Surface Pro Is Most Unrepairable Tablet to Date: iFixit
Microsoft Surface Pro
The Microsoft Surface Pro went on sale Feb. 9, trailing months behind its less-robust and more-criticized—though easier to repair—sister device, the Surface RT. Packing a PC-like experience into its lightweight frame, the Surface Pro starts at $899.
The iFixit teardown team encountered an incredible amount of adhesive keeping the screen in place—"No, that sticky black stuff is not tar, although it is unbelievably close in function, appearance and smell," they wrote—as well as 90 screws inside the device. While proponents of fasteners over glue, the iFixit folks called the number "a tad crazy."
Surface Pro buyers can choose between 64GB and 128GB options. Tearing down the former, however, the iFixit team said the figures aren't all they appear. "PSA: The Windows 8 operating system chows down a fair chunk of the 64GB total storage," the team members wrote. "After negating 30+ GB for the operating system, the full MS Office suite that you may not have even activated, as well as the factory restore image, the Surface Pro provides users with around 29 GB of usable space."
The teardown team was fans of the twin tiny fans cooling the Surface Pro. They jested, "I mustache you to keep thinking while eyebrows the interwebs."
Sum of Its Parts
In conclusion, the team was happy to find the battery not soldered to the motherboard, and the solid-state drive (SSD) removable (though far from easy to access). The bad news was that the display assembly is "extremely difficult" to remove and replace, that tons of adhesive hold everything—the battery included—in place, and that unless the opening procedure is performed perfectly, chances are excellent that one of the four cables surrounding the display perimeter will be sheared.
Taking the back cover off the Surface RT meant removing 17 screws—10 under the kickstand and 7 under the camera—which seemed a lot at the time of the October 2012 teardown.
Surface RT Battery
Rather than shaking their fists, as they did at the Pro, in the RT the iFixit team found the battery to be glued down but still fairly easy to remove. "Way easier" than on the iPad, they added.
Both the Surface Pro and RT feature front and back 720p cameras, suggesting that Microsoft expects users to video chat and shoot video but not use the Surface as their main camera. "Perhaps they, too, realized how goofy you might look when taking pictures with a tablet," iFixit suggested.
Apple iPad 4
iFixit gave the Apple iPad 4 a repairability score of 2 out of 10. "Gobs, gobs and gobs of adhesive hold everything in place, including the prone-to-start-a-fire-if-punctured battery," wrote iFixit. This compress-like tool helps to heat the adhesive, making it easier to lift the screen.
Apple iPad 4
As on the iPad 2 and 3, Apple glued the iPad 4's front panel to the rest of the device. Its liquid crystal display (LCD) is also very likely to shatter during disassembly, and the front panel's connector can't be accessed until the LCD is removed. And still, the iPad 4, iFixit found, is easier to repair than the Microsoft Surface Pro.