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iPhone 14 teardown: One key change makes it much easier to repair

As has become an annual custom, iFixit has done a teardown of the iPhone 14, Apple’s baseline flagship iPhone for 2022. While the iPhone 14 seems almost identical to its immediate predecessor on the surface, iFixit found one vital difference Apple hasn’t announced publicly: it’s much easier to repair.

iFixit calls it “the most significant design change to the iPhone in a long time,” for their purposes, at least.

In the new design, the bulk of the phone is in a midframe, but the frame can be opened on either side—both the front and the back. Other recent models—including the still-sold iPhone 13, iPhone 12, and iPhone SE, as well as the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max—could only be opened from the front.

In a YouTube video detailing the teardown, iFixit shows that it started with the usual approach to getting into an iPhone: carefully removing the front screen panel. But it was surprised to find a markedly different design inside, with a metal shield instead of a battery at the front, and a simple way to disconnect the screen—already, it’s a win for repairability, they claim.

But with that shield in the way, it realized the way to access the rest of the internals was not through the front but through the back—something that previously was not possible. The back was opened by more or less the same process as the front. It was there that iFixit then saw the battery and other components it usually expects when opening the front.

iFixit’s iPhone 14 teardown.

Previously, replacing the back glass was one of the most difficult and expensive iPhone repairs possible, requiring special equipment. Users without AppleCare+ who wanted Apple to make that repair would be charged $599. But now, for the first time since the iPhone 8, this particular repair is relatively easy.

iFixit also notes that the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max models have the old design without the removable glass back. So this change is unique to the regular iPhone 14—and possibly or even probably the iPhone 14 Plus that’s due to ship next month, but we’ll have to wait a few weeks to know for sure about that one.

At the end of the video, iFixit gives the iPhone 14 a 7 out of 10 repairability score—still not a perfect score, obviously, but an improvement compared to other recent iPhone models.

Listing image by iFixit

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