Essential Phone is a nightmare to repair, says self-repair organization

Since its unveiling in May, the Essential Phone has prided itself on its minimalism and using the best materials, which include a ceramic back and titanium parts rather than the industry-standard aluminum.

But when the phone needs to taken apart for a fix, one self-repair organization says, Essential Phone is nothing short of “a hot mess.”

IFixit, which hosts a Wikipedia-like electronic repair manual website and a store selling the tools and parts for self-repair, picked apart the Essential Phone and gave the Essential Phone a 1 out of 10 on the “repairability scale.”

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Essential Phone, created by Android founder Andy Rubin, promised a simple, timeless phone that aims to challenge other high-end smartphones such as the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy. Last month, Essential opened pre-orders via Sprint, its exclusive carrier, and began shipping its earliest orders.

IFixit reviews the repairability of all major smartphones on the market, none of which scored as low as the Essential Phone. Essential Phone’s score paled in comparison to the iPhone 7 (7/10), OnePlus 5 (7/10) and the Samsung Galaxy S8 (4/10).

The authors of the “teardown” post had to freeze the phone with an aerosol spray and use sharp tools to pry open the Essential Phone’s back display. This process cracked the front display, creating other damage during repair. In comparison, Essential’s competitor phones generally need screwdrivers or a little bit of heat to pry the backside open.

 

“Nearly invisible seams and copious adhesive means any attempt at repair is likely to inflict as much damage as it fixes,” reads the teardown post.

The San Luis Obispo-based iFixit noted other odd features in Essential’s anatomy, like the USB-C port soldered to the motherboard. With no headphone jack, the USB-C port will be subject to wearing out faster and it being soldered on makes repair extremely difficult.

Essential did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

IFixit’s scathing review extended a woeful few weeks for the Palo Alto-based Essential. Last week, Rubin apologized publicly after accidentally sharing customer data, which included driver’s license information, with other customers.

“Being a founder in an intensely competitive business means you occasionally have to eat crow,” wrote Rubin in a blog post last Wednesday. “It’s humiliating, it doesn’t taste good, and often, it’s a humbling experience. As Essential’s founder and CEO, I’m personally responsible for this error and will try my best to not repeat it.”

Photo: Essential Phones are lined up in a display. Essential, a smartphone company founded by Android creator Andy Rubin, recently began shipping pre-orders. (Courtesy Essential) 

 

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