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You won't be able to repair the Essential Phone

Part of the reason the Essential Phone stands out from the crowd is its unique materials. There isn't any other device on the market using a titanium frame or ceramic back, due to how difficult these materials are to source. Besides just being sturdy and adding to shipping delays, the unique materials also mean the phone will never be user-servicable.

iFixit did its customary teardown of the Essential Phone and the results are, to put it delicately, not great. Before the iFixit team could even get into the device, the device had to be frozen with super cold aerosol, then reheated to stress the adhesive holding the ceramic back onto the phone. Once this was done, it was discovered that is the wrong way to get into the phone, and the team began working on removing the display, which cracked in the process.

iFixit's standard phone repair kit — ironicly named the Essential Electronics Tool Kit — wasn't up to the job, and even more specialized tools had to be used. The battery was secured in place with a stretchy adhesive, so it wouldn't be too difficult to remove and replace, after the harrowing journey it takes to get to it. Elsewhere, the USB-C port is soldered to the motherboard, so there's no replacing it. That's especially concerning due to the extra wear and tear the port will endure since the phone lacks a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack. Inside, the phone sports mostly Qualcomm components, with Samsung supplying the storage module and RAM.

There's really no other way to say this, but no user is going to be able to repair the Essential Phone. With Essential partnering with Best Buy, Sprint, and other retailers, there is already a support network for customers that run into problems with the device. Definitely give those a try before blasting your phone with super cold aerosol.

Were you planning to open the Essential Phone? Let us know down below!

40 Comments
  • I'm really surprised the iFixIt crew went in through the back. There's more than one video showing the chassis construction and how the ceramic panel fits on. I suspect any repairs will have to go back to the company.
  • That's a bummer, however with phones being super thin and waterproofing being a requirement now, the DIY repair crew has been rendered obsolete. If we don't care about IP-whatever certification and thin phones, we could get back to user-serviceable components.
  • Well, the essential phone isn't water resistant (waterproofing isn't a thing in phones) and is 7.8mm versus, for example, the Oneplus 5 which is 7.3mm and very user serviceable, scoring a 7/10 from iFixit... I'm not necessarily saying there aren't legit reasons for them to do such a bad job from a repairability standpoint (especially if you consider cost cutting a legit reason), but water resistance and thinness aren't really that arguable here.
  • The bezeless phones may issue less repairability too.
  • It certainly won't help, but it doesn't have to be a hindrance if they don't want it to be, and I'm not willing to cede it to them as an excuse... Even the S8 got a 4.
  • No phone is bezeless. The bezels may be thin but they're still there (and could conceivably be made thinner).
  • Bezeless is just a term. No one is being literal.
  • lol internet weiners, just waiting to jump on technicalities everyone already knows
  • Take a chill pill. But in other news, the s9 supposedly will be completely bezeless.
  • For our purposes here on this website, I think we can get past the "no phone is water proof!" game and trust that we mean water resistance.
  • You say that, but I'd rather we get into the habit of using correct language in cases where a misunderstanding means the risk of a totally destroyed device. I'm sure any of the editors can probably tell you that more normals than nerds visit this site on a daily basis.
  • Hmmm. A good case is in order And try to avoid bending usb on entry re-entry ..
  • To bad there aren't any case. I bought a generic sleeve for the phone.
  • I've never repaired my own before and don't plan on starting. Never had need of a repair in 20 years of owning various units. But I think I'd be pleased not unhappy with this knowledge because it shows just how solid this device really is. Sounds like it's built like a tank and that's a good thing imo.
  • It doesn't necessarily just impact user repairs though. In a ship environment you could be talking about the difference between $50 worth of labour versus $150 or $200 worth of labour... Or the phone simply being beyond economical repair despite it only needing something as simple as a new battery or USB port. Which is insane.
  • I once zapped my Note 3 microUSB port because of a cable that went bad. All it took was a run-off-the-mill screwdriver to take the burnt module out and replace it. Good times of easily serviceable phones.
  • Love the phone. Hate customer service. This is probably the most solid built phone I have ever owned. But none of this matter if I can actually return it. It's been a nightmare just to be told they have to "mail" a return label 🙄🙄. Built after looking again at the Note 8 the build pales in comparison. And I absolutely love the Note 8 so I'm unbiased in the comparison.
  • What did you have to return it for? I'm looking to order one in a few weeks but was looking for actual consumer feedback.
  • I bought the Essential PH-1. I love the build. Hate the fingerprint magnet back, but I skin or put all my phones in a case.
    I don't plan on repairing my own phone. That's why I bought the two year $99 insurance with the phone. Cheapest insurance to buy since over two years it works out the be about $4.20 a month. The last phone I repaired was my daughter's Galaxy S4 camera module. I've never replaced a screen.
    For the iFixIt team, why on earth would you try to go through the back?
    The exploded assembly view of the phone on the Essential site shows front facing screws holding the motherboard in place.
    So getting the phone apart is a task you should attempt by removing the screen.
  • I like my phones to be easily repairable. I had an old phone years ago that had its sim card slot get messed up with a sim card adapter and I bought a new simcard slot part for $5 and took the phone apart and fixed it myself. So much nicer spending $5 to fix the phone then $150 to have someone else do it.
  • They likely took the back off first in hopes of taking it apart without totally destroying it... the way it's put together makes it virtually impossible to get in through the front without ruining the display.
  • I do phone repair where I work and I doubt I will ever see this phone anyway. I mostly just see iPhones and Samsung's. Nice to know it's not possible if a customer comes up with one however. Another reason I hate these bezelless glass back phones, makes them harder to repair.
  • These repair articles are stupid. 99.0000000 of us do not repair our phones or take them in for repair. For those who do congratulations, better man than I.
  • But it does help people and or companies who do this for a living. And that's why they are made.
  • No, I will grant you maybe beneficial for repair shops, other than that average Joe no , means nothing.
  • You're saying that in an article/comments section where there are several 'average Joes' who have at least repaired their own phone once though. Personally I'd say the average Joe android user doesn't read tech sites about a specific phone operating system. If thats the case then yes, publishing this information to your average customer in a phone shop probably wouldnt be too useful. Somewhere like this website however is the ideal place/target market.
  • I get that. But there's a bigger issue when a phone is practically impossible to fix without buying a replacement screen. A qualified independent phone repair place can't fix it for you in a couple hours in case of an emergency. Plenty of people have been there.
  • Yeah, but broken screens is the number one reason a phone needs repair anyways (at least that's been my case in the past). Yes, I know other components can go bad like charging ports and batteries.
  • "For those who do congratulations, better man than I." Thanks, but I already knew that.
  • Seriously who fixes their smartphones like this....it's merica git out n buy a new one!
  • Hard to repair yourself, oh well, such is life. I'm more concerned about it's durability. I've heard it has very good marks for that, waterproofing non-withstanding.. Gone are the days you could launch your tracfone, at a dog for your safety, pick it back up, and make a call. I'd rather have a phone that doesn't physically break.
  • then it is essential that they build them to last and not break or break down.
  • And then you see another reason why the headphone jack is more important than ever. Unnecessary wear and tear on the usbc port... I really hope Samsung continues the trend of keeping the headphone jack.
  • 99 bucks is a great price for two years of protection, hopefully it is transferable so when I see l the phone I can tag that on. Also all I really want is a great bumper case is that too hard, of yeah and a lifeproof case (that will never happen)
  • I own the phone, and could care less about repairing it myself. I have swapped batteries in tablets, so I have some experience. I know many friends who have replaced the glass in their iPhones, especially with kids who don't use cases/drop often. For them, repairability might be a consideration in purchasing. I do appreciate the article, but it doesn't affect my opinion as an Essential owner. To be honest, I'm liking the phone more each day...5 days in so far.
  • Also, dbrand.com now has back skins for pre-order. Very cool colors/patterns. Just what the doc ordered for our slip-n-slide dilemma. Search for phones, and it will pop up. Isn't in the overall exposed list. https://dbrand.com/shop/essential-phone-skins?utm_mnsid=UUacUdUcU1887336
  • I am ordering this, protects the front and back of the phone, used this before, they are great for phones with slight curved edge screens. Plus the back will not be covered on this phone "nice clear film", which I also like.
    Do not waste your time ordering tempered glass screen protectors for this phone, none of them work, they all have this nasty halo effect around the edges of the phone.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B074TYF81G/ref=ox_sc_act_image_6?smid=A3F...
  • I just received the 360 camera today, man this thing just snaps on, once it's quarter inch from the back it just snaps right onto the back of the phone, one thing it also does is eat up the phones battery, once attached initially it performs a software update.
    On another note, the FedEx driver who delivered my 360 camera backed up into my gutter, a bit more and he would have ended up going thru my garage door.
  • Don't forget the camera case bag in the bottom of the box. Got mine today, cannot wait to use at both our son's collegiate games/bands...hell with 180 degree views. Good subforum "Essential" on Reddit. Followed by Essential team/support advice.
  • Thanks for the heads up, I did not know.