Allow me to take a Covid-19 detour, just for now, to talk about something different. It is important once in a while to hibernate and temporally escape from escorting low spirits of the pandemic.
The challenge for today’s smartphone inventors and engineers is to cram so many components in sleek designs. A good high-end smartphone must be in the etymology of the late Steve Jobs, the culmination of art and technology. It not only about technology; it is also about the philosophy of beauty.
A modern smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy S20 must pack the following inside the 6.9 inch display: 5G complex antennas, a large 5,000mAh battery, more than three back cameras, one or two selfie cameras, the main board populated with so much electronics and a separate USB-C board.
These components are hidden underneath a glass back panel that is a shiny as the display and hide the densely populated components inside.
Because the back is glass panel, it is held to the body of the phone with very strong glue and not screws. The battery is also held in position by tough adhesives.
Just what is wrong with that? It not only about beauty and functionality; there are times when something is going to go wrong with the smartphone and some expert has to open it up and effect repairs.
Take the Samsung Galaxy S20 foe example, the repair man, authorized or not authorised need to rip off the back glass panel to reveal the naked electronics. And it is a hustle. A lot of heat must be applied to dissolve the strong glue. Other specialists use strong chemicals to dissolve the adhesive.
All I am trying to say is that either way, it almost impossible to open the phone without breaking part of the back glass panel. It is a mountain to climb just to replace the battery as it is held to the phone’s body with ‘devilish’ glue.
The overpopulation of components inside the phone means that the technician has to remove a lot of parts to get to the malfunctioning one. That is a lot of work that requires precision. This might also mean that the repair man can end up causing more serious problems in trying to sort out a small glitch.
According to an American phone repair company, iFixit, the new launched Samsung Galaxy S20 is 30% repairable. This means that in a scale of one to ten, this smartphone scores only three in ease of repair.
As more components get jam-packed in a thousand dollar price tag smartphones, the level of repair-ability drops significantly.