Surface Pro 3 teardown results in broken screen

Surface Pro 3 teardown results in broken screen

Summary: A brand new Surface Pro 3 tablet has fallen into the hands of the iFixit repair team, and what do you think they did with it? As usual they took it apart, but what's unusual is that the engineers broke the display during disassembly, showing us the downsides of an ultra-thin device.

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(Source: iFixit)

A brand new Surface Pro 3 tablet has fallen into the hands of the iFixit repair team, and what do you think they did with it? As usual they took it apart, but what's unusual is that the engineers broke the display during disassembly, showing us the downsides of an ultra-thin device.

The Surface Pro 3 is held together with copious amounts of black sticky mastic and tape. This means that despite the fact that the tablet is kitted out with what could otherwise be a replaceable battery and mSATA flash drive, getting into the device to replace or upgrade these parts without causing mayhem and damage is unlikely given that the iFixit team — folks who spend their days opening devices — broke the screen getting into it.

(Source: iFixit)

That means the chances that you or I could make it inside this tablet are slim indeed. Now you might argue that few people bother to repair and upgrade their devices, and that's certainly true, but for people who care about such things, this is a problem.

Once inside the Surface Pro 3 the team discovered:

  • A 1.9 GHz dual core Core i5-4300U with Intel HD Graphics 4400
  • Samsung K4E8E304ED-EGCE 8 Gb (1 GB) LPDDR3 RAM chips, four in all giving 1GB of RAM
  • Marvell 88W8897 WLAN + Bluetooth 4.0 + NFC Combo Chip
  • Winbond 25X20CL1G 2M-Bit Serial Flash Memory
  • Winbond 25Q128FVPQ 128M-Bit Serial Flash Memory
  • Infineon SLB 9665 TT2.0 Security Cryptocontroller for Trusted Platform Modules
  • NXP CBTL06GP213 Six-Channel Multiplexer
  • Atmel UC256L3U 256KB Flash, 32-bit AVR Microcontroller
  • Winbond 25X40CL1G 4M-bit Serial Flash
  • Realtek ALC3264 Audio Codec
  • SK Hynix H27QEGDVEBLR 32 GB NAND Flash (four ICs for 128 GB total)
  • SK Hynix H5PS2G63JMR 32 MB DDR2 SDRAM
  • Link A Media LM87800AA SSD Controller
  • N-trig DS-P4196 Touch Controller
  • 42.2 Wh/7.6 V Lithium ion battery
  • A huge heatsink and fan assembly, which, according to iFixit, is "more akin to one found in a laptop than a tablet"
(Source: iFixit)

The iFixit team gave the Surface Pro 3 a repairability score of 1 out of 10 (a scale on which 10 represents the easiest to repair). Not only is removing the screen difficult (made harder by the fact the display assembly is made up of a fused glass panel and LCD), but the abundant use of adhesive along with non-standard connectors make disassembly fraught with risk.

"The Surface Pro 3 traded the 2's 90+ screws for some seriously hideous adhesive, and consolidated even more components into un-modular land," iFixit told ZDNet in an email.

See also:

Topics: Mobility, Microsoft, Tablets, Microsoft Surface

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61 comments
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  • Kind of makes it a $700 throwaway...

    Not sure how many people can afford that.
    jessepollard
    • Seriously?

      As if most consumers open their tablets.
      Do we agree on less than 1% of the clientele?
      TheCyberKnight
      • Anybody that replaces a battery...

        And batteries die every year or two - or get to the point they won't hold a charge for more than an hour or two.
        jessepollard
        • But then

          Apple hasn't had a problem with doing the same with their iThingys for years now.
          cHarley1200
          • Re: Apple hasn't had a problem...

            You expect that a company whose whole business is around packaging someone's hardware has the same knowledge about engineering hardware like Apple, who have been building computers for over 30 years?

            That both Apple's and Microsoft's products look "similar" and both use glue, does not make them identical.
            danbi
          • I see. So because the iFixit team didn't have the disassembly tools

            that the repair center would have, and broke it means that it is bad and repairable?

            Some people really do go to great lengths for that "negative" sound bite.

            I really do feel sad for people like jesse.
            William.Farrel
          • And you just did the opposite - try to make something better than it is :)

            Nobody has the right tools, Surface wasn't meant to be repaired.
            Probably iPads neither, but I know of many that successfully replaced broken screens on them. The disassembly tells about a thiner glass on surface and that can be the "problem".

            Skinny and light is nice but there are downsides .
            AleMartin
          • By the way iPad air received a 2 out of 10

            That is better.... but still really bad.
            AleMartin
          • hmm

            How is this even remotely on topic. As said (fully correctly) Apple's iPhone and iPad have devices where swapping the battery cannot be done by an average person.

            Your praise of Apple is noted, allthough I do believe the difference is much smaller as you make it out to be. Apple's hardware isn't magic, just the marketing.
            sjaak328
          • right

            Because nobody has ever broken an ipad screen trying to open it up.
            I'm pretty sure even ifixit has broken a few screens opening up new models.
            I notice a plastic pick was used, so not surprised it cracked the screen.
            Sample size:1
            Plastic pick: 1
            Broken screen: 1
            Plastic
            warboat
        • Absurd comment

          The quality of Apple's and the Surface Batteries indicate a much longer usable lifespan. Several articles have touched on this citing specs backed each company. Based in my personal experience, iPhone batteries are quite durable for well in excess of 2 years.
          Luke Skywalker
        • I still own an ipad2.

          Got it when they first arrived on the scene (over three years now) and the battery is still as good as it was three years ago. I have no doubt the same holds true for the surface.

          There are very few tablets on the market that will let you replace the battery. My dell venue 11 pro does, which makes you wonder about the quality of the battery :)
          sjaak328
        • Every year or two?

          Perhaps every 3-4 years on most of my devices. My mom's first gen iPad I gave her still get 8+ hours.
          Bruizer
        • The Surface batteries are better than that.

          I posted this below, and I'll post it here too.

          "The batteries on our Surface products are designed with some of the highest charge cycles for consumer electronic devices. This means that the battery can get charged daily (5 days a week) for over 4.5 years and still maintain 80% capacity."

          "IF the battery fails during the warranty period, we’ll replace the battery.
          IF the battery fails after the warranty period, you’ll call Microsoft support and arrange for the battery to be replaced. The cost will be $200 USD."

          Reddit AMA: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/26m9cu/we_are_panos_panay_and_the_surface_team_at/chsd6cs
          Walkop
          • I doubt that

            I haven't seen a battery specified to maintain 80% of the capacity for more than 1000 charging cycles. Obviously Microsoft doesn't say how deep those charging cycles would be.
            It's not that the batteries in the surface aren't as good as any other, it's just where the battery technology is.
            AleMartin
    • By that logic...

      EVERY tablet and Chromebook (that isn't made by Acer) would be a throw-away device.

      But then again, I'm not surprised.

      After all, to you, if it's Microsoft, it's gotta be bad, right?

      Goal posts only need to be moved if Microsoft's involved.
      ForeverCookie
      • Quite true.

        Lack of repair is a major expense, and creates tons of ewaste hazardous materials.
        jessepollard
        • And I don't care who creates it.

          :)
          jessepollard
      • Re: if it's Microsoft, it's gotta be bad, right?

        Nobody has such assumption.

        However, practice shows that this is often the case.

        When facts speak for themselves, even Gods remain silent.

        And Microsoft are not Gods. At least not for most of us ;-)
        danbi
        • practice ?

          And facts. Right. Of course for people such as Jesse and yourself, facts are often confused with perception due to glasses that have a certain tint...
          sjaak328