From smartphones and tablets to our first wearable item, we’ve cracked open a lot of tech this year. And as we do at the end of each year, it’s time to take a look back — this time with a twist. During this special episode of Cracking Open, I’m counting down my top five most annoying teardowns of 2013.
The No. 5 spot on our list goes to Apple’s 2013 MacBook Air. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great laptop. I use one on a daily basis.
But its special pentalobe screws make the case difficult to open, and even once you’re inside there’s really not much you can do. Most of the components are soldered to the motherboard.
View the full 2013 MacBook Air teardown video.
4. Apple iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C
At No. 4 is another Apple creation — actually two of them. The iPhone 5S and 5C aren’t much more difficult to crack open than their predecessors, but thanks to their external pentalobe screws, variety of internal screw sizes, and all the components that are glued to the case, these iPhones are still a pain to repair.
3. Apple iPad Air
Coming in at No. 3 is the last Apple device on our list — the iPad Air. As with previous iPads, the front panel is glued to the
tablet‘s metal body. And you’ll need to heat the panel to open the case. Even after separating the panel and case, you can’t remove it without first removing the display. Throw in that the battery and most other internal components are glued in place, and this tablet definitely isn’t repair-friendly.
Google Glass Explorer Edition
The second spot on our list goes to the first wearable device we’ve cracked open — the Google Glass Explorer Edition. The camera and eyepiece assembly’s cover came off relatively easily. But despite my prying, poking, even heating the main and rear modules, nothing worked. And since I didn’t want to destroy the device, I had to give up only halfway into the teardown.
1. Microsoft Surface 2
Well, we’ve reached the end of our list. And standing above all the others is the king of annoying 2013 teardowns — the Microsoft Surface 2. Now unlike the Google Glass, I was actually able to dissect the Surface 2. But it was a miserable 2-hour ordeal. Why?
For starters, the front-panel adhesive is incredibly strong. And heating the front panel is difficult as some of the tablet’s internal components and external trim pieces are made from plastic, which will warp if overheated. I know. I did it.
There are also more than 60 screws inside the case, of all different sizes. The battery is glued in place. And most of the motherboard connectors are extremely fragile and easily broken.
The Surface 2 is definitely an improvement over last year’s model when it comes to hardware specifications and performance. But it is the most difficult-to-crack-open tablet I’ve ever worked open.
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