Microsoft's Surface is a little easier to repair than the third-generation iPad, according to iFixit, but it's still pretty difficult to take apart.
iFixit had to remove 17 T5 Torx screws and a lone ribbon cable to take off the rear case and battery.
The site rated the Surface's "reparability" a four on a scale of one to 10 (with 10 being the easiest), following its teardown of the product. By comparison, the iPad has a rating of two, and the Amazon Kindle Fire rates eight. According to iFixit:
The Microsoft Surface is a quirky cat. Microsoft engineers clearly took a different internal design direction than what we've seen in the iPad and the Nexus/Kindles. But, sadly, its overall fixability is closer to the near-impossible-to-open iPad than it is to the spudger-friendly Android tablets.
iFixit noted that the Surface's design allows it to be opened without fear of shattering the display glass. Also, several components are modular and replaceable without requiring de-soldering, and the battery can be removed pretty easily.
However, it's quite difficult to remove the rear panel and gain access to the device, iFixit said, and it's impossible to remove the keyboard connector without first removing the display from its frame. To get to the LCD/glass, you have to dig through the whole tablet, and the two are fused together and strongly fixed to the case. iFixit noted that a repairman would need a heat gun and "lots of patience to gain access to the glass and LCD".
The main components suppliers, meanwhile, include Nvidia for the application processor, Samsung for flash memory and the display, Micron for dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and Texas Instruments for power management. Marvell, Wolfson, Atmel and Cypress Semiconductor also provide certain chips.
Here are some highlights from iFixit's teardown:
"We encounter a tamper-evident label as soon as we start digging into the Surface. Unfortunately, it breaks apart upon removal"
"After removing a total of 17 T5 Torx screws — 10 under the kickstand and 7 under the camera cover — the rear case comes right off ... almost. A lone ribbon cable still tethers the rear case and battery to a ZIF connector on the Surface's motherboard"
"The battery ... [is] glued in, but it's way easier to remove than on the iPad"
"The 7.4V, 31.5Wh battery is manufactured by Samsung. It fits right in between the iPad 2's 25Wh battery and the iPad 3's 42.5Wh unit"
Next to the display in the front case is some mystery component that looks like a speaker. iFixit determined that it is probably a microphone or secondary speaker; "During our pre-teardown Surface shenanigans, we noticed the Touch Cover keyboard 'clicked' when we were pressing the 'keys'. We guess those sounds are routed through this device, but we welcome any input on the functionality of this doohickey"
"The 720p cameras we found inside — one for the front, one for the back — were almost identical in size and shape. The exclusion of a multi-megapixel rear-facing camera either means cost was a big concern, or that Microsoft's designers don't expect you to use the Surface as your main camera"
The device has four touchscreen controllers, which are likely what allow the Surface to decode both the user inputs from pressing on the glass and the Touch Cover accessory.