How iFixit Became the World’s Best iPhone Teardown Team

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The most important thing that happens when a new iPhone comes out is not the release of the phone, but the disassembly of it. The iPhone teardown, undertaken by third-party teams around the world, provides a roadmap for the life of the iPhone X: Is it repairable? Who made the components inside it? The answers to these questions shift stock markets, electronics design, and consumer experience.
Every year there’s a race to become the first to tear down the phone, with teams from around the world flying to Australia—where it’s first released—to compete to be the first to look inside the world’s most coveted new phone. Motherboard embedded with iFixit, a California-based company whose primary mission is to make it easier for the average person to disassemble and repair their electronics, for its iPhone X teardown.
We went inside iFixit’s office, the “headquarters of the global repair movement, which features a tool laboratory and a parts library with thousands of electronics parts and disassembly tools. Then we went to Sydney, Australia, as iFixit tried to become the first team to tear down the iPhone X.
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Caption: [music]. it's open yeah so we're about an hour . into this and we are officially into the . i usually into the phone officially into . the phone every year a new iphone is . released and every year repair focused . companies race against each other to be . the first to crack it open the teardown . has become an annual competition for . street cred with small teams flying . around the world to be the first to get . their hands on the new phone after a few . years of pestering ifix it's the most . famous teardown team they finally let me . hop on a plane to australia to go behind . the scenes of their iphone 10 teardown . [music]. we are driving up the pacific coast . highway right now to meet with kyle . weeds and the ifixit team we're gonna . hop on a plane later tonight and fly to . australia and hopefully become the first . team to tear down the iphone 10 kyle . welcomed that exit thank you . this is the headquarters of the global . repair movement so is it a storefront we . don't we don't we're not open to the . public this is just office warehouse we . believe that everyone should be able to . repair their own stuff so we don't . attempt to fix things for people we hook . them up with people in the community . that can i fix it is a free open-source . repair manual and our goal is to teach . everybody how to fix all their stuff . whether it's an iphone or a blender we . fund the staff by selling parts and. tools the parts and tools are part of . the solution and if you need them we've . got a good option tear downs are a fun . exploration their journey and. understanding and learning how something . works we're constantly taking things . apart posting online teaching people how . to open their own things and repair them . and some companies have this planned . obsolescence mentality and their . business model is built around selling . you that's gonna break soon and . we're disrupting that model as best as . we possibly can today is halloween so . it's time maybe a little bit strange . there are professional engineers in . costume this is our it here the nervous . system of ifixit we have our community . and content team folks who are actually. writing the repair manuals live over. here and then the software team that . builds website is silver on this side i . started in in the dorms i was trying to . fix my laptop and it was harder than i . thought it needed to be because there . was no service manual on the internet . and i thought this was crazy how is . there no repair information online i . know what the service made that looks. like and i can't have it and it turns . out that the reason was the apple had . sent dick down those who's to everybody . that i posted the service manual online. so they were using copyright to prevent . people from knowing how to fix their . stuff and that seemed absolutely. ridiculous and so we decided to go ahead . and. take the laptop apart again write the . repair manual just kind of out of . frustration and spite and damn you . you're not gonna you're in that care . that prevent me from knowing how to fix . my thing i'm gonna share it and it got . unexpectedly popular this is just like . the library of parts anything from like . maybe a volume button on the side or . power button to like a battery connector. or an earpiece literally you could . probably build a phone out of these . parts if you really wanted to nes zapper . so this is kent for repairing the . playstation 3 yellow laid out very much . so that was a that was a manufacturing . defect same thing with the xbox red ring . of death it made us a lot of money . because because the manufacturers screw . that usually it's it's its batteries and . glass are the most common things across . all devices while kyle prepares to go to . australia sam i fix its lead engineer is . staying in california to oversee the . teardown from i fix its home base i'm in . charge of the tegrity department so we . do all the repair guides and the. teardown set most of the internet knows . less before who cares about the teardown . like is it just people who are super . into gadgets we have such a wide . audience for these it's always like. really incredible um yeah we get ton of . people from chip manufacturers who like . want to have their chips shown because . they're under an nda and they can't say . it themselves but as soon as we publish . a photo of it then they can be like oh . look like prospective buyers like we're . in the new iphone. yeah really what we want to do is just . like show people it's not like the . monolith it's not just like this sealed. black box like you open it up and . there's a battery just like in your cart . just like in your watch just like in . anything else you guys do tear downs. here why are we running to australia for . this teardown when you have a perfectly . good studio right here it's all about . the timezone the the phone comes out at . 8 a. m. and that's just sooner in . australia so we go wherever we we can to . get it first go to the phone i mean the . internet is so real-time it's just such . a challenge to be at the forefront of . the story and. if you're if you're 12 hours behind . topher yeah so this is one side of . pacific and now it's time to go to the . other . [music]. it's 6:00 a. m. we flew halfway around . the world we're now in sydney australia . and we're on the way to the apple store . to hopefully be one of the first teams . to buy and tear down an iphone 10 tell . me that this is not a ridiculous thing. that we're doing right now it's kind of . ridiculous thing that we're doing i . don't think there's any defense i mean . that it's a big gamble right because if . the device is ship early that's it right . now we have a phone reserved at 9: . a. m. pick up . so we'll get a phone at 9:30 75% chance . we'll be a little bump things up from . 9:30 to eat there are situations people . wait lion they say well we thought we . were gonna get 10 thongs but we only got . a 5 and so we know we gave you a . reservation but you're not gonna get it . so at that point you have to turn to the . five people that got it and start . offering them stacks of cash how much . cash did you free so i'm gonna i'm gonna . go to the bank today i'll probably pull . out a few thousand australian we'll see . people waiting in line and they're like . what are you gonna do with the phone i'm . gonna take the part well you're gonna . use it first. no not even gonna turn it on we tried to . film inside the apple store but weren't . allowed to bring cameras inside the mall . [music]. all right we got the phone we got the . phone. show them the phone - i mean everybody . apple folks are also excited yes are you . excited i am excited to get going on the . teardown i'm not excited that there's a . new phone in the world firm grow our . 9:30 pre-order they were willing to let . us in and get our phone right at 8:00 . which was great and we were the second . person in line i think you got a first . though i think we probably got out of . the store before anybody else yeah going . to circuit wise which is the second . largest electronics manufacturer in. australia and it's the best place to . tear down an iphone look right son oh . that's excellent does . [music]. the first electronics factory have been . really lucky for ifixit cirque de wises . is right around the corner from the . apple store . it's also the perfect place to tear down . tech thanks to specialized equipment . such as x-ray machines and micro . stuttering stations that help the team . see into the guts of the phone. so we've just set the vibrator on inside . the machine so that we can capture a . video of the taptic engine vibrating . because there's no way you take apart . the taptic engine you can't really see . how it works it's it's it's a vibrator . inside all right well good okay so . you'll work on getting the photos up . okay great thank you okay sorry for that . delay here you go what are you doing . we're taking apart the phone now i think . in california they're wondering what the . hell we're doing had the phone for an . hour yeah look at that look how long . that is . it's been unchanged since the 4s really. when they introduced it and for some . reason the screw is about three times . longer than normal and it doesn't have . threads you can see how long that screw . is there might be another screw to the. outside of those like inside the . structure so they might be inside . somehow historically the only things . that were anywhere close to the . precision of what you see in a in an . iphone were in something like a swiss . watch and it's incredible precision . engineering but it's it's in production . volume on the scale of hundreds or maybe . thousands a year okay so how's this . coming apart this color just a very . similar procedure to the eight a little . bit of heat to soften the adhesive strip . around the display and a little bit of . suction to lift it just open up a slight . crack then there's a spiced b does it . feel like the same amount of tension is . they it's actually i think it might be . easier i just accidentally turned it on . this is not is didn't remap the power . button digit and we'll turn off the . syria's map to that button so you have . to like hold it down longer that's . always there's always an emergency light . hey that phone turned on ever since the . original iphone you know the devices . used to have an off button stop it's . open yes. so we're about an hour into this and we . are officially into the i officially . into the fish lay into the phone we had . trouble with the phone turning on and . off while we were taking apart but that . was really it was sailing we took our . time because we didn't want to damage it . in case there was something different . but there really wasn't the battery is . massive and it takes up much more of the . space of the interior this thing than . ever before to a wondering how do they . pack in a new infrared projector and get. 2 hours longer battery life is on the . iphone 8 so the logic board is much . smaller yes like how did they do that . just much smaller chips much millions . and millions of it's a new manufacturing. process it's called a stack slp process . basically i think what that boils down . to is the traces are smaller everything . is denser and it may be it may have some . additional layers in any individual chip . okay you look at it you think it's it's . just a postage stamp and there's just . one layer inside it's not maybe the . original iphone there was there were . some some rough edges around it but now . it's it's so incredibly polished i mean . it's the most thought-out design . carefully designed product in the . history of the world there's i don't . think there's any single artifact that . has ever been made that has had as much . thought in the 10 and intent that's gone . into it and it's not just the folks at . apple i mean you have folks at qualcomm . that have put in thousands of years of . effort into designing just one chip this . is a significant design change right . like this is when they say drinking the . board yeah that's a big deal i mean this . is not quite at the level that the apple . watch is but with the apple watch they . brought everything onto one chip we've . got the iphone circuit board out and . it's incredibly dense it's kind of like . actually the original iphone circuit . board where they were layered two boards . layered on top of each other so we have . to desolder them and that's tricky and . and it's almost more of an art this . particular phone is not gonna go back . together so the phone is dead wow it's . just like a cake not a cake . ya think we are ten hours into the . teardown and it's pretty much done . actually opening the iphone doesn't take . all that long but the team has to . meticulously photograph every step of. the process to document it for the . teardown this is the show right . everything else gets laid out in here so . we're gonna do our layout shot we're . gonna pack up right head back to . california and then we will put it back . together and then we'll take apart again . and use the phone to write the repairman . go for that was this a successful trip . to austria it's been very successful i . mean we uh posted teardown and see what . people think but i'm really enthusiastic . our team is a fantastic job increasingly. we're being locked out of our things. software is eating the world we're . adding microchips into everything that. we own and so in order to have a . ownership in order to understand what . ownership means in the 21st century . we're gonna have to deal with . electronics really have to deal with . these complex systems and as we've seen . the opposition's right to prepare . legislation come from so many different . industries it's not just the cell phone . manufacturers it's the tractor companies. it's the car manufacturers it's the. medical device manufacturers it's the. scientific equipment companies the . industry gets bigger and there's more. and more money and me and they're not of . things that means there's more and more . money lobbying to prevent these kind of . laws in order to fix something you have . to believe in yourself that you can do . it you have to know how to do it and . then you need the tools on the parts . [music]. [applause]. you. .

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