Previously on Lemmy:

Past Discussions:

As promised, we are talking repairability this week. I thought it’s not really possible to talk repairability without talking about it in relations to build quality.

It seems to me that over the years, the general trend is that phones have become more and more difficult to repair in general. To me, I don’t believe that this is some kind of nefarious plot designed to make people buy new phones every two years, here are some of the reasons why I think it is:

The first is the perceived build quality. It used to be that plastic is the most common type of material for the back of phones, and I would say plastic is the ideal default material for the back of phones: cheap, and versatile in hardness, color, and texture. However, the use of plastic in cheaper phones has resulted in a negative perception. Metal backs are durable but doesn’t allow for NFC signals through, and I can’t believe they settled on glass as the ideal material for the back instead, since it is actually extremely impractical to use.

The second is waterproofing. Waterproofing requirement means that glue is mandatory even with the presence of a gasket, which naturally discourages the

The third would the improvement in actual build quality. Modularity is very much still a trade-off, as if we can assume the phone cannot be easily opened, then more fragile components can be used in the phone that doesn’t have the requirement to be able to be repeatedly plugged and unplugged. One of the most important changes is the change from Micro-USB to USB-C, as the increased durability means that people won’t consider it to be a part that requires replacement as much.

I just think that what’s broken can eventually be fixed, but it’ll never feel the same afterwards.

Sorry if this is a bit messier and late this week, very interested in everybody’s thoughts on this topic. The Fairphones look interesting, but it’s not easy to get in the States.

  • alphacyberranger
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    1510 months ago

    Manufacturers should release smaller phones which can actually be put into pockets. They’ll also need to come up with a better way than to just glue down screens and batteries in place.

    • Margot RobbieOPM
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      410 months ago

      Gluing is easily automated, whereas putting in screws takes more time, and time is money on a manufacturing line.

      Also, agree on the smaller phone.

    • HidingCat
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      310 months ago

      Meanwhile, I’m still looking for a bigger phone. Huawei’s Mate 20X, Xiaomi’s Mi Max line, and Sony’s Xperia Z Ultra were all phones I thought of getting of at some point but never did, thinking that there’d be something nicer in the future.

      • Margot RobbieOPM
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        210 months ago

        Maybe the Galaxy fold, if you are OK with the price tag.

    • @dingus
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      210 months ago

      Yeah watching phones grow and grow in size over the years has been frustrating for those of us who have small pockets and liked using our phone one handed. Nowadays it seems like a phone is a two handed device and ai can’t fit any of them in my damn pants. I went with a folding phone to help with the issue, although they are still two handed phones when unfolded. Apple used to have the iPhone Mini but it seems they have done away with it for some reason.

      I’m not saying big phones should entirely go away. I’m just frustrated that we don’t have more options.

    • @cable
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      210 months ago

      Ain’t that the Asus Zenfone 10 for you?

  • AnonymousLlama
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    1010 months ago

    One thing I’m really surprised about is that the overall screen strength doesn’t seem to have improved over the last 5 years. Screens are still much better than what they were over a decade ago (where a drop without a case was pretty much a screen crack)

    But I’m finding on my Pixel 7 pro for example that I’m still finding light scratches, it feels like these screens only have a 5 or 6 on the mohz scale where you’d usually expect a 7 or beyond.

    • JWBananas
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      410 months ago

      It’s a Heisenberg tradeoff. At a certain point you can either make them more impact resistant or more scratch resistant.

      • falkerie71
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        210 months ago

        Exactly. I remember looking up information about this back when foldables are still a new thing.

        By making glass harder, it makes it more scratch resistant, but also makes it more brittle and easier to shatter on impact. By making glass softer (bendy), the glass is less likely to shatter, but is will probably have more scratches on the surface in the same time frame compared to the harder glass.

    • Margot RobbieOPM
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      410 months ago

      It’ll get better once big sapphire screens gets common for phones. I think I read somewhere that Apple is thinking about it.

    • @[email protected]
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      410 months ago

      In some ways it’s got worse, older phones had bezels that stopped a small drop from cracking the screen.

  • @[email protected]
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    10 months ago

    I really like what Framework is doing with their laptops - what we need is an equivalent in the mobile space. It’s a shame that Project Ara never took off, their original idea was great and had a pretty good public reception, but they kinda sabotaged themselves and ultimately released a very nerfed version of their original idea. It’s been seven years since it was canned and I think it’s worth revisiting - technology has progressed a lot since then.

    Also, more than repairability, I think the bigger question should be around sustainability, after all, repairability is only a small part of the sustainability equation. So in regards to that, we need to look at what we can do to make Android devices last longer. Updates is the most obvious thing - Apple is offering 6-7(?) years of updates, whereas in the Android world it’s more like 4-5, if you’re lucky. Even if updates cannot be offered for that long, there should be some sort of certification or recognition process for third-party custom ROMs such as GrapheneOS or LineageOS. The fact that custom ROMs fail to pass the Play Integrity checks is very unfair, especially for GrapheneOS, when they’re likely to be more secure and updated than stock ROMs. This is a major roadblock for people in switching to custom ROMs, and thus a roadblock in the sustainability pathway.

    At least one positive thing to look forward to is EU’s mandate for smartphones to have replaceable batteries by 2027.

    • Margot RobbieOPM
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      710 months ago

      Yeah, that replaceable battery is a great step by the EU. Still a bit worried about waterproofing.

      Also, on the subject of Ara, it’s a Google project. Best to keep your expectations low.

      • @[email protected]
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        310 months ago

        I’m 100% positive that companies could accomplish waterproofing and replaceable batteries of they wanted to. It’s been done in the past, it can be done again. But people replacing whole phones instead of just the battery is too profitable.

    • iamak
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      510 months ago

      I think a large part of why Framework laptops worked and no mobile equivalent has come up is because most of phone ecosystem is not free. When I install Lineage OS on my phone I always expect a decrease in the quality of photos because lot of the camera stuff is proprietary and baked into the OEM ROM.

      I get that the Framework equivalent of phones can manufacture their own devices and write FOSS firmware for it but it’s a big hurdle which not many can afford.

      On the contrary in laptops/PCs you can install Linux and expect most of the hardware to work out of the box. So until phone ecosystem gets as free as PC ecosystem (I doubt it will considering how the corporations work) I doubt a Framework equivalent will be available for phones.

  • Margot Robbie
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    810 months ago

    I did expect a slower thread this week, but the comment quality has been great though.

    Hi from my other account on Lemm.ee everyone!

    • Margot RobbieOPM
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      610 months ago

      It’s like looking in a mirror.

    • Margot RobbieOPM
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      410 months ago

      Yeah, it’s just a nice place to relax and talk about things.

      Don’t worry about being off topic here, I like to have the conversation flow naturally.

  • @aluminium
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    510 months ago

    Maybe its just me but I think ever since we entered the “Glass Sandwich” era its a lot easier. What I have lernt as a novice is that the screen is by far the easist thing that breaks during a repair atempt and luckily most glass sandwich phones can be opened from the back without ever touching the screen.

    Back in the day with most Metal phones you were always risiking breaking the display. And especially old HTC and Google Pixel phones are a nightmare to fix.

    • Margot RobbieOPM
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      210 months ago

      Oh yeah, that does make sense since the screen and the back are now the same hardness that they will no longer break each other.

      Still think plastic is the best material for the back though.

  • @CoriolisSTORM88
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    410 months ago

    I have repaired my old S20 Ultra screen this week. Even with all of the extra bits it’s miles ahead of the repairability of my Motorola Atrix 4G. I think it’s a huge plus being able to get OE parts through ifixit and other places nowadays. Everything in the S20 came apart really easily, and went back together quite well. There were a few glued in pieces, but the process went well for me.

    • @got2best
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      10 months ago

      Also repaired my own device with glue in parts and I don’t think glue has to be inherently bad. But I understand when it requires destroying part of the device to take off.

    • Margot RobbieOPM
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      310 months ago

      Yeah, it used to be only the dedicate repair shop can get the parts, so that part is definitely easier nowadays.

  • falkerie71
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    410 months ago

    One gripe I have with build quality. Why do people associate having glass back and metal frames with good build quality?

    Looking back, Apple touted its superior plastic quality with the iPhone 5C, and it wasn’t bad at all iirc. The Zenfone 9 and 10 have the soft touch plastic back and feels good. I had a Pixel 5 before and enjoyed using it bare without having to worry about damaging the back.

    Meanwhile, glass is prone to shatter and scratches, is more heavy and slippery, and is expensive to repair. Which means people will likely put on a case to protect their phones, which defeats the purpose of having a glass back, adds thickness and weight, and adds another layer between the wireless charger coils, and I argue creates more plastic waste.

    PLASTIC IS FINE WHEN DONE PROPERLY!

    • @dingus
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      210 months ago

      I hate the glass trend on phones too. I get why we use it for screens. But now when you accidentally drop a modern smartphone, you gave to worry about not only the display potentially shattering, but the back of the phone, too! And like you said, it makes modern phones slippery as fuck where you now need a case or skin on them in order to use them.

      I know that the glass backs are because you can’t wirelessly charge with a metal back. Can you wirelessly charge with a plastic back?

      • falkerie71
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        210 months ago

        As long as it isn’t a conductive surface that would interfere with electromagnetic induction, then yes you can wireless charge with it.
        If you want a metal back but also be able to charge wirelessly, you would need to cut a hole in the middle for the coil, like the Pixel 5 did.

  • @[email protected]
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    310 months ago

    Waterproofing requirement means that glue is mandatory even with the presence of a gasket

    Huh?

    • @neumast
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      1110 months ago

      Samsung Galaxy S5 had everything that seems impossible today already 9 years ago:

      expandable storage, USB3.0, headphone jack, swapable battery, … all while being IP67 (30 mins in 1m depth) waterproof.

      Somehow we are not able to do so anymore… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      • JWBananas
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        210 months ago

        Yes, because IP68 is the better target. Surely you remember all the water damage issues with the S5?

    • Margot RobbieOPM
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      210 months ago

      So, rubber gaskets still need to be fastened somehow, and using glue is the easiest and fastest way as opposed to using screws, tradeoff of course is repairability.

  • AlmightySnoo 🐢🇮🇱🇺🇦
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    10 months ago

    I don’t know about other repairable phones, but what I like about the Fairphone and why I’d most likely get one in the future is that it’s easy to open up, nothing is glued, you can replace even the camera and official parts are available on their store.

    What I really dislike though is the pricing, it feels expensive for what it offers; the Snapdragon 750G of the Fairphone 4 is almost 3 years old, it still ships with Android 12 and the version 13 update will only come out by this year-end.

    I mean okay, one could still install LineageOS on it and get the latest Android experience, but I just feel that like with everything else we’re always expecting the consumer to pay extra for more sustainability.

    • @[email protected]
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      210 months ago

      What I don’t like about tge Fairphone is the size. Coming from a Sony XZ1 Compact, it’s just gigantic.

      Unfortunately Fairphone just doesn’t have the economies of scale to be able to release 2 phones of different sizes.