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Samsung Galaxy S21 teardown reveals new secrets — and promises simple repairs

Samsung Galaxy S21 review
(Image credit: Future)

As phones get more and more advanced, the task of fixing them often gets harder. Fortunately, a new Samsung Galaxy S21 teardown shows it should be fairly easy to repair.

The Galaxy S21 was recently taken apart by YouTuber PBK, who noted that it's fairly easy to disassemble and reassemble. The result: a repairability score of 7.5/10. And opening up the phone also revealed a number of secrets.

These days phone repair can be hampered by a number of reasons - Apple loves to make use of adhesive - though the Galaxy S21 doesn’t seem to suffer from many of these problems. Parts have been glued in place, notably the backplate, there doesn’t seem to be much of it holding components down unnecessarily. So PBK was able to get inside pretty easily. 

In fact, most of the innards could be exposed with a simple pry tool and a Philips head screwdriver. Parts popped out quite easily, without risk of breakage, and the only issues that arose were getting the battery out — something blamed on the lack of pull tabs to aid the process. The front camera was glued down, so PBK didn’t try to remove it as a result.

Most importantly everything could be fixed back into place with minimal effort, which is why PBK gave the phone such a high repairability score.

samsung galaxy s21 teardown

(Image credit: PBK)

PBK also noted that Samsung is still using a graphite cooling system, which he claims does the job just as well as a vapor cooling chamber or a copper-based alternative. 

Also revealed are optical image stabilizers on both the main and telephoto camera lenses, a larger fingerprint sensor than the Galaxy S20, an improved speaker assembly for richer sound, and two mmWave 5G antennas if you want to take advantage of Verizon’s 5G network.

samsung galaxy s21 teardown

(Image credit: PBK)

Strangely, PBK discovered that this Galaxy S21 has a dual-SIM reader inside, despite only officially supporting one SIM card at a time. Unfortunately, he speculates that this feature is probably locked off by the software.

It’s hard to properly compare the Galaxy S21’s innards to other phones at this early point, but it does bode well for repair enthusiasts. While the high reparability score doesn’t mean we recommend taking your phone apart if you don’t know what you’re doing, it should be easy for any good repair shop to sort out any out-of-warranty problems you might have.

Tom Pritchard

Tom covers a little bit of everything at Tom’s Guide, ranging from the latest electric cars all the way down to hot takes on why Christopher Nolan is wrong about everything. Appliances are also muscling their way into his routine, which is a pretty long way from his days as Editor at Gizmodo UK. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.