According to popular electronics repair site iFixit, Apple's new iPod touch is rather difficult to repair. Their breakdown of the device showed that many components are now connected to one ribbon cable which (along with most other hardware) is soldered directly to the logic board.
iFixit is a popular web destination for people who are comfortable manually repairing their iDevice. Apple isn't the most repair-friendly company in the world, and bringing in your defective iPhone or iPod touch will often result in your walking home with a brand new replacement.
That isn't a problem if your issue is covered by warranty, but if it isn't, or if your warranty is expired, it can be a less expensive affair to simply replace the defective components yourself.
But iFixit reveals that this may not be such a simple matter anymore – at least, not for Apple's newest iPod touch. In a breakdown of the device, iFixit revealed a number of manufacturing traits which will make the device a very difficult repair job. To start, the volume buttons, microphone, LED flash, and power button are all connected to the same ribbon cable. This means replacingany one of these components would require replacement of the entire cable assembly.
iPod touch logic board and microphone cable (picture by iFixit)
But that cable, along with the Lightning connector and headphone jack are not disconnectable. Instead, they are soldered directly to the logic board. Therefore, for example, a defective power button could only be repaired by replacing the entire logic board. The logic board in a previous generation iPod touch can generally be purchased upwards of a hundred dollars.
There are software based remedies for some woes, such as a broken home button, which can be replaced with a gesture based equivalent for jailbroken devices. But other components, such as the Lightning connector, cannot be fixed without a hardware replacement. Obviously, this means that a lot of people will just end up getting replacement devices, rather than going through the risky and expensive process of completely replacing the logic board.
The integrated nature of the iPod touch’s components shows the streamlined and unified product design that Apple is largely moving towards. In March of this year, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application by Apple, detailing a method for creating a seamless product housing. A device manufactured with this process would look like a unified piece of technology, without seams or cracks to show that it was ever made of separate parts.
The new iPod touch, which iFixit granted a 3/10 reparability score (10 being the easiest) makes one wonder whether the internals of future Apple products will not be much the same – seamless, integrated, inseparable. And finally, unrepairable.