Smartphones have long been treated as disposable objects — use them for two years, and then it’s time to upgrade to a new model. As phones have gotten more capable, users have started to expect longer support and better repair options. But repairing a phone by yourself? That can be tricky without official components and directions, but that’s what Samsung is going to offer starting this summer.
Samsung has announced it will partner with iFixit to offer its customers self-repair kits for select devices. It is not the first to do this — Motorola started offering repair kits in partnership with iFixit several years ago, but it hasn’t been good about adding support for newer phones. Hopefully, Samsung will take this initiative more seriously.
To start, Samsung and iFixit will offer displays, rear glass covers, and charging port hardware. More parts will arrive later. Likewise, the initial selection of supported phone models will be limited to just the Galaxy S20 family, Galaxy S21 family, and the Galaxy Tab S7+ (just that model). Samsung did not explain why it chose those particular devices when it also sells a ton of cheaper A-series tablets and smartphones, which should be cheaper and easier for consumers to repair at home.
When the service launches this summer, you will be able to purchase official replacement parts and tools for the aforementioned devices. There will also be step-by-step instructions to guide you through the repair process. However, these phones and tablets are also some of the more complicated to tinker around inside. For example, the S20 Ultra got a poor 3/10 score for repairability from iFixit, and the S21 Ultra didn’t do any better. That means owners who want to repair these phones themselves will have to deal with lots of adhesive, cramped components, hard-to-reach screws, and so on. There’s also a chance that attempting to replace a busted component on one of these phones could cause something else to break, leading to a more costly professional repair.
Nevertheless, it’s important that consumers have access to official parts and instructions—this is a centerpiece of the right to repair movement. When you buy a phone, you should have the option to keep using it longer than the average lifespan of a lithium-ion battery. Samsung has the software side of this figured out, too. After having one of the worst software update records in the early years of Android, it now offers the best update commitment with four years of OS updates and five years of security patches. That almost makes the company’s exorbitant Galaxy S pricing worth it.