back to article Xiaomi didn't turn the glue up to 11 on its new Mi flagship, but still gets low marks for repairability

Released in China last year, and about to drop in the UK, the Xiaomi Mi 11 drew attention because of its status as the debut device for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset. Now it has got the interest of right-to-repair campaigners iFixit for different reasons altogether. And boy, was this latest teardown a mixed bag. …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Curved screen

    If customers want (for some reason) a screen that goes around the sides, for extra drop risk, isn't this their fault?

    It's not like the maker is doing this deliberately to make it non-repairable.

    Does mean I have an extra reason to stick to $100 Xiaomi low-end phones

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Curved screen

      Thinking about it, this could be a good use for repair scores.

      In looking for a new phone that curved screen, or being 0.1mm thinner isn't just costing me $X up front I know that a repair is going to be $Y more than the base model

  2. ITsaproblem

    I'd be interested in what the average user would sacrifice (financial or features) in order to make the most common repairs easier and more affordable. I'd certainly scrap a glass (why?why?why?) and a curved display. I'd happy take some extra chin and thickness for a swappable battery. I'd probably accept a retractable aerial for more stable reception. The coolness that comes with it is a bonus

    1. Duncan Macdonald


      The back should be held on by screws or clips not glue - the would make repairs (especially battery replacement) far easier. Glass backs and curved screens both reduce device life expectancy as they result in a more fragile device.

      My previous phone was a THL one with a clip on plastic back and a user swappable battery (the package even included a spare back and a spare battery) - if this was possible on a £200 phone why is it not available on current flagship phones ?

      Icon for the deliberately difficult to repair phones =======>

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      I experimented a bit. My current phone (Moto G6 Play) could be 4x thicker and I wouldn't mind a bit. I would certainly trade size for repairability and a replaceable battery.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did I read that right?

    Apple 6/10, Samsung 3/10, Xiaomi 4/10?

    Hmm... where are all the armchair commentators in the forums today?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Did I read that right?

      I keep trying to get up off the couch to comment and slipping off the curved edges.

      /inserts joke icon/

  4. Elledan

    Throw-away culture

    While there are a few exceptions to the rule of smartphones being disposable devices, it seems that the market has firmly locked into a kind of arms race to develop the coolest, thinnest, most performant devices in the firm knowledge that the majority of those devices will be tossed after 2-3 years on the upside.

    My own smartphone is the Xiaomi Mi 5, which was pretty rad when it was new, but has been ineligible to receive anything beyond the standard Google updates. Without the manufacturer's blessing, and without a little bit of help from a third-party OS (like LineageOS), one's expensive hardware device has essentially been rendered obsolete after what, three years?

    Now for the Xiaomi Mi 5 I paid 'only' 350 Euro new and it is still working for me, even as its user experience is slowly going down the drain. If something broke on it now, I'd probably opt for a new 160-ish Redmi phone and be happy for another few years again. Yet smartphones have ballooned in price on the high-end.

    Cutting corners on repairability is one thing in a budget smartphone that costs around a hundred bucks. But what about those $1,400 smartphones? I wouldn't want to buy them for the simple reason that I do not expect more life out of them than out of the budget phones you can get for a fraction of that price. Heck, you can buy a $140 phone each year for ten years straight, and in the end come out ahead on that $1,400 phone which one most definitely isn't going to be using for ten years.

    If only phones were not only repairable, but also upgradable, I guess. The screen is usually fine, even after years of use, but one might want a bit more storage and RAM, maybe a new SoC with a bit more power. Having standard modules that slot together would even allow one to configure one's own ideal phone instead of having to compromise on whatever some manufacturer put together.

    Oh, and making it affordable as well. Economies of scale tend to favour whatever junk gets churned out the fastest at the lowest cost. Hence glue over screws.It does feel like repairability is going to have to be enforced by law, as clearly the target market is too chummed with their latest fondleslabs to give much thought to such matters.

    1. rd232

      Re: Throw-away culture

      I assume you're not aware of the Fairphone attempt to do just this - ?

      A worthy effort, as long as you're good with a phone that feels a generation or two older than the current one.

      1. Elledan

        Re: Throw-away culture

        I have heard of the Fairphone, yeah. A former colleague also had one of those phones, and he complained about the modular build causing issues with contact between modules. I still have one of the modules which he replaced on this phone.

        It's a fair try, but it did not convince me to spend so much money on one of those phones.

    2. ITsaproblem

      Re: Throw-away culture

      I'd always loved the idea of upgradable phones, but they never seem to gain traction: Google shelved Project Ara for reasons I cannot ascertain. LG had some quirky modules for G5 (including a DAC that found some fans to use in its own right when they burned off stock), but that was short lived.

      Maybe as skinny jeans fall out of fashion, fatter phones will become more acceptable. Screws, plastic backs, swappable batteries...all the shiz we want. I'm not a fan of regulation (maybe El-Reg-ulation) but may .gov needs to look at putting some common standards in for batteries, screws and driver/firmware support. Maybe the future is subscription model, like M365

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