iFixit's iPhone 5 Teardown: It's Really Fixable

With the iPhone 5 just now making it into the hands of early shoppers, iFixit has already stripped one down to its frame and found that for the first time in years Apple has designed a smartphone that's relatively easy to repair.

Apple introduced the iPhone 5 during a special media event earlier in September. Pre-order inventories quickly sold out on the first day of availability, and lines outside Apple Stores began forming days ahead of the September 21 launch.

iFixit says the iPhone 5 is relatively easy to repairiFixit says the iPhone 5 is relatively easy to repair

The new iPhone model includes a 4-inch Retina Display, LTE wireless data support, Apple's custom-designed A6 processor, the new Lightning connector instead of the familiar 30-pin dock connector, iOS 6, and more.

According to iFixit's handiwork, the iPhone 5's display can be replaced in only a couple steps -- a big improvement over the 38 it takes to remove the iPhone 4S display. While that may not do much to reduce the cost of replacing an iPhone 5 display, it will at least make the process go quicker.

"We're quite happy that the glass/display is the first thing that comes off the iPhone 5," they said. "The majority of iPhone repairs are due to a shattered front glass."

The new iPhone includes a Sony-built 1440mAh battery, Qualcomm's MDM9615M LTE chip, and 1GB SDRAM from Elpida. Apple has been reportedly distancing itself from Samsung's chips, and the RAM from Elpida helps back that up. That doesn't, however, mean that we won't see Samsung RAM in other iPhone 5 batches.

Apple stuck with pentalobe screws for the iPhone 5 which will keep casual tinkerers out of the phone's insides. While Apple wants to keep users out of the iPhone's insides, it made those tucked away components easier to replace. Many parts are screwed in instead of glued or soldered in.

The iPhone 5's chamfered edge seems to be prone to scuffs, but the metal sides held up well to iFixit's intentional abuse. They suggest a case if you're worried about keeping that fancy new edge looking new.

Overall, iFixit says the iPhone 5 is easier to repair than earlier models. For most users, however, that won't matter since they'll take their iPhone to the local Genius Bar if something goes wrong -- but that easy fixability means they probably won't have to wait as long to get a working iPhone back in their hands.