Microsoft Surface Duo teardown: an engineering marvel that’s a chore to repair

I don’t think anyone expected an impressively thin gadget with two displays to be more repairable than single-screen smartphones, and iFixits teardown of Microsoft’s new Surface Duo confirms this is the case. The takeaway is that while the displays and rear glass can be swapped without too much stress, replacing anything else will be a tedious, risky process.

As part of the teardown process, iFixit got this very cool X-ray shot of the Surface Duo. The innards of the left half look close enough to an iPad or any modern tablet, but iFixit says the right side “looks like nothing we remember seeing before — it’s almost a solid wall of circuit board, with a little window in the middle for the second battery.” There’s that engineering know-how of the Surface team.

Image: iFixit

But getting inside the thing is a chore. Like most other phone makers, Microsoft has used a ton of adhesive to seal the Surface Duo, and iFixit warns there are a number of fragile cables and connectors that could be damaged if you don’t go about things in just the right way. Even then, there are no guarantees.

Replacing the dual-battery system requires a near-complete disassembly of the whole device. As our review says, the Surface Duo’s battery life isn’t a concern out of the box. But after a year of heavy multitasking use, your $1,400 productivity machine might not have the same stamina. Microsoft does offer its “Microsoft Complete” extended warranty for Duo, which might not be a bad idea considering the risk factor of trying to fix it yourself.

iFixit’s teardown reveals that the two OLED screens are manufactured by LG Display. You’ll also get a close look at the “simple” hinge mechanism that’s one of the most impressive aspects of Microsoft’s latest hardware.

Image: iFixit

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