The iPhone 7 is Apple's first IP-rated smartphone for water and dust resistance, and the company has gone to a lot of effort to seal the delicate electronics from the environment. But the water and dust resistance comes at a price.
According to a teardown carried out by repair specialists at iFixit, Apple has taken a number of approaches to keep the iPhone 7 safe from environmental damage.
These measures include:
- Using copious amounts of adhesive between the display and the chassis of the device.
- Fitting a fine mesh over the speaker.
- Using a rubber gasket to seal the SIM card tray
- Using rubber gaskets and plugs to seal up other ingress points, such as volume control buttons and the Lightning port.
- Tight tolerances on buttons.
So, what's the downside to this? The first downside is that it hinders repairability, both in terms of the adhesives and gaskets and seals making it harder to get into the device, and the added burden of making sure that everything goes back right when reassembling the device.
"When you replace a component you'll need to make sure you get the gasket in place and that it creates a good seal," writes the iFixit team, "which tends to be an extra, finicky step."
Another issue is that gaskets and rubber seals aren't 100 percent secure, and as time goes on, they can deteriorate, especially on movable parts such as SIM card trays and volume control buttons.