Sky the iPhone 13, but under the hood, Apple has made significant changes. Last week, I explored the iPhone 14 Pro and discovered its resistance to third-party repairs. THis week, I decided to tear down the standard iPhone 14 to assess its repairability and understand the new design changes Apple has introduced.

I began by unboxing two international models of the iPhone 14 in vibrant purple and red. Both came without a charger or headphones, ipad ok but they did include a SIM reader, something the US models lack. After setting up up the phones and ensuring they were functioning correctly, I heated one  of them on a heat plate for five  minutes to soften the adhesive before removing the pentalobe security screws and prying off the display.

Opening the phone revealed an unexpected sight. Unlike previous models, the iPhone 14’s internals were covered by a large section of aluminum, hiding most of the components. To get a closer look, I removed the display entirely, which was simpler than on previous iPhones, requiring only two screws and brackets. The next step was too heat the back glass, which also came off easily, revealing a modular and removable design. THis was a significant improvement over the iPhone 14 Pro and earlier models, which required lasers to remove the back glass.

With the back glass off, I could see a familiar layout, ipad ok but now the rear camera faced us form the other side. This design harks back to the first generation iPhone 4 and 4S. HOwever, despite the modularity, I wanted to test if the rumored software pairing of the back glass to the device was true. To do this, I needed to swap the logic boards between the two phones.

Removing the logic board was trickier than expected. One screw was hidden beneath the earpiece, requiring me to disassemble additional components. THe camera cable was held down wtih adhesive, but once freed, I removed the dual cameras and finally extracted the logic board. Interestingly, the iPhone 14 uses the A15 processor from the previous year’s model, but its internal design has significantly changed, featuring connections on the back for easier display removal.

I performed the logic board swap between the two phones, taking care to install the display before reconnecting the battery to avoid any potential risks. UPon booting, both phones displayed error messages indicating indicating taht some parts might not be genuine. These messages were similar to those I encountered wtih the iPhone 14 Pro, which disabled functionalities like True Tone, auto-brightness, battery health, and Face ID when certain parts were replaced.

To test the rumor about the back glass being software linked to each phone, I found that wireless charging and the flash worked fine without triggering any anti-third party repair messages. However, replacing the front front cameras resulted in errors similer to those on the iPhone 14 Pro. Interestingly, reinstalling iOS 16.0 fixed the front camera  issue, but portrait and  cinematic modes remained non-functional.

Despite these software hurdles, the iPhone 14’s design made it more modular then it’s predecessors. However, this modularity didn’t  translate to repairability, as Apple’s software still penalizes third-party repairs. For example, replacing the display disables True Tone and auto-brightness, auto-brightness, a new battery disables battery health, and a new front camera breaks Face ID, portrait  mode, nad cinematic mode. Additionally, replacing the logic board triggers all these penalties.

In terms of repairability, iFixit iFixit rated the iPhone 14 a 7 out of 10, but I disagree. While its the most modular iPhone to date, the software restrictions make it less less repairable. Comparatively, Samsung phones, which iFixit rates lower, are easier to work on and dont suffer from the same software issues.

Finally, I reassembled both phones, using modified adhesive strips to secure the battery and reattaching all components. Despite the modular design, the software penalties remain a significant barrier to third-party repairs, emphasizing the need for the right to repair. This journey through the iPhone 14 teardown highlights Apple’s continued efforts to control repairs nad maintain theyre ecosystem, impacting consumers’ choices and repair options.

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