We strip down the Apple iPhone 8 to its core.
Apple’s skipped its iPhone “S” update, so we skipped ahead a couple timezones. We went to Circuitwise headquarters, in Sydney, Australia, for our iPhone 8 teardown. Time to find out whether Apple’s merely playing numerical catch-up to Samsung’s Galaxy S8 line, or if glass backing and wireless charging warrant skipping ahead a grade.
MAJOR TECH SPECS
• A11 Bionic chip, with embedded M11 motion coprocessor
• 64GB or 256GB onboard storage capacity
• 4.7-inch IPS multitouch 1334x750 (326 ppi) Retina HD display
• 12MP camera with f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilization,
and 5x digital zoom
• 7MP FaceTime HD camera with f/2.2 aperture and 1080p HD
• Support for fast-charge and Qi wireless charging
• 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0, and NFC
• Features include a solid-state home “button,” with Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and a (still) IPS display, similar to the one in the iPhone 7 (but now featuring True Tone). On the back, we spy the snazzy new glass backing, with its seven-layer color finish. Apple assures us that it is reinforced with “an internal laser-welded steel and copper structure,” but time and durability tests will tell if this phone will suffer from a snap, crackle, pop—or another Bendgate.
• As we crack open the display, we are greeted by the display cable bracket, but instead of the cursed tri-point screws, we’re met by friendly Phillips #000 screws! We decouple a few cables—battery, display, and home button—and the display is free! We note a lack of gaskets on the display’s pentalobe tabs, previously seen in the iPhone 7. However, both the iPhone 7 and 8 have an IP67 water resistance rating.
• A new Lightning port bracket seems to reinforce the new peach-colored port and trap the Taptic engine. Up until now, we’ve plugged along with our Phillips screwdriver—but in removing this bracket, we encountered our first tri-point screw. We suspect the colored Lightning port could be made of a heat-transferring plastic to allow for safer fast-charging.
• We take a stab at separating the rear glass, but after a lot of heat and wetwork, we’ve instead shivved our way under the reinforcement panel. After more arduous stabbing, we get the seven-layer burrito glass sandwich off the midframe. This isn’t what we thought Apple meant when it said the glass was stronger. The process left the backing plate a bit bent.
• Repairability Score: 6 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair). The two most commonly replaced components, display and battery, remain straightforward to access with the proper knowledge and tools. Wireless charging means less strain on your Lightning port, a common point of failure. Water and dust seals complicate repair, but make the need for difficult liquid-damage repairs less likely. The battery connector sports common Phillips/JIS fasteners—but you still need up to four different driver types for many repairs. The durability of the glass back remains to be seen—but replacements are likely to be very difficult. The iPhone’s lower components, once readily removed, now lie trapped under a fussy combination of brackets and delicately folded flex cables.