Check Out the Gadget Guts of the Amazon Echo Dot

I was born to be a teacher. I get this giddy feeling inside whenever I learn something cool—and I’ll stop at nothing to share my knowledge with anyone who will listen to me. Before I started working at iFixit, I studied mathematics for education and worked as a teaching assistant in public schools. All of my teacher friends ask if I miss being in the classroom. My answer? Nope! At iFixit, I get to teach the people around the world something new every single day. If you’re familiar with iFixit, you already know that we tear down a lot of popular electronics—from Samsung and Apple gadgets, to Google products. But our teardown team can’t tackle every device. So what about all the other cool gadgets we love and use each day? Everything breaks, and tackling a repair can be daunting if you don’t know how the device goes together. Enter Gadget Guts. Each month, I’m going to open up household devices (roombas, speakers, toys, and tools)—just to show people how they tick. My hope is that when these things break, you’ll be confident enough to fix ‘em, and maybe you’ll learn something interesting about your gizmo in the process. This month, we kicked off the Gadget Guts series with the Amazon Echo Dot—a voice-controlled, Alexa-powered home assistant. While it appears to be a talking hockey puck, the Echo Dot is actually a few layers of plastic and metal—held together by four screws and a ribbon cable. The Echo Dot is easy to open for access to internal components. But unless a component is visibly damaged, it’s hard to tell...
Breaking News: Samsung Galaxy S8’s Glass Is Breakable

Breaking News: Samsung Galaxy S8’s Glass Is Breakable

Turns out, a phone wrapped in glass with curved edges and a small supporting frame might not be the best move for durability. According to emerging reports, the Galaxy S8 is surprisingly easy to break. A month before the S8 made its global debut, The Verge’s Vjeran Pavic expressed skepticism that a phone with so much glass and so little structural support might not stand up to the rigors of everyday use. “In 2017, as smartphone makers keep putting glass on both the front and back of their devices, and as screen bezels shrink dramatically smaller, I think we’ll see the preeminence (and fragility) of glass in smartphones take on a new importance,” he wrote. After we tore down the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ in April, our teardown engineers also noted that glass on the back and front meant double the opportunity for shattering. Those early assessments appear to be borne out in recent drop tests. In fact, Jason Koebler of Vice’s Motherboard called the Galaxy S8 “the most fragile phone ever made”—even with its updated Gorilla Glass. He cites the results of SquareTrade’s breakability tests, where the S8 emerged from every drop and tumble sorting a constellation of cracks on both the back and front glass. It’s the only phone to have suffered cracks on both the front and back after a 6-foot drop test, the company reports. “A screen without limits,” SquareTrade quips, “except one: sidewalks.” Of course, drop tests aren’t a perfect assessment of durability. And it’s worth noting that the S8 performed better in other durability tests. In CNET‘s and Everything Apple Pro‘s drop...
Here’s to All the Fixer Moms

Here’s to All the Fixer Moms

Yesterday, iFixit team member Kay Kay Clapp shared a few memories about growing up with a bad-ass Fixer Mom. Caroline Clapp was the matriarch of the Clapp family—and if there was a broken dishwasher or a hole in the drywall, she rolled up her sleeves and tackled the job herself. Along the way, she taught her daughter to value independence and to take pride in doing things herself. Tinkering often starts when we’re young. And for many, our parents and grandparents are the ones that first stoke up our interest in repair. They teach us to keep our fingers out of the path of a hammer, how to avoid stripping screws, how to use a drill. And while the role of household fixer is usually associated with men—there’s more women than you might think that take up the mantle of resident repairer. When something falls apart—from a sink to a bike to a sweater—they’re the ones that put it back together again. We asked a few team members at iFixit to share their memories of growing up in a household with a Fixer Mom. Here’s a few of their stories: Sewing Machine Repairwoman from Rose Russo, New Business Development for Dozuki Rose, as a baby, with her mother. My mom, Kui Mui Wu, immigrated to the US on her own in the 60s, with nothing more than clothes she made herself and a Singer sewing machine. She was a single parent most of my life and earned a living at a garment factory near Chinatown in New York City. She worked long hours and, when I got out of...
Fixing with Mom: A Mother’s Day Tribute

Fixing with Mom: A Mother’s Day Tribute

When I was a kid, my mom pretty much ran the household. My dad worked a ton—so my two older brothers and I leaned on Mom for a lot. She did all the traditional mom stuff: helped us with homework, drove us to school, prepared three daily meals. And she did stuff moms don’t get a lot of credit for: she fixed busted appliances, re-floored the house, built me a bamboo canopy, and sewed me way too many fuzzy costumes: Pikachu, an ewok, Star Fox. (I can’t tell you how many needles were broken in sacrifice to my cosplay addiction.) Mom’s always been the family matriarch. After her family fell on hard times in the Philippines, she left everything behind and immigrated to the United States solo. She was only 19. She won a few scholarships to put herself through nursing school and earned extra income wrapping gifts at Mervyn’s. (To this day, she still gives me crap about my horrible wrapping folds.) She sent every spare penny she could back home to her family and then—slowly, but surely—brought her parents, brother, and three sisters to the States. (They all lived with us, too.) Genetics—they get you every time. That’s Mom on the left when she was about my age, and that’s me on the right. With 10 mouths to feed, Mom became an expert in resourcefulness. Leftovers were made into next-day omelets. Old bottles became vases. When something broke around the house, she fixed it. She even fixed our neighbor’s stuff, too. When I was 6, she taught me and the kid next door how to sew patches...
Sweden Opens Mall Just for Recycled and Repaired Goods

Sweden Opens Mall Just for Recycled and Repaired Goods

Sweden is stepping up its recycling game. A Swedish municipality recently opened up what could be the world’s very first shopping mall dedicated to recycled, reused, and repaired goods. The new mall, ReTuna Recycling Galleria, is in the city of Eskilstuna, Sweden. And it’s a one-stop-shop for sustainable products. The mall boasts over a dozen different stores focusing on everything from reused household goods to refurbished electronics—as well a restaurant, educational center, conference center, and an exhibition. Here’s where Eskilstuna’s upcycled shopping mall separates itself from a brick-and-mortar Etsy or a souped-up swap-meet: The Recycling Galleria also has a recycling depot incorporated right into the mall. Customers can drop off unwanted household goods for recycling. Staff from the municipality sorts the donations, and redistributes what can be reused, upcycled, and repaired to different stores in the mall. What can’t be reused by the stores are sent off to a local recycling center for further reuse. Photo from ReTuna Anna Bergström, center manager ReTuna Recycling Galleria, describes the experience like this: (Note: This quote was machine-translated from Swedish to English by Google, so I cleaned it up to make it more readable.) “Our idea is that the customer comes here and leaves, for example, some furniture and clothing they got tired of or have no use for anymore. Then you take a lap at the mall. Maybe you find a new jacket and a new frame for that photograph of your grandfather. Then you eat an organic lunch in our restaurant and gather strength to go for another lap around the mall where you find new flowers for the garden...
6 Years of Samsung Galaxy S Teardowns

6 Years of Samsung Galaxy S Teardowns

In case you missed it, Samsung released its newest flagship phone last week. The hotly-anticipated Galaxy S8 is Samsung’s first major phone release since the Note7’s battery exploded right in their face. Naturally, we already took apart the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+. And with those teardowns behind us, we thought we’d take a moment to remember all the Galaxy S series teardowns of times gone by. We haven’t been taking apart Android phones quite as long as we have iPhones. In fact, we didn’t tear down our first Galaxy phone until 2011, when Samsung released the Galaxy S 4G. That phone scored a mid-pack 6/10 for repairability (10 being the easiest to repair), though the next iteration of the phone—the SIII—jumped to a more impressive 8/10 for repairability. Among the SIII’s merits: a user-replaceable battery, an easy-to-open design, and non-proprietary fasteners (in fact, there were just 12 screws in the whole phone—all of them Phillips). Since then, Galaxy phones have gotten a little … well, stickier. The Galaxy S line has moved from screws to glues and shifted to a battery that isn’t user replaceable. Recent models also have glass on the front and back—for double the crackability. Earlier this month, we scored the S8 and S8+ phones at 4/10 for repair, partially because the liberal use of adhesive makes it hard for your average DIYer to open the phone’s outer case. It’s still pretty straightforward to remove and replace the entire display assembly once you get past the glue—but it’s gonna be an expensive fix because of the fancy OLED panel. So, if you’ve got the...