Surface Pro 3 receives worst 'repairability' rating on iFixit

Microsoft’s Surface line has never been known for allowing users to easily fix its tablets, and the Surface Pro 3 is no exception.

In its most recent teardown, iFixit has given Microsoft’s new Windows 8 tablet its lowest score, a 1 out of 10 “repairability” rating – meaning Surface Pro 3 owners will almost certainly not be able to repair the tablet on their own. The website cites copious amounts of strong adhesive, non-standard connectors and difficulty opening the hardware without mistake as factors in the poor score.

Wondering just how difficult the Surface Pro 3 is to repair on your own? On its very first step opening the tablet, the experienced the iFixit staff accidentally cracked the Surface Pro 3’s screen as a result of its fused glass panel and LCD. The website states its engineer “carefully heated and pried up the glass at the edge of the device, but the cooling adhesive alone was enough to crack the glass on our photo table.”

Another difficult repair factor included the Surface Pro 3’s battery using a “tar-like adhesive” to connect it to the tablet’s frame. This adhesive was found elsewhere throughout the device, including on top of the peripheral board, where the front-facing camera resides.  

The Surface Pro 3’s poor repair rating shouldn’t come as a surprise, as both the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 also received iFixit’s worst score. While some tablets receive better ratings from iFixit (including the Surface RT, which received a 4 out of 10 score), manufacturers almost always insist users send them back for hardware fixes and void warranties for any owner-attempted repairs.

Source: iFixit via Engadget | Image via iFixit

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One of many things that happens when a company continues to make a major expansion into areas unrelated to their core business. The history of business is filled with great examples of this situation, if only those in charge would read and be aware of the past.

TsarNikky said,
One of many things that happens when a company continues to make a major expansion into areas unrelated to their core business. The history of business is filled with great examples of this situation, if only those in charge would read and be aware of the past.

It is called diversification of income. Smart move.

Can't you use fairy dust to fix an iPad? I would expect this "iFixit" to be giving every device with a tablet form factor a score of 1 because theirs little to no chance of a home repair succeeding.

I stand corrected, I was assuming you meant the happy-factor in using the device.
Neither this or the ipad look particularly easy to get into, and to be honest, if someone asked me to repair one of these, I'd probably send them away and tell them to be ashamed of themselves.
Then again, I don't actually know anyone that has one of these, so that can only be a good thing.

dead.cell said,
The age of disposable electronics.

A $30 DVD player you buy at WalMart is "disposable electronics". When the cheapest Surface Pro starts at nearly $1K, you'll be looking at getting it fixed.

A DVD player will play and last you for a long period of time. A Surface Pro 3 is only awesome until the Surface Pro 4, 5, and 6 come out. Suddenly, this once hot device is not as awesome as the new stuff.

I say this as the people who've been buying Surface Pro 3's at our store are already fans, some replacing their first generation, others replacing the second just for the size increase.

dead.cell said,
A DVD player will play and last you for a long period of time. A Surface Pro 3 is only awesome until the Surface Pro 4, 5, and 6 come out. Suddenly, this once hot device is not as awesome as the new stuff.

I say this as the people who've been buying Surface Pro 3's at our store are already fans, some replacing their first generation, others replacing the second just for the size increase.

I beg to differ. I have the original Pro, and have yet to see anything in the 2 or 3 that would make me want to switch. Can't imagine either what they'd put in the next one that would make me want to replace mine.

And based on what I've seen, the cheapie DVD players certainly do NOT "last for a long period of time"--they're only designed to last as long as their warranty period, and they're not worth the time trying to repair. I stand by my assertion.

I've been putting together my own PCs for well over 25 years. As much as I like to tinker with hardware, if my Surface Pro needs repairs, I don't care about its "repairability" score; that'll be the repair shop's problem, not mine.

"The batteries on our Surface products are designed with some of the highest charge cycles for consumer electronic devices," the team wrote. "This means that the battery can get charged daily (5 days a week) for over 4.5 years and still maintain 80% capacity."

I guess before you spout nonsense do a little research.
and instead of no thank you, you might want to change that to Thank you Microsoft

TheBlueRaja said,
Jesus, can you imagine dropping a grand and a half on a top SP3 only for the battery to pack in 2 years later...

No thank you.

2 years later you'll upgrade to surface pro 5.

dingl_ said,
"The batteries on our Surface products are designed with some of the highest charge cycles for consumer electronic devices," the team wrote. "This means that the battery can get charged daily (5 days a week) for over 4.5 years and still maintain 80% capacity."

I guess before you spout nonsense do a little research.
and instead of no thank you, you might want to change that to Thank you Microsoft

I don't trust marketing gibberish from the seller.

I guess it is a lot like the super long battery claims on mobile devices. That only get those numbers if you place it on ice and don't disable all radios...

The vendor will tell you whatever gets you to pay money.

Lithium batteries are always said to last 5 years. Has been the case since the 90s. It is extremely rare to see any still kicking properly after 2.

Didn't iFixIt give Apple products better scores in the past and they are about the same to take apart, glue everywhere, melting adheasive blah blah blah...

It not being able to come apart easily is the reason why panos panay was so confident about dropping it on stage in front of the press. Come on guys...my Dell laptop gets a 10/10 for serviceability but I end up changing parts literally every half a year. I have a broken hinge and they tell me not to worry because it can be fixed (for a nice grand sum). I'd rather the hinge not break so easily due to crappy design in the first place!

This is completely bogus. Sensationalist nonsense.

Surface Pro 3 is a tablet. Nobody "upgrades" or "repairs" these things. It's no different than the iPad Air, which doesn't get this kind of sensationalist headline.

This is biased B.S. anti-Microsoft slant. Nobody is expecting this cutting-edge hardware to be user-serviceable. That misses the whole point.

I'm not sure I see it as anti-Microsoft when other devices in this form factor receive similar scores on iFixit. Granted, I think it's funny that the iPads typically receive 2's instead of 1's when they have exactly the same issues (easily cracked screen, gobs of adhesive everywhere), but the scale is falsely granular anyway (there's no discernable difference between a score of two or one - it's an almost hopeless task and one you don't want to deal with).

It's not just the scores I'm talking about (although you identify a clear bias there as well)... it's the sensational headlines generated by the scores, like the one at the top of this article (and all over Twitter, etc.) It's ridiculous. It makes it sound like there's something WRONG with the device or that you'd have to be a sucker to buy one. Which is not the case at all. It's irresponsible click-bait, and you just don't see this when scores are reported for new iDevices.

We just interpret it differently. I had no doubt that the device would be difficult to take apart, and I don't think that it detracts from the usability or reparability of these devices. Consider that obtaining the spare parts would in itself be quite expensive.

To me, the low score is completely warranted, but it is simply a consequence of making the device slim and light - properties that I care much more about as a consumer since I expect to be using it rather than disassembling it and soldering in new RAM chips on a frequent basis. Receiving a "worst" rating here is about as detrimental here as the SP3 rating low in a pizza taste test. It's not going to taste good, but that's not what it was made for. :D

Again, it's the headlines. How YOU interpret it isn't the issue. You're smart. Most people see this headline calling Surface Pro 3 THE WORST!!! and that's all they take away from it.

When it's PEFECTLY EXEPCTED, and EXACTLY THE NORM for this kind of device.

It's a stupid headline, and I hate seeing it perpetuated like this, and I REALLY hate how sensationalistic headlines like this are blared with trumpets for a Microsoft device, but completely absent from coverage of the latest iDevice.

It's horribly biased, and so painfully obvious too. And pro-Microsoft sites like THIS ONE shouldn't perpetuate this kind of stupid nonsense.

devHead said,
Couldn't the same be said for any tablet, such as, the iPad, or iPad Air? Are they easy to fix?

Even in the official service manual (Technician Guide) for the iPad, the only removable item listed in the Take Apart section is the SIM tray! The rest of it is just troubleshooting and diagnostics.

devHead said,
Couldn't the same be said for any tablet, such as, the iPad, or iPad Air? Are they easy to fix?

I think the main debate here is it's not just a tablet.. it's a pretty effective laptop or main computer device should someone actually want to use it like that.

People will just need to accept custom parts if they want thinner and lighter and stylish... especially a device like this is good enough and expensive enough to not think about upgrading it for several years at which point we'll have several new models to replace it with instead... and if it breaks down then it's covered by warranty.

It was the same with the rMBP.. who wants to spend that much on bit of kit and then think about upgrading it or messing with it? Even if it breaks down i wouldn't think about trying to go inside and fix it, i paid the premium i'd expect premium and it would go straight back for repair/replacement... it's a non issue!

The only user repairable tablet I'm aware of is the HP ElitePad. It is fairly easy to break down and has many replaceable components.

I can only imagine the repair facilities...I've had nothing but issues from HP, ASUS and the lot...likely many use the same facilities to contract out the work...pray it doesn't have problems or that they just send you a new device...hopefully won't be an issue because they clearly made efforts to discourage ease of access.

Can't speak for them currently.

When I had my pro 1 I had some memory go bad about 6 months in, they had me another pro 1 in 3 days for the exchange.

Not saying my service was above/below the norm, but this is the type of device you probably want the extended warranty unless you are planning on upgrading every year or so.

Hahaiah said,
I can only imagine the repair facilities...I've had nothing but issues from HP, ASUS and the lot...likely many use the same facilities to contract out the work...pray it doesn't have problems or that they just send you a new device...hopefully won't be an issue because they clearly made efforts to discourage ease of access.

I'm sure all they do is image your drive to a new device and move all the data then ship it back to you. it makes no financial sense to fix this.

Bonfire said,
They don't want you to fix them, it is disposable. When it breaks they want you to buy a new one.

Or it could be that they wanted to make it extremely thin and strong and keep cool without making too much noise and pack powerful cpus. Everything inside is custom built.

Seriously you cant do the above and keep end user repairability in mind.

This is by far a pretty dumb thing to even try. It's a tablet, not a laptop. Who would expect to be able to repair this thing? It's designed to last the life of the product as a consumption device. Buy a laptop if you want to waste time repairing it.

Who the flip cares. Its not meant to be taken apart and repaired its meant to take a beating and keep working and everything remain solid in place
Why rate something like Surface Pro 3, it dies you be sure to have Microsoft Care, it gets replaced. done
welcome to the future Neowin

-adrian- said,
well that was basically one of the pros of a Windows PC. Great customization choices .. not anymore

This is NOT a PC...

PC is something *ATX not this crap. Because it says i7 doesn't mean it comes close to the regular PC i7.

Really, did I miss something or is Surface Pro 3 the only PC available on the market for you to buy? there will always be devices you(the user) can muck with. Surface Pro 3 just happens to not be 1 of those devices

want to screw with stuff? buy a device that you can screw with, there is no gun to your head to buy Surface Pro 3. buy a Laptop that can be upgraded(somewhat), build a desktop and trick that out yourself

Surface Pro 3 is means to be solid, the guy keeps dropping it on stage for a reason and that's to show you its not gonna fall apart ;P I could drop my Lenovo device on
my floor too i'd break it in two pieces tho

-adrian- said,
well that was basically one of the pros of a Windows PC. Great customization choices .. not anymore
True. Except this is a tablet not a PC.

Its both Tablet+PC
i'm still not sure how anyone does not see that yet, you can use the thing whichever way you need to

Max Norris said,

Then buy a PC, not a tablet. Apples and oranges, man.

Houtei said,
True. Except this is a tablet not a PC.

Tell me what makes a tablet not a personal computer.. cant wait for your answers

alwaysonacoffebreak said,

This is NOT a PC...

It really is though. Just because it doesn't have "ATX" doesn't mean it's not a PC. Is a laptop a PC? Is an all-in-one desktop a PC? I think they are and there's A LOT of people that would agree with me on all accounts.

This is the dumbest discussion I've ever read. Are you people seriously arguing about the differences of a tablet vs a pc now?

-adrian- said,

Tell me what makes a tablet not a personal computer.. cant wait for your answers

lol I knew someone was going to jump in and say something like this. Technically yeah its a "PC". But not in the sense that people use the term usually. Never heard anyone say i want a PC and mean a tablet in my life. Guess i should of said its not a desktop computer to appease the people like you.

Also generally if you say just "PC" its pretty widely assumed you mean "DESKTOP PC" for anything else you have to be specific like "Tablet PC" "Notebook PC" "HTPC" "Pocket PC".

Mr.XXIV said,
This is the dumbest discussion I've ever read. Are you people seriously arguing about the differences of a tablet vs a pc now?
Yes. I think we are. Also if this the dumbest discussion you have read then haven't read 90% of the discussion on this forum.

dingl_ said,
Its both Tablet+PC
i'm still not sure how anyone does not see that yet, you can use the thing whichever way you need to

Well my first Tablet, a Toshiba 3505, was a Tablet PC as well... in 2002. The original concept, as envisioned by BG, has always been that a Tablet PC is..... a laptop PC with added functionalities, a laptop on steroids if you prefer. It is not, at least for the people who jumped on the boat early, something new.

Houtei said,
Yes. I think we are. Also if this the dumbest discussion you have read then haven't read 90% of the discussion on this forum.

Except the majority of the forum discussions were based on Android vs iOS/OS X vs Windows, this is just getting ridiculous.

This is what I find pathetic about Android and Windows users, you criticize Apple devices, but you guys can't even find peace within your own areas of Tablets and Desktops now? I'm so done. You guys actually have civil wars. You don't ever see Apple users argue at each other on here like this.

Open Minded said,

It really is though. Just because it doesn't have "ATX" doesn't mean it's not a PC. Is a laptop a PC? Is an all-in-one desktop a PC? I think they are and there's A LOT of people that would agree with me on all accounts.

Laptops nor all-in-one's are PC's. They are exactly what you called them. PC has been traditionaly the term for dekstops. Lately only some fanbois keep calling everything a PC since "orrrr myhhh geeerd" a personal computer.

Grow up from your dipers. SP3 is an tablet, like it or not. The i7 in the SP3 is as weak as an i3 on a desktop. Get over yourself.

-adrian- said,

Tell me what makes a tablet not a personal computer.. cant wait for your answers

I duno, go ask Apple... They have claimed for years that they are not "PC"s even though they are a personal computer also....

neufuse said,

I duno, go ask Apple... They have claimed for years that they are not "PC"s even though they are a personal computer also....

Except they weren't trying to differ for the name..

That's Horrible. I just took apart my Acer w500 recently to upgrade the msata drive. Wasn't that bad. but this looks ridiculous.

Yea, Acer w500 is the pinnicle of compact design excellence... /s
nothing on the market compares to Surface Pro 3 yet, when that happens you let us know the repairability of that device

warwagon said,
That's Horrible. I just took apart my Acer w500 recently to upgrade the msata drive. Wasn't that bad. but this looks ridiculous.

I cannot fix a BMW M3 but I can fix my lawn mower. your point?

dingl_ said,
Yea, Acer w500 is the pinnicle of compact design excellence... /s
nothing on the market compares to Surface Pro 3 yet, when that happens you let us know the repairability of that device

Why would comparable products be as hard to repair as the Surface? iPhone came out before the Samsung devices. Samsung devices are much easier to repair than an iPhone. Newer device, older device...doesnt matter. It is how the OEM designed the product and and competing products will either be easier or harder to repair.

Personally, I would like to be able to repair something myself, when out of warranty. Cheaper, faster, and easier than sending it in. Of course, you have to know what you are doing first.

To each their own.

warwagon said,
That's Horrible. I just took apart my Acer w500 recently to upgrade the msata drive. Wasn't that bad. but this looks ridiculous.

hahaha Acer, broken before you get it! Seriously people stop buying this crap!

Expensive device with no parts that the end user can replace.. no thanks, I'll send it in for repairs, that's what the warranty's for.

Max Norris said,
Expensive device with no parts that the end user can replace.. no thanks, I'll send it in for repairs, that's what the warranty's for.

I'm sorry sir but it seems like your device was exposed to water and that voids the warranty we can still fix it but it will cost 200$.
:p

If you're unable to keep your tablet from falling into the toilet I doubt you'll have much better luck taking one apart without breaking it.

Max Norris said,
If you're unable to keep your tablet from falling into the toilet I doubt you'll have much better luck taking one apart without breaking it.

Or you took it outside during the over 90% humid and above 90 degree whether. Confusing the sensor...

Lizardslap said,

I'm sorry sir but it seems like your device was exposed to water and that voids the warranty we can still fix it but it will cost 200$.
:p

If I exposed it to water, I am perfectly fine with that.

Yes, me too, totally surprised that people still care about fixing tablets themselves, rather than taking it to warranty :D welcome back to 90's.

Deemon said,
Yes, me too, totally surprised that people still care about fixing tablets themselves, rather than taking it to warranty :D welcome back to 90's.

Warranties are unlimited in duration? They cover things like cracking screens?

Warranties cover only manufacturing defects. No one is opening their tablet for these reasons. Well, unless they have owned it more than a year (two years for some jurisdictions). Which isn't uncommon.

Aaaand you are saying that the usual crowd who buy these things will try to swap them screens and other components also themselves? Reality check sir. 50% don't even know the difference ram vs hdd/sdd and you think they will try to repair these things by themselves? Even if it's something which the user did and warranty doesn't cover .. most people have no idea what to do, so they take it to the place which is doing the warranty for these anyways or just buy a new device.