Repairing a faulty or damaged gadget no longer requires a PhD in electrical engineering or a visit from your brainiac family member. Sites like iFixit provide an invaluable repository of tutorials and techniques that empower people to pick up a basic set of tools and try to repair things on their own.
After all, if your device is no longer under warranty and the only other option is to buy a replacement, what’s the harm in trying? Complexity, that’s what.
Some gadgets are simply more difficult to disassemble, repair, and reassemble than others. Whether that comes down to sleeker and slimmer devices necessitating irreparable designs for the sake of aesthetics or manufacturers intentionally making their products tough to fix so you’ll be inclined to buy a replacement is up for debate. There’s also the issue of tracking down quality replacement components, but we’ll save that discussion for another day.
In this refresh of a reader favorite, we’ll be examining 10 recent tech gadgets that are nearly impossible to repair. While I’d never want to discourage skilled DIYers and those on a mission, I’m confident in saying that most would avoid a lot of headaches by staying away from fixing these problematic products.
Nintendo 2DS XL
Category: Handheld console
Once you get past the tri-point screws holding the rear panel in place, you’ll be hit with the reality that the headphone jack and charging connector – arguably two of the system’s most-used components – are soldered to the motherboard. Should you need to replace the upper display, prep for a fight as it is glued in place and requires prying that’ll potentially crack it.
Amazon Echo Show
Category: Smart home speaker
The display is tightly adhered to the mid-frame and is difficult to remove without damaging it. Although it is a voice-powered device, the most wear-prone components (buttons and the power jack) are soldered to the mainboard, complicating replacement. Furthermore, any repair is going to require cutting through and replacing a lot of stubborn adhesive.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
The Note 8’s front and back glass may look great but it doubles the device’s crackability. The use of strong adhesive on both panels makes starting any repair a challenge. You’ll also have to dig deep and contend with even more adhesive should a battery replacement make its way to the docket.
Apple iMac 21.5" 4K (2017)
Category: All-in-one PC
As with other Apple devices, the glass and Retina display are fused together, adding to the cost of replacement. While the RAM is user replaceable, it's tucked away behind the logic board so you'll have to disassemble most of the system to get to it. Surprisingly, the CPU is modular and fully swappable.
Apple iPad (5th gen - 2017)
Adhesive galore. Glue pretty much holds everything in place and makes battery removal incredibly difficult. Foam sticky tape is used to affix the LCD to the front panel, increasing the odds that it’ll shatter during disassembly.
Microsoft Surface Book 2
Strong adhesive holds the batteries, display and base cover securely in place. Other components are located on the backs of their respective boards, thus requiring the motherboard be removed to get at them. RAM is also soldered to the board, negating the possibility of expansion down the road.
Apple MacBook Pro 13" with Touch Bar
Between proprietary pentalobe screws, a battery that’s firmly glued into the case, the fragile Touch Bar and the fact that core components (CPU, RAM and flash memory) are soldered to the logic board, there’s not much here that can be easily swapped out.
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017)
Replacing any part requires first removing the display, an easy component to damage. Liberal use of adhesive further complicates matters and the solid-state drive is no longer replaceable.
Apple MacBook (2017)
Key components like the processor, RAM and flash memory are soldered to the logic board. The Retina display is a fused unit with no protective glass, elevating potential repair costs. Oh, and there's a ton of adhesive holding the laptop's battery in place. Good luck - you'll need it.
Glue is the only external fastener used. As such, accessing any internal component is impossible without destroying the outer casing using a hobby knife. Your best bet is to simply buy a new set.