HTC Surround iFixit Teardown Reveals a Nexus One Do-Over

An iFixit teardown found the Windows Phone 7-running HTC Surround to be incredibly similar to the Nexus One. Plus, its "internal storage" is a hidden microSDHC card.

When the team at repair site iFixit decided to tear down the HTC Surround, they thought they were doing "something completely different." What they found, instead, was a whole lot of Nexus One d??«j??í vu.

HTC made the Nexus One smartphone for Google, and seemingly was so pleased with its handiwork that it decided to repeat it.

"Five of the major chip packages on the Surround's motherboard are identical to the Nexus One, and the sixth (Samsung NAND + SDRAM) appears to be just a revised chip found in Uncle Nexus," Miroslav Djuric, iFixit's director of technical communication, wrote in a press note.

Calling it a "very solid, capable phone that will undoubtedly please its users," Djuric nonetheless added, "Still, we're a bit underwhelmed that HTC chose to put year-old hardware in it, especially since dual-core phones are coming right around the corner."

The HTC Surround was among the five smartphones that Microsoft, amid much media hubbub, introduced with its Windows Phone 7 operating system on Oct. 11, 2010. Exclusive to the AT&T network, the Surround is billed by HTC as the "ultimate multimedia device." It features a slide-out speaker wall, integrated kickstand, a customizable equalizer, Dolby Mobile and the sound driver SRS WOW HD, for a serious audio and video experience.

iFixit also found that Surround uses two microphones, in conjunction with an Audience A1026 voice processor, to cancel out background noise during phone calls-just like the Nexus One does.

And again harkening back to the original Google phone, iFixit found that the Surround's motherboard interconnect cable is "sandwiched between the many layers of the upper motherboard," a design that requires less space for connectors and sockets, and that the motherboards are attached with "a large ribbon cable spanning the gap between them."

Included on the motherboard are a Qualcomm multi-band UMTS/EGPRS transceiver integrated with GPS; a 1GHz Snapdragon processor; 5MB of NAND Flash and 512MB of SDRAM memory from Samsung; a Skyworks power amplifier; and Qualcomm ICs for power management. All of this, says iFixit, is identical to or newer versions of chips found on the Nexus One.

Other details of note that the team came across are that the slider mechanism on the phone's speaker grille is downright hefty, so should keep doing its job for years to come. And that metal plates with "strategically placed holes" are soldered to the front of the phone's two speakers to enhance their quality, by directing sound out of the speaker grille instead of into the phone.

But maybe iFixit's most fun discovery of all-"and they would've gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for us meddling kids!" joked Djuric-was that the Surround's "internal storage" is actually a SanDisk microSDHC card hidden behind some silver foil and two VOID stickers warning that this is warranty-breaking territory. Still, once there, the team wrote on its site, "It definitely seems possible that you could easily swap the [16GB] card out for a higher-capacity microSDHC."

To view images of iFixit's Dell Streak teardown, click here.

In all, the team gave the Surround a "repairability" score of 5 out of 10.

"It's relatively easy to remove the rear case to replace the battery, but that's where the fun stops," wrote Djuric. "You'll have to void your warranty to take anything else out, and it's very difficult to access the front panel and LCD if you'd like to replace it."

In past teardowns, the more repair-friendly Nokia N8 smartphone and Dell Streak tablet earned scores of 8 out of 10, while the Apple MacBook Air-which, from the first proprietary screw on the exterior of the notebook, discouraged any peeking around or easy repairs-was given a 4 out of 10.