There was a time when Apple produced some of the most repair-unfriendly products and while some still do better in that regard, there are now others who have also done worse. It seems that Samsung’s obsession to one-up Apple in almost every sense may have backfired a bit in this year’s Galaxy flagships. The Galaxy S21, the most affordable of the three available models, does have some things going for it when it comes to third-party or self-repair but nothing to save it from getting a disappointing mark on iFixit’s scale.
Unlike the Galaxy S21 Ultra, the Galaxy S21 sports a plastic back and a flat screen. Those might not be the marks of high-end premium flagships these days but those elements work in the phone’s favor in this case. The plastic rear makes it easier to pry the back off while the flat screen lessens the risk of cracking the screen when trying to separate it from the mid-frame.
Unfortunately, that’s where the good bits end for iFixit. The teardown experts admit that the modular nature of components and the use of a single standard type of screw does simplify a few things but the amount of work required is still a daunting chore.
More importantly, the parts that are most likely to get worn out first or damaged are also the hardest to remove. The screen, while easier to remove, is still as fragile as ever and the battery is also just as sticky. iFixit also complains about the higher chances for the USB-C to break sooner without a headphone jack for wired audio output.
With a score of 4 out of 10, the Galaxy S21 scores way below most smartphones on the repairability scale. Even the iPhone 12 siblings are a bit higher with their 6. Granted, the Galaxy S21 has become more affordable but it’s still an expensive investment that you’d hope will last you a long while, especially with repairs.