Inside Apple’s Secret iPhone 14 Redesign
The best feature of the iPhone 14 is one that Apple didn’t tell you about. Forget satellite SOS and the larger camera, the headline is this: Apple has completely redesigned the internals of the iPhone 14 to make it easier to repair. It is not at all visible from the outside, but this is a big deal. It’s the most significant design change to the iPhone in a long time. The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models still have the old architecture, so if you’re thinking about buying a new phone, and you want an iPhone that really lasts, you should keep reading. If this surprises you, you’re not alone. It surprised us! The new features and external changes to the iPhone 14 are so slight that The Verge suggested it should have been called the iPhone 13S, saying “The iPhone 13, which came out a year ago and Apple is still selling, is nearly identical to the 14.” But that’s actually not true—though almost nobody had any way of knowing. Apple didn’t mention the secret redesign in their keynote. If reviewers had disassembled the phone, they would have discovered this: The iPhone 14 opens from the front and the back. This is the iPhone 14 reborn as a beautiful butterfly—a midframe in the middle, accessible screen on the left, and removable rear glass on the right. That’s no small feat. The new metal midframe that supports the structure required an entire internal redesign, as well as an RF rethink and an effective doubling of their ingress protection perimeter. In other words, Apple has gone back to the drawing board and reworked the iPhone’s internals to make repair easier. It’s an upgrade so seamless that the best tech reviewers in the world didn’t notice. A Brief History of Phones We’ve written thousands of repair guides for smartphones, so before we dive into the details of the 14, let’s take a bird’s-eye view at the mechanical evolution of smartphones. The iPhone has gone through a few major architectural shifts over the years. The original phones opened screen first, making screen swaps on the 3G a breeze. But getting at other parts, like the charge port and battery, was a lot harder. Orange cables and blue boards—back in the days before Apple dressed up their internals for us. To solve that Apple flip-flopped their approach with iPhone 4, making the phone open back first. That allowed for all kinds of cool aftermarket options like our transparent rear panel (I still think this is pretty badass), but unfortunately made screen swaps a total pain. Apple pivoted back to a (more streamlined) front-entry for the 5, and has stuck with it ever since. Opening the phone screen-first made screen repairs vastly easier, and has generally worked out pretty well, save for one major drawback—we’ll get to that in a minute. Replacing the iPhone 4’s glass rear panel was a breeze. That design is in marked contrast to the rest of the phone industry. Almost every Android phone opens from the back. Ever since the Galaxy S6, the iPhone’s nemesis has had a glued on back panel. Any repair tech will tell you that screen swaps on the Galaxy are much harder than screen swaps on the iPhone. » Read More
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