then themes.. There u can change ur theme from dark black background to light or vice versa and tile color from blue to green, red, orage etc…….

        and there are apps for it aswell.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    um the surface has already failed… fact… MS can pay for all the publicity on earth and as long as the reviews are bad with they are the lame surface will be just another failed ipad competitor…

    • http://twitter.com/Pitchy Pitchy

      How has it failed? It was just released 3 days ago… THREE DAYS! You need to wait until around Spring before you can claim that it failed. A lot of the reviews that hate it, hate Windows 8. People who enjoy Windows 8 will love Surface.

  • Thasleem

    If kindle has 8/10 why do you say google tablet (7/10) is the most repairable ?

  • CollegiateLad

    If this were Apple, they would be roasted for the resolution. See iPad mini.

  • CollegiateLad

    At least it’s good for something.

  • http://twitter.com/pranavshankar93 Pranav Shankar

    give me one good reason why people would prefer the surface RT over the iPad….if the surface runs the regular version of windows it would make sense…but as of now the surface RT cannot run x86 programs…it can only run apps from the windows store which lets be honest is full of bullshit (compare that to all the aps in the apple app store)..add to that the $500 cost…it should cost $300…so until microsoft releases(shortly) the surface with intel based processors capable of running x86 apps the surface is redundant….

  • http://twitter.com/arskka ArthurT

    Even disassembled looks like an ordinary pc iugg

    • http://twitter.com/Pitchy Pitchy

      And that’s a bad thing how? Should they glue everything together in a small neat package making it an incredible pain in the ass to replace something simple?

      • BearManPig

        +1

  • http://twitter.com/lgasparjnr laszlo gaspar

    I like the surface but windows 8 RT does not support any windows 7 apps so it’s very limited.

  • dady king

    Surface is more easy to repair that mean company already knew that it will break down .. Apple make product to live long .. So they concentrate on each and every part of product and make it more reliable .: thanks

    • http://twitter.com/Pitchy Pitchy

      If that were truly the case, then the Guinness Bar would be barren and empty… which it never ever is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/haydn.lillywhite Haydn Lillywhite

    I love my SurfaceRT very much. I should have waited for the Pro, but hey, I have enough PCs and Laptops littering my work and home life, it’s nice to have something that I don’t feel I am compelled to mess around with.