The Surface Duo is here and that can only mean one thing: iFixit tore it down. Foldable devices like the Surface Duo have generally received pretty poor repair values from the iFixit staff. So can the Surface Duo be the device that turns it around for good? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is “No, it can’t.”
In fact, the Surface Duo appears to be a very difficult device to repair, especially when it comes to general repairs like replacing the battery or swapping out the charging port. You might think iFixit breaking down was a problem all the way down, and you’d be pretty right – after taking the time to marvel at the overall thinness of the device (and pointing out that there were a number of software issues with the Surface Duo gives here at this early stage), iFixit found that back access was essentially a no-go as the Surface Duo’s dual batteries stuck to it.
Access is from the front of the device. Once the phone’s two displays are detached, iFixit will notice that the Surface Duo main battery is stuck behind the motherboard and held in place by three-point screws. So taking it out is a tedious task actually. By removing the motherboard and batteries, iFixit gets a glimpse of the Surface Duo silicon, which includes a Snapdragon 855 under 6GB SK-Hynix DRAM, Microsoft’s X904163 display driver, and Qualcomm’s SDR8150 LTE transceiver.
Once all of the hardware has been removed from the device, let’s take a closer look at the hinge. According to iFixit, it’s a “pretty simple” design that resembles the hinge on a 360-degree laptop, but it’s clear that Microsoft has spent a long time perfecting it. In the end, iFixit says the Surface Duo is “refined simplicity” and even a “bold, formidable idea,” but that doesn’t mean it will be easy to fix.
In fact, the Surface Duo gets a repair score of just 2 out of 10, which it shares with other notable folding devices like the original Galaxy Fold, the Galaxy Z Flip, and the Huawei Mate X. The Surface Duo gained points for displays and back covers, which are relatively easy to replace, but lost points for how inaccessible their batteries are. The fact that the USB-C port is soldered to the motherboard, the abundance of three-point screws, and the fact that the OLED displays can be easily damaged when disassembled didn’t help either. Be sure to check out iFixit’s full outline of the Surface Duo because like everything this website does, it’s well worth reading.