Prepare for thicker devices


U.S. President Biden has directed the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to begin drafting new right to repair rules, according to Bloomberg. Should be interesting to see how this affects (or not) the size of our beloved tech.

Comments (20)

20 responses to “Prepare for thicker devices”

  1. jimchamplin

    I’m totally fine with this. I don’t need things to be hyper-thin. I need them to be hyper-reliable, though.

  2. codymesh

    It's entirely possible to design thin devices that are also repairable. Sustainability is important as is reducing e-waste, something both developing and developed nations will benefit from.

    Also, so if devices are thicker, so what? we're well past the point of the millimeter wars

  3. anoldamigauser

    There is no reason for aesthetics to get in the way of function, but the drive to ever thinner devices has done that. They can not be easily repaired. Often, they cannot be upgraded, as the RAM is soldered and the drives inaccessible and glued in. Heat is the enemy of reliability with electronics. More volume would make it easier to cool.

    This does not mean they need to become huge or heavier; just a bit more volume, a few more screws in lieu of glue, access to items that people might want to change. If I could easily access the battery, RAM and hard-drive, I would be happy. For phones, access to the battery would be enough.

    • bkkcanuck

      'Access to the battery' would completely change the device (not a small change)... and it depends on how you define 'access'. A battery can be replaced by anyone that knows a bit about repairing the devices - so that is not a big problem (also I believe Apple does that directly for a fixed price that is reasonable for the battery). Ensuring the device is still water resistant after the fact, a little more than that. I m fine with the way it is now, I just support that anyone that feels they are qualified - or any independent repair person... should have access to what is needed to repair the devices (a continuation of the theory behind the Magnuson-Moss Act. When a device is out of warranty, if you can find someone to repair a corroded solder point with or without a damaged chip - it should be supported... (Apple does not need to be the one doing it or any of their authorized repair places) by 3rd parties.... Fixing that would maybe cost $100USD by an electrician... or $700+ by Apple (who would replace the board)... or it could save a device that is on the obsolete list... (Apple will not repair those).

      • Usman

        The Galaxy S5 had a battery cover and was IP67 water-resistant

        • bkkcanuck

          I would say it was more 'splash-proof' rather than 'water resistant' (fresh water only). There were multiple reports of general failure when submerged. Fresh water by it's very definition excludes any sink with soap, toilets, swimming pools and sea water. (lots of loopholes). The seals actually degraded. A typical battery in a phone these days will last on average maybe 4 years. One battery replacement at that 4 year mark takes it to 8 years (at the cost of the battery, service included). My battery on larger devices lasts more than a day... and there are still some battery improvements in the pipeline which will make it even better going forward.

      • anoldamigauser

        Glad that the current situation is fine with you. I would prefer to be able to upgrade or service things myself. Different strokes for different folks, as they say.

        If Apple would make a phone with a removable back, I would buy it in a heartbeat, but again, that is me.

        • bkkcanuck

          It is just simply -- what are my priorities. When it comes down to it, it is a choice between replaceable battery and sealed with water resistance... I am still remembering my days pre-smart phone (but when I needed to have a Nokia cell phone for work). I literally went through 2 phones in 2 days (so my third phone), The company provided the first, then I had to replace two on successive days (on the road as a consultant - I needed to have one)...

          • Greg Green

            I’m not so concerned with battery replacement as I haven’t had that become an issue yet, but ram and hard drive/ssd access are a must.

            my wife’s recent very nice hp requires pulling off the adhesive rubber feet pads to get to the extra screws that they hid there. I’ll wait till she complains before I do that and then try to glue them back in place while trying to limit misplaced stickiness.

            her older aio is wonderful in its toollessness. A couple of slides in the back and the whole panel lifts off and I’m looking at everything.

  4. harmjr

    I think of Surface Pro devices and how they started off with replaceable hard drives. HP and Dell came along with their clones. The HP and Dell versions when they first came out - I don't know about today versions - came with tear down manuals. You could repair several parts. Hard drive, fans and batteries. So it can be done. Its just better for companies to make you buy a new device.

    Some parts should be repairable/replaceable imo.

  5. bkkcanuck


    Most right to repair activists are NOT pushing for a change in design to the devices... just that the company must make board schematics available to thos that independently repair things like that (Apple will just replace half the device - not actually repair). What they want is to be able to actually repair the device - which may be replacing surface mounted chips on the board. In many cases Apple has put into place agreements that the manufacturer of the part not sell those parts to shops that may use them to repair a device (even if not really Apple specific IP). As far as I am concerned, all component parts should be made available for independent repair to fix devices that otherwise would have to be replaced. If Apple wants to restrict / audit components so that the repair shop has a limited replacement parts on hand and have to provide the serial numbers of devices fixed with those parts before new replacement parts are made available... fine.

    This 'the devices will all get thicker' is scare tactics that have no basis in fact.

    • red.radar

      Part of the reason for the exclusivity agreements is to simplify the supply chain and protect it. Every part siphoned off to repair efforts is one part not avaible to build a product for sale. When the Demand is so high that can cause problems with customer satisfication. Look at the people pissed just waiting for GPUs and Computer components.

      That being said, I still think having parts available to repair is a priority and this something that needs managed. Just pointing out their could be a valid reason for the agreement.

      • wright_is

        This will change. France already dictates that the manufacturer provide spare parts for electronics for at least 10 years.

      • bkkcanuck

        You seriously that the devices are all falling apart and that the few parts that are required... are going to seriously affect supply chain. The cost of an individual component can be easily priced to make sure that they are not affordable for other purposes other than repair as well.

  6. wright_is

    Thüringen in Germany is paying citizens up to 100€ a year premium if they get their old devices repaired.

  7. Paul Thurrott

    That's a rather odd way to position positive news.

  8. bkkcanuck

    The proposed legislation that has been put forward - has nothing to do with mandating / micromanaging design decisions.

  9. red.radar

    I think it will be great. Phones are too thin anyways. And they are so fragile i have spend money to wrap them in cases for protection. And in some designs i have to "case" them just so they can be held comfortably.

    Lets go back to a durable and functional designs that are sustainable and repairable.

    I would spend 1000 dollars on a cellphone if it meant i could keep it for 10 years and be able to repair it for that long.

  10. jimchamplin


    THICC phones.

    Not really, repairable doesn't mean thicker, but let's be logical about this, is thin really good? THICC means big batteries that you can pop out and swap. THICC means notebooks with upgradable RAM and storage. THICC means reliability. So it's not a bad thing. Don't be scared. THICC devices with THICC bezels that you can run much longer than skinny devices.

    Repairable devices don't actually mean that things get heavier, but who cares if it does? THICC is good. Embrace the THICCness and enjoy non-modern garbo devices. Imagine having a computer that's almost 2" thick that has room for drives and RAM and... COOLING!! Modern CPU design with beyond-adequate cooling? Wow. THICC.

    THICC to win. Thin to lose.

    Please read this with a mind toward entertainment. The points being made are real but I'm not gonna knock anyone for wanting a light little book.