Amazon Fire HDX Is Least Repairable Kindle to Date: iFixit

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2013-10-17 Print this article Print

Amazon unveiled its third-generation of Kindle Fire tablets Sept. 25. The 7- and 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX tablets feature twice the memory and three times the processing power of their predecessors and include a brand-new, and potentially distinguishing feature: a Mayday Button that users can push, free of charge and 24/7, if they have questions about the tablet. The Fire HDX also stands out for its starting price—$229 for the 7-inch, 16GB, WiF-only model. (The least-expensive fourth-generation Apple iPad starts at $499—or does at least until Oct. 22, when Apple plans to show off its newest iPads.) While the Fire HDX outdoes its Kindle predecessors on nearly every spec, it underperforms each of them when it comes the ability for Kindle owners to have a cracked display or a lame battery replaced. Following a teardown, the team at repair site iFixit gave the Fire HDX, on a "repairability" scale of 1 to 10, just a 3—"the lowest score for any Kindle we've ever taken apart," iFixit reported. Blame the battery, which Amazon aggressively glued in and placed beneath the motherboard and other delicate bits. "What was that?" wrote iFixit. "The sound of the HDX's repairability score free-falling into the abyss." (Teardown photos are courtesy of iFixit.)

  • Amazon Fire HDX Is Least Repairable Kindle to Date: iFixit

    By Michelle Maisto
    0-Amazon Fire HDX Is Least Repairable Kindle to Date: iFixit
  • The Kindle Fire HDX Is Amazon's Holiday Entry

    Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire HDX Sept. 25 and will begin shipping it Oct. 18. The HDX will soon have plenty of additional competition, with Apple set to introduce new iPads Oct. 22, Microsoft to begin shipping the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 the same day, and Google expected to introduce a new Nexus 10 well before either of those events.
    1-The Kindle Fire HDX Is Amazon's Holiday Entry
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HDX: Handle With Care

    The Kindle Fire HDX starts at $229, offers up to 17 hours of battery life, has twice the memory and three times the processing power of earlier Kindle Fires, and is the only tablet on the market with a Mayday Button—free, 24/7 assistance. (You can see the rep, but he or she can't see you.) It's also distinct, however, in being the hardest Amazon tablet to fix, according to iFixit.
    2-Amazon Kindle Fire HDX: Handle With Care
  • Cracking the Case of the Fire HDX

    In earlier Fire models, the rear panel was simply a piece of plastic. In the HDX, however, it holds all of the peripherals. It also wraps around the entire device, making it tricky to get in. Eventually, though, the iFixit folks did, calling it "significantly harder than cracking open a book."
    3-Cracking the Case of the Fire HDX
  • 'Restraining a Teddy Bear With a Muzzle'

    iFixit pulled out the power button and micro-USB port cable, and then the volume buttons, microphones and headphone jack—which it was pleased to see were all separate pieces and so easily replaceable. A little later, it came up on this Antenna cable. "It is connected, screwed and taped three times in place," the team wrote. "This seems a little bit like restraining a teddy bear with a muzzle."
    4-'Restraining a Teddy Bear With a Muzzle'
  • A Final Farewell to the Motherboard

    The iFixit team lifts out the motherboard here but complains, "Can it ever return home?" The only way to get the LCD and digitizer cables reseated is to remove the midframe from the display assembly. "To make matter worse," they added, "the battery connects via sprint contacts beneath the motherboard," adding to the cost of a battery replacement.
    5-A Final Farewell to the Motherboard
  • Too Late for the Mayday Button

    The 4500 mAh battery is glued to the plastic midframe with so much adhesive, it took the force of four nylon spudgers to remove it. The team worried at this point that forcing off the battery might snap the glass or the LCD in half.
    6-Too Late for the Mayday Button
  • No Shortage of Adhesive

    More adhesive is on display here, as the team lifts the midframe. After wondering whether it was possible to replace the motherboard once the midframe was removed, the team decided that while the midframe came out easily enough, putting it back would means lots of new adhesive, making it difficult to replace.
    7-No Shortage of Adhesive
  • Repairability Score

    With its teardown complete, iFixit gave the Fire HDX a score of just 3 out of 10, citing the glue around the battery, the need to remove the motherboard to replace the battery, the difficulty of replacing the motherboard, and the likelihood of having to also replace the LCD, should the front glass get cracked.
    8-Repairability Score
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HDX

    Amazon has made clear that it makes its money when people use its tablets, not when they buy them. The Fire HDX's starting price of $229 is essentially what it costs to build it. (Apple's least-expensive iPad starts at $499.) Could the low starting price affect public perception of the tablets and make people less inclined to repair them?
    9-Amazon Kindle Fire HDX

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