Nintendo 3DS Gutted, Scores Low on Repairability Scale

Paul Lilly

When it comes to electronics, we love good old fashioned teardowns just like serial killers can't enough episodes of Dexter. The tech equivalent of Showtime's pathological superstar is iFixIt, the online source for do-it-yourself repair guides and parts. Their latest victim is Nintendo's 3DS handheld console, which they expose not only for our voyeuristic pleasure, but also to learn how easy or difficult it might be for the average Andy to perform in-house repairs.

Turns out it's pretty difficult on the 3DS. When the teardown was complete, iFixIt gave the 3DS a 5 out of 10 "repairability score, where a 10 rating is easiest to repair. On the plus side, the battery is easily swappable, something that can't be said about Apple products, and there aren't any proprietary Tri-Wing screws to, uh, screw with, just Phillips #00. But the display's cables are "routed in such a way that it makes them quite frustrating to remove without ripping them off, and just as difficult to re-seat properly during device reassembly." There's also a bunch of little components to keep track if while you're mucking around inside, and most connectors are ZIF. On top of it all, the headphone jack and charging connector are both soldered to the motherboard, so it helps to be good with a soldering iron in case you inadvertently tear them apart.

Outside of the battery, most users won't have any reason to go crawling inside the 3DS. However, it's not out of the realm of possibilty that you'll end up with a busted LCD screen once the warranty is up, the result of an accidental drop or just wear and tear over time. Given how tricky it can be to navigate parts inside the 3DS, should you find yourself in that position you may want to consider going the professional repair route if you're not mechanically inclined.

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