The iPhone SE 2020 is a relatively easy-to-repair mobile device, revealed a complete disassembly of the latest iPhone model, with simple replacements of basic components and cross compatibility with versions of the iPhone 8, making the smartphone the dream of a repair shop.
The Taptic Engine can be easily removed and switched (via iFixit)
A first teardown report on Sunday hinted at how easy it was to fix the new iPhone SE, since the components, including the Taptic engine, camera, SIM tray and screen assembly, were exchangeable with the versions used in the iPhone 8. In a complete disassembly, Apple’s design decision to use existing modules led to a device that is relatively easy to repair with repair equipment.
Monday’s iFixit teardown begins with an x-ray of the device alongside the iPhone 8, and shows that there are relatively few immediate differences between the models. Aside from some changes to the antenna and the movement of the chips on the motherboard, it’s hard to tell the difference from this single image.
Open using a familiar heat and cupping procedure on the screen and back cover, the inspection reiterates Sunday’s findings for some components, but also highlights similarities for others. The battery of the iPhone SE, for example, uses a different connector but ultimately has the same capacity as the iPhone 8 version at 6.96 Wh.
A closer inspection of the camera indicates that the iPhone SE is in the process of reusing the version included in the iPhone 8, with further testing revealing that the component is interchangeable between models. The iPhone SE camera is estimated to benefit from the image processing capabilities of the A13 bionic system on a chip.
IPhone SE 2020, disassembled (via iFixit)
On one side of the logic board is Apple’s A13 bionic SoC based on 3 GB of Samsung memory, an Intel modem, Skyworks power amplifier modules and a low-band PAMiD, a medium / high band Avago PAMid and an integrated Cypress USB power supply circuit. The other side has Toshiba flash storage, an Apple-designed power management IC, Wi-Fi USI and Bluetooth SoC, a Broadcom touch controller and other unidentified audio chips.
Although the display of the iPhone SE lacks 3D Touch, the screen is largely identical to the iPhone 8 version, including relatively similar thicknesses, although the most recent component lacks a layer of capacitors. and a control chip on the back. The screens are also fully interchangeable, but adding the screen of the iPhone 8 to an iPhone SE will not activate 3D Touch.
Summarizing the teardown experience, iFixit is “rather pleased that Apple Frankensteined this phone with parts from previous models”, in the belief that the replacement parts should be easier to refine. Reusing existing production lines will also produce “less waste overall”, which will contribute to the environment.
The iPhone SE for 2020 achieved a “repairability” score of 6 out of 10, with the use of interchangeable and independently replaceable components, as well as simple screen and battery repairs, in its favor. While points have been moored for IP67 seals complicating the repair process and Apple’s use of four different device drivers, the fragile back of the device is the biggest problem, deemed “impractical to replace”.