The New HTC One Doubles Repair Score, Still Flunks the Test

Just shy of a year after the release of HTC’s “One” flagship smartphone, the lovingly-named HTC One (M8) is out, and “all new.” So what happened to the least repairable smartphone after a year of design improvements and refinement?

Say hello to the second-least-repairable smartphone we’ve laid our hands on. The M8 is easier to pull out of its rear case, with screws replacing some of the adhesive and clips from last year. So now it’s merely difficult—instead of nearly impossible—to disassemble the phone without destroying it. Once opened, the same demerits are present in the second generation: the battery is still layered beneath the motherboard, which is still layered beneath a year’s supply of tape, and removing and replacing the display still requires tunneling through the entire phone.

A year later, and we’ve fully doubled the HTC One’s repairability score, from 1 to 2. At this rate, HTC will have the phone perfected when the HTC One (M16) comes out. That will be a killer phone.

Unscrewing the display on the HTC One teardown

Teardown highlights:

• Screws! Glorious screws! After a bit of heat and prying, we found the missing link to make this unibody design more repairable. Whenever we see gobs of adhesive and tough clips replaced with screws, we know we’re in for a (slightly) happier time.

• HTC touted the all-new One’s exceptional battery management, with up to 2 weeks of standby from a 100% charge, and 15 hours on 5%. Much of this comes from low-power sensors and clever software, plus a 2600 mAh battery—up 300 mAh from last year.

• Double the cameras, double the flash—despite being dubbed the One, this phone likes its twos. The extra rear camera captures depth information, enabling a host of trick features like ex post facto focus adjustments and background removal.

• With the entire front of the phone gone, we can finally get to display removal. We’ve gotten accustomed to Apple’s display-out-first iPhone assembly—which greatly simplifies display repairs—so we’re not sure why some manufacturers insist on burying both the screen and the battery. At least make one easy to replace!

• Liberal heat around the edges of the glass and we’re able to slide an opening pick around the perimeter…a little too easily. In fact, we discovered the exact wrong place to slice and dice, severing the digitizer cable.

Chips ‘n’ dips:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core 2.3 GHz CPU
  • Elpida FA164A2PM 2 GB RAM
  • SanDisk SDIN8DE4 32 GB NAND flash memory
  • STMicroelectronics 0100 AA 9058401 MYS
  • Qualcomm PM8941 and PM8841 power management ICs
  • Avago ACPM-7600 power amplifier module
  • Synaptics S3528A touchscreen controller
  • Qualcomm WTR1625L RF transceiver
  • NXP 44701 NFC controller
  • Qualcomm QFE1550 dynamic antenna matching tuner