BlackBerry Z10 is super-repairable, but you really don’t want to drop it

25 Mar 2013

Image courtesy of iFixit

Those intrepid tech repairs experts at iFixit have performed yet another smartphone dissection, this time on BlackBerry’s touchscreen Z10, which scores highly for being easy to pull apart but loses face for its risky choice of display components.

“Despite its poor reception among critics, the BlackBerry Z10 is proof that smartphones can be thin, easily repairable, and have replaceable batteries,” said iFixit CIO Miroslav Djuric. Replaceable batteries are a rare sighting among smartphones these days, but it’s a welcome feature for both the user, who can carry a spare, and the repairs experts.

The battery inside the device is also more powerful than what you’ll get inside an iPhone 5 at 1,800mAh, providing up to 10 hours of 3G talk-time (compared to eight hours on the latest Apple smartphone).

The rear casing of the Z10 is easily removed, the display simply detached, and there’s no adhesive used to hold down the motherboard – something the prying hands over at iFixit were delighted to discover. Even the 8MP rear-facing camera can be removed from the motherboard with ease.

iFixit BlackBerry Z10 teardown

Adhesive is used to hold a single assembly housing the headphone jack, power switch, ambient light sensor and earpiece speaker in place, though, and for this the Z10 was docked marks.

Where the Z10 really loses brownie points, however, is in the construction of its display. The panel is extremely thin and light because a digitiser has been applied directly to the glass, which has been fused to the LCD. This means that shattering the glass panel means you will have broken the display entirely, touchscreen capabilities and all, just as this drop test from Mashable proves.

iFixit BlackBerry Z10 teardown

BlackBerry opted not to go with smartphone favourite Gorilla Glass for its display, instead choosing Touch on Lens, which uses one glass sheet coated with a layer of indium tin oxide. This has helped achieve a super-thin display, but has not helped the phone survive a drop.

All in all, this has earned the Z10 an 8 out of 10 repairability score from the tech repairs website, which is not a score often doled out to smartphones of late. Compare that to the 7 out of 10 awarded to the iPhone 5, which is Apple’s most repairable smartphone to date.

All images courtesy of iFixit

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.