Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Teardown: Removable Battery Is Gone - InformationWeek

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Mobile // Mobile Devices
03:18 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Teardown: Removable Battery Is Gone

The curved display of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is costly to make. The battery is also glued in tight, making the phone hard for owners to repair, according to a new report from gadget specialist iFixit.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: Night At The Museum
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: Night At The Museum
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Since the beginning, Samsung's Galaxy S smartphone models have offered user-replaceable batteries. That all changed with the new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge devices, which are made from metal and glass. According to iFixit, the phone is all-but-impossible for people to fix on their own.

iFixit focused its attention on disassembling the Galaxy S6 Edge to learn more about the phone's unique display.

The phone's glass is curved on both sides. In order to achieve this effect, Samsung uses a process called 3D thermoforming. Put simply, it heats the glass to a very specific temperature and rolls it on a rod to create the curved shape. Apparently the process isn't easy, and Samsung is suffering very low yields -- just 50%. That means half the glass gets tossed into the trash, which costs Samsung money and has a negative environmental impact.

Samsung hasn't said if or how it is recycling the glass.

The display is generally the most expensive part of any phone, but the glass that covers the actual display element of most phones is fairly cheap at $3 (at volume). iFixit said the curved glass panel for the S6 Edge costs $26, more than eight times as much. Finding replacement panels to fix broken S6 Edge phones probably won't be easy or cheap.

(Image: The insides of the Glaxy S6 Edge via iFixit)

Samsung used prodigious amounts of glue to hold the S6 Edge together.

The back panel, also made of glass, is "stuck on rock-solid" to the metal frame. The battery adheres to the undercarriage of the display by means of glue, which means users won't be able to swap it out. The Galaxy S, S2, S3, S4, and S5 all had removable plastic rear covers, and the batteries could easily be changed if needed. Many of today's high-end devices, such as Apple's iPhone and the HTC One, are sealed up tight.

Thanks to the tricky screen and glued-in battery, iFixit gave the Galaxy S6 Edge a repairability score of 3 out of 10. In other words, don't bother.

As for what's hiding inside the GS6 and GS6 Edge, iFixit discovered Samsung's Exynos 7420 octa-core processor with four cores at 2.1 GHz and four cores at 1.5 GHz. Samsung used its own RAM and flash storage modules, as well as its own RF transceiver. InvenSense supplied the six-axis accelerometer and gyroscope, Wolfson Electronics supplied the audio codec, Maxim supplied the audio amplifier, and Broadcom supplied the GPS hub.

[Read about the Galaxy S6 bending under pressure.]

iFixit did not provide a breakdown on the cost of these materials.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge officially go on sale April 10.

Samsung is banking on the phones' success to lift its fortunes. The company had delivered gross margins of about 15% for nearly two years, but saw that amount drop dramatically to 7.1% in the fourth quarter of 2014. Samsung believes the S6 and S6 Edge will help boost margins back into the low double digits.

Some analysts believe that the Edge with its unique screen may outsell the regular Galaxy S6.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio
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User Rank: Moderator
4/8/2015 | 3:42:25 PM
no need to upgrade
I have been a big fan of Samsung phones since the SIII, but it's getting to the point where there's no real need to upgrade -- at least for the last couple of iterations. Basically, the only things they've been touting are a better display, while with the latest version they take away the feature that people liked the most, which was the user-replaceable battery.

I don't think phone companies appreciate how much people actually care about things like batteries and how they're swapped. Given the fact that phones are getting slimmer all the time, which is pushing batteries to their limit, people appreciate the ability to replace batteries without having to upgrade the phone -- at least I do.
User Rank: Ninja
4/7/2015 | 8:17:28 PM
"the phone is all-but-impossible for people to fix on their own."

Is that some kind of money-making ploy or is it just basic lack of forethought/putting design before function?
User Rank: Ninja
4/7/2015 | 5:48:36 PM
Re: Not very attractive
Ok, you've just talked me out of replacing my battery-draining S4, which I like even with the power issues, with the new S6. And I won't recommend to my clients, either.

What do you think they were going for when they designed the S6?
User Rank: Author
4/7/2015 | 5:35:16 PM
Re: Not very attractive
@Gary_EL I'm apt to agree. That's taking built-in obsolesence pretty far by making it almost impossible to even replace a battery.
User Rank: Ninja
4/7/2015 | 3:55:00 PM
Not very attractive
So, more expensive, prone to problems, and almost impossible to replace the battery, let alone to repair. Doesn't sound like winning product to me. I wonder what type of servicing options the users will have?
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