A few internal changes, but none that change the game. With his new Galaxy S21 Ultra, Samsung is once again showing that it is not making enough efforts to improve the repairability potential of its flagships.
Samsung has advanced its Galaxy S21 Ultra on many points compared to the previous model, but without advancing the Schmilblick in terms of repairability. This is what emerges from the complete dismantling of the machine carried out by the Americans of iFixit. The site specializing in repair tutorials for electronic devices (but also the sale of tools, parts and repair kits), does report some internal changes, such as the addition of an induction charging coil more efficient or replacing the fingerprint reader under the screen with a 77% larger sensor.
The locations of the vibration motor and the SIM card reader have also been swapped, but that’s about it. In other words: nothing that makes it easier to disassemble the smartphone or replace its main components in better conditions.
The only advantage of the S21 Ultra? It relies on standard screws …
Like last year, Samsung uses Philips screws (cruciform) to secure the various parts of its flagship. All screws used are otherwise the same size and length, but according to iFixit technicians, this is the only real strength of the S21 Ultra. For the rest, the device makes extensive use of glue to hold the battery in place, but also the screen and the rear panel. The S21 Ultra does take advantage of modular components, but their partially non-modular cabling makes a bad impression. Assessment: iFixit gives it a severe score of 3/10 in the repairability index.
As Android Authority points out, if the issue of repairs is a determining factor for you, the Galaxy S21 “classic” is better positioned in this area. The latter indeed uses many modular components that can be replaced quite easily and put on a rear panel in polycarbonate much less fragile.
Note, however, that Samsung is behind its main competitor in the field of repairability. The iPhone 12 Pro Max for its part obtained 6/10 on iFixit, thanks to mainly modular components, an easy-to-access screen and battery, or even reusable fixing systems.
This once again demonstrates the gap that there may be between the iFixit “in-house” repair rating and the French repairability index. The latter in fact rises to 8.2 / 10 for the Galaxy S21 Ultra.