Apple's reputation for building hard-to-fix devices didn't dissuade hordes of people from preordering the iPhone 5 or camping outside of Apple Stores early this morning, and it turns out that's a good thing. The die-hard tinkerers over at iFixit hopped on a plane to Melbourne, Australia to get their hands (and prying screwdrivers) on the iPhone 5 before anybody else, and after stripping Apple's newest handset down to the core, the gadget gurus report that the iPhone 5 is actually easier to repair than the iPhone 4S.
It isn't all rainbows and sunshine, however. IFixit drops the iPhone 5's repairability rating to 7 out of 10 for a few niggling design choices. The iPhone 5 continues Apple's tradition of using unorthodox pentalobe screw to lock down the outer case, while several internal components are joined to a single ribbon cable, which will increase the cost of repair if just one of those components kick the bucket.
That eye-popping Retina display is another concern: "The front glass, digitizer, and LCD are all one component, thereby increasing cost of repair," the iFixit team writes.
On the plus side, the front-to-back construction of the phone makes removing the display incredibly easy -- assuming you know what you're doing, of course -- and accessing the battery simple. Previous iterations of the iPhone made removing those components a headache.
The logic board, speaker and vaunted 8-megapixel lift out easily as well, and heavy users will appreciate the new metal support bracket found behind the home button, which iFixit says "should not only increase longevity, but also make replacing the home button a lot less of a hassle." A pair of Qualcomm modems supply cellular connectivity for the phone.
All in all, it looks like the iPhone 5 is a winner inside and out -- as long as you have a pentalobe screwdriver, that is.