Latest Surface Devices Aren’t Any Easier to Repair Than Their Predecessors

Microsoft’s new Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2 look really hot in black. They also come with some sweet, sweet improvements in performance and other parts of the device. But are they easier to upgrade than their predecessors?

iFixit has the answer for you. As per usual, the folks at iFixit got both the new Surface Pro 6 and the Surface Laptop 2, tearing them both down. They then awarded both the devices a repairability score, which essentially indicates how easy it is to upgrade a device.

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Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6 got a repairability score of 1 out of 10, which is not any better than last year’s Surface Pro (or the Surface Pro 5, or the Surface Pro 2018, or whatever you call it — bad branding is bad). Like its predecessors, the Surface Pro 6 uses a ton of glue on the inside to keep things together, making it really difficult to take the device apart. iFixit says all repairs will require you to first remove the display assembly, which can be quite risky due to all the glue that’s holding it together. Moreover, iFixit says the new Surface Pro 6’s storage is no longer removable, unlike its predecessors — an interesting change, indeed.

As for the Surface Laptop 2, things aren’t looking any better. iFixit says the new version makes it slightly easier to take off the Alcantara-covered keyboard, but you have to break into the first internal layer to repair almost anything. Even for the Surface Connect port, you would have to take off the entire display assembly. iFixit says the battery of the device continues to be difficult to access and is “severely glued” in place, much like the original Surface Laptop 2. And the headphone jack? You have to take apart a ton of other, much bigger parts to even get access to the port. With all that considered, the Surface Laptop 2 got a repairability score of 0 out of 10, the same as the original Surface Laptop.

As I mentioned before, none of this is particularly surprising — the internals of these modern devices are incredibly cramped and there is almost nothing hardware makers can do to make things better without compromising the aesthetics of their products. And that’s a big deal in today’s age.

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Conversation 26 comments

  • djross95

    Premium Member
    18 October, 2018 - 5:55 pm

    <p>This is a complete deal-breaker for me. I will NOT buy a device that can't be easily repaired, especially when other similar devices (HP's Elite-series laptops come to mind, as do some ThinkPads) can be. No matter how good the specs and Surface brand equity are, it's just not worth it to make such a large investment (and these laptops are NOT cheap) in a device that can't easily be repaired without tearing the it apart. </p>

    • the_real_entheos

      18 October, 2018 - 6:20 pm

      <blockquote>I will add that not only are they not easily repaired, it is practically impossible. And that goes for any internal component that goes bad, making for landfill fodder. MS's repair out-of-warranty is laughably expensive. My Surface Pro (1) with a bad fan taught me never again. The Surface line, if it were to go away, would not be missed.</blockquote><blockquote><br></blockquote><blockquote><a href="#354634"><em>In reply to djross95:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p>

    • red.radar

      Premium Member
      19 October, 2018 - 8:22 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#354634">In reply to djross95:</a></em></blockquote><p>especially when there are consumable items into the device that can go bad… ie the battery </p>

  • Brazbit

    18 October, 2018 - 6:31 pm

    <p>Not really surprised. I wouldn't expect a change until there is a significant change to the outside of the device. I am a bit troubled to hear about the storage getting soldered on to the mainboard through. </p><p><br></p><p>We recently had a Surface vs SUV incident. The SUV won and the Surface was a near total write-off. The one thing to survive? The SSD. Popped that into a desktop with a spare M2 slot and was able to recover 100% of the data from the drive. having to toss the hardware sucked (literally, a vacuum was required as the display was little more than a screen protector glued to silica dust), even the touchpad was cracked. Not losing the data was a slight silver lining to an otherwise very dark cloud for that user. Plus, as a bonus, that desktop now has its own SSD. </p>

  • hrlngrv

    Premium Member
    18 October, 2018 - 9:49 pm

    <p>Who buys a tablet or ultrabooks for repairability? If you want relatively simple repairs, you buy a laptop thicker than your high school yearbook. Thinner than 3 cm usually means the OEM glued the base together and likely glued several components within the base.</p>

    • pachi

      19 October, 2018 - 12:24 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#354700">In reply to hrlngrv:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>This is simply not true. The are made this way to extort money from their customers when something goes wrong and a repair is needed. </p><p><br></p><p>I have an LG gram. One of the thinnest and maybe THE lightest laptop around and I can simply unscrew it and pop in a SSD, battery, and I think RAM and maybe WiFi in like two minutes if I so desired. </p><p><br></p><p>Don’t let these big companies convince you that it is “not possible” to design these laptops and the like with repair ability and component swapping in mind. It is very possible and they purposely go the other way. </p>

      • FalseAgent

        19 October, 2018 - 3:19 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#354719">In reply to pachi:</a></em></blockquote><p>but does LG void your warranty if you do that? and is it any easier to replace the screen? Something designed for upgradeability isn't necessarily the same as being designed for serviceability (though it does make it easier).</p>

        • skane2600

          19 October, 2018 - 1:06 pm

          <blockquote><em><a href="#354733">In reply to FalseAgent:</a></em></blockquote><p>So the defense for a lack of serviceability is a lack of upgradeability? Clearly the LG offers more value in this respect than Surface devices.</p>

    • Winner

      20 October, 2018 - 1:59 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#354700">In reply to hrlngrv:</a></em></blockquote><p>It's not just repairability, it's expandability.</p><p>I'm writing this on a seven year old laptop that has a removable battery.</p>

  • RobertJasiek

    19 October, 2018 - 1:14 am

    <p>Mehedi, do not repeat the manufacturers' lies! Of course, modern mobile devices can be built to be repaired and battery-swapped easily. Instead of glue, use a few screws and / or a click connection for the back or a part of the back. Install the battery where it can be removed first. Use port and a screw for the SSD, use a port for the WLAN module. Standardise batteries of mobile devices. (Stupid politicians not prescribing this!)</p><p>Missing battery replaceability / repairability is the number one reason why I do not buy a Surface. Microsoft shall keep its waste and starve from its own greed of astronomic repair prices.</p>

    • Tony Barrett

      19 October, 2018 - 5:44 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#354727">In reply to RobertJasiek:</a></em></blockquote><p>Indeed. It would be very easy to make these devices user repairable/upgradable, but manufacturers don't want you do do that. When you outgrow your current device, they don't want you to upgrade it, they want you to buy new. This is exactly one of the reasons these things are swimming in glue! Even if they're sent away for repair, it's like you'll just get a replacement instead, which is often quicker and cheaper for the manufacturer. We live in a disposable society – even with devices that cost this much! Crazy.</p>

  • Belralph

    19 October, 2018 - 7:14 am

    <p>I've never expected any Surface device I've purchased to be repairable. It's the nature of the form factor. I get the SP4/SP5 for work through a vendor, I get the device with the Microsoft Accidental damage warranty for less than the retail price of just the device. Problem solved. </p>

    • Nonmoi

      22 October, 2018 - 7:52 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#354760">In reply to Belralph:</a></em></blockquote><p>Except, it is not the nature of this form factor.</p><p>Look at similar tablets from HP or Lenovo, they have track records of making generations of tablet PCs of the same Surface Pro form factor much more repairable than the Microsoft product.</p>

  • Kevin Costa

    19 October, 2018 - 10:37 am

    <p>There are some mistakes in the text. </p><p>Line 7 – Surface Pro 2017</p><p>Line 15 – Surface Laptop &nbsp;̶2̶</p><p><br></p><p>But yeah, these producuts are inevitably more dificult to repair. It's expected. In the future, the only things that will be modular are the Desktop PCs and Servers, everything else will be extremely tailor made.</p>

  • 02nz

    19 October, 2018 - 11:21 am

    <p>Apple and now Microsoft have conditioned us to this kind of thing, but I don't agree that "<span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">there is almost nothing hardware makers can do to make things better without compromising the aesthetics of their products." I have a Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 that is a virtual clone of the Surface Pro, yet the screen can be removed to swap out the SSD, WLAN, and WWAN cards (but RAM is soldered and nonupgradable). It also has better connectivity (2 USB-C ports, 1 USB-A), and it got the 8th gen CPUs almost a year before Surface Pro 6. It's slightly heavier (2.7 lbs with keyboard cover, vs. 2.4 for the Surface Pro) but to me that's a very fair trade-off.</span></p>

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