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The Microsoft Surface Duo is a pain to repair

The Surface Duo is a mess of components. (Image source: iFixit)
The Surface Duo is a mess of components. (Image source: iFixit)
The Surface Duo may have spent a long time in development, but that did not make the dual-display smartphone any more repairable than other Surface products. The displays and glass panels can be removed without taking apart any other components, but that is about as good as it gets for the Surface Duo.

Last year, Microsoft made a point of having improved the repairability of the Surface Laptop with the third-generation model. iFixit has revealed that ethos has not carried over to the Surface Duo. The same applied to the Surface Pro X, which iFixit awarded a 6 out of 10 for repairability. On the contrary, the Surface Duo is about as repairable as most other Surface products like the Surface Pro 7.

To Microsoft's credit, it supposedly began developing the Surface Duo before the likes of the Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro X. Development timeframes have not stopped iFixit from awarding the Surface Duo a 2 for repairability. iFixit emphasises that disassembling Microsoft's first smartphone in 5 years is not all bad, though.

A look at the inside of the Surface Duo. (Image source: iFixit)
A look at the inside of the Surface Duo. (Image source: iFixit)

On the one hand, both glass panels can be removed without having to disassemble any other components, which is a plus should you shatter the glass panels or displays of your Surface Duo. On the other hand, the Surface Duo has a surprisingly simple hinge mechanism, unlike those that Motorola and Samsung have developed for their foldable smartphones.

However, Microsoft has soldered the device's USB Type-C port to the mainboard and has glued both batteries to its chassis. These two decisions make it extremely difficult for Microsoft and authorised repair shops to repair the Surface Duo, let alone consumers. iFixit notes that the OLED panels are difficult to take off too, despite being crucial to remove for accessing many internal components. Overall, the Surface Duo is one of the most challenging and complex Android devices to disassemble. Hopefully, Microsoft has pivoted towards making the next model more repairable, if one ever comes to market.


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Alex Alderson, 2020-09-15 (Update: 2020-09-15)