Most smartphones today seem to be built to be replaced rather than repaired. While many boast strong water resistance and durable materials, accidents can still make short work of those expensive products. When it comes to repairing them, there are times when it might be easier to actually replace the device and restore from backup. Taking apart a regular phone for repairs can already be a daunting task, and it seems that the Nokia XR20 “life-proof” rugged phone lives up to its name in that regard, at least in some contexts.
Depending on what needs to be replaced or repaired, the teardown process for HMD Global’s newest rugged phone can either be too easy or too hard. Fortunately, the phone’s components are modular, and it’s easy to replace most of them. That is, of course, if you can get to them easily as well.
Despite the IP68 rating, removing the plastic back cover of the Nokia XR20 is a cinch with some heat and a plastic pry tool. There are plenty of screws and LEGO-style cable connectors, though, but those are nothing in the hands of trained technicians. There is plenty of rubber to keep the water out and provide some cushioning inside, but the midframe is made from sturdy aluminum.
The difficulty comes in removing layers upon layers to get to components that need to be replaced. To replace the screen, for example, you need to remove the back cover, the black protective plates covering the logic boards, the battery, and the adhesive pull tabs just to disconnect the screen cable. And then, you have to carefully pry the delicate screen off the midframe to complete the process.
PBKreviews grades the Nokia XR20 a 6.5 out of 10 because of that. It isn’t exactly the least repairable Android smartphone in comparison, and it actually fares better than most premium flagships, especially those with glass rear covers. HMD Global definitely made a durable smartphone that, for better or worse, is also that unyielding inside.