Galaxy S8 Teardown: What iFixit Found Inside Samsung’s New Phone

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Customers who had pre-ordered Samsung’s latest Galaxy S8 have started receiving their devices, though the phone will officially launch on Friday, April 21. The S8 is Samsung’s first flagship smartphone after the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, so there is a lot of optimism and skepticism around the phone. Now experts at iFixit have disassembled the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus to reveal some interesting details about their internal components. Folks at iFixit also offered some DIY repair tips.

Galaxy S8’s repairability score: 4/10

Samsung used a new eight-point plan to enhance the safety of its flagship products after the Note 7 disaster. Sam Lionheart of iFixit notes that despite the Note 7 debacle, Samsung has kept the basic architecture unchanged with the Galaxy S8, instead of opting for a different design. Also, the S8 and S8 Plus are “fairly identical” except for the bigger display and battery of the S8 Plus.

iFixit said tearing open the Galaxy S8 was a bit difficult because of the adhesive holding the front and back panels together. The rear glass design helps integrate antennas into the back, but the glass is vulnerable to cracking during repair. From the inside, both the S8 and S8 Plus are the same, though the Plus variant packs a bigger battery. You’ll also have a hard time taking out the battery.

The new Galaxy devices received an overall repairability score of 4/10, the same as last year’s ill-fated Galaxy Note 7. It is nearly impossible to replace the front display without damaging the curved screen. It could disappoint a lot of people interested in getting the front glass replaced at home or an independent shop. Sam Lionheart added that many of the internal components were modular and easy to take out.

Qualcomm, Skyworks, Broadcom chips

The rear-mounted fingerprint sensor is modular, and can be replaced easily. As for the in-display home button, folks at iFixit did not find any pressure sensor in the display. The device packs 4GB LPDDR4 RAM and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor. The Galaxy S8 uses Toshiba’s 64GB UFS NAND memory, and Qualcomm’s Aqstic WCD9341 audio codec.

The phones also include Broadcom chips, Skyworks chips, and NXP 80T71 NFC controller. After the iFixit report, Raymond James analyst Simon Leopold said in a research note that the RF chips from Skyworks and Broadcom were “to be expected.” Leopold noted that iFixit used the Asian version of the Galaxy S8 for teardown. Though the devices pulled open by iFixit feature NFC controller chip from NXP, the Raymond James analyst said we need to check a few other teardowns to see whether Samsung sources the NFC chips from other suppliers as well.

Galaxy S8 Plus battery identical to the Note 7

The biggest highlight of the teardown remains the battery. Surprisingly, iFixit found that the 6.2-inch Galaxy S8 Plus has the same battery as the Galaxy Note 7, which was vulnerable to overheating and explosions. It doesn’t mean the S8 Plus batteries would also explode. Samsung has taken a series of steps to enhance battery safety. A recent test video shows that the new phone’s battery doesn’t catch fire or explode. In the worst case, the battery swelled up, releasing some liquid and a foul smell as it became hotter. But it did not explode.

The iFixit team said the Galaxy S8 Plus features a 13.48Wh battery (3500mAh at 3.85V), the same as the Note 7. The S8 Plus and Note 7 batteries are the same in terms of capacity, voltage, and design tolerance. It is glued firmly into the phone, making it difficult to pull out the battery for replacement. The Korean electronics giant is confident that the Note 7 explosions were caused by battery manufacturing errors rather than a flawed design.

iFixit says the Galaxy S8’s glued-in battery is proof that the Korean electronics behemoth has full faith in its eight-point plan. It noted that the design surrounding the S8 Plus battery – such as spacing, reinforcement, and installed position – are similar to the Note 7. Last year, Samsung had to permanently kill the Note 7 after a public relations nightmare.

Galaxy S8 display suffers from a reddish tint

The S8 and S8 Plus have just started reaching into the hands of pre-order customers, and people have already started complaining about the screens having a reddish tint. That’s a bit surprising considering the Galaxy S8 display has received an A+ grade from DisplayMate, which said Samsung’s new phones have the world’s best display ever.

Many S8 owners posted photos of their phones having a reddish tint on Instagram and various technology forums in South Korea. Samsung said it was not a quality issue, and could be fixed from the Settings menu. But users reported that the color balance showed no improvement even after changing the color display settings.

Industry experts told The Korea Herald that Samsung used the “Deep Red” OLED technology to strengthen the red, which could be causing the problem. Unlike LCD panels, OLED screens used on the Galaxy S8 have two subpixels: blue-green and red-green. Having two greens might cause color balance problems. So, Samsung strengthened the red color.

Some Galaxy S8 users who visited the service centers to get it fixed said they were asked to change the phones. Notably, the Galaxy S8 comes with an adaptive display that can optimize the color range, sharpness, and saturation based on the surrounding environment. Hopefully, Samsung would fix the issue through a software update soon.

The Galaxy S8 has received more than one million pre-orders in South Korea alone. It would be interesting to see how many pre-order customers go ahead and buy the phone. The Galaxy Note 7 had a purchase ratio of nearly 70%. Samsung reportedly aims to sell at least 60 million S8 and S8 Plus units worldwide by the end of 2017.

The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus feature 12-megapixel main camera with optical image stabilization and 8MP front shooter. The phones come with wireless charging, water-resistance, fast charging, and a microSD card slot. You can use the fingerprint scanner, iris scanner, or facial recognition for authentication and security.

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