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The Samsung Galaxy S21 series are the latest flagships to launch this year and the cheapest base model features a plastic back, just like the Note 20. Although it doesn’t feel as premium as the more expensive Galaxy S21+ and S21 Ultra, it appears that it’s actually the easiest to repair in the new S-series.
YouTube PBK Reviews has posted tear down videos for the flagship trio which reveals some interesting findings. Apparently all S21 devices are dual-SIM ready but Samsung has disabled the second-SIM pins and swapped the SIM-tray for a single-SIM design on the single-SIM version. He reckons it might be possible to convert a single-SIM Galaxy S21 to dual-SIM by flashing the firmware and swap the SIM tray to a double-sided design.
Most of the modular components can be easily removed and the boards are connected via flex cables. According to the YouTuber, the S21 series uses a 3D graphene instead of using vapour chamber or copper pipes to cool down the processor. For the US market, the Galaxy S21 with a Snapdragon 888 comes with mmWave 5G antennas but this is missing on the international Exynos 2100 version.
One of the biggest challenges is battery removal as it’s secured with adhesive which will require a heat gun. The battery replacement could have been easier if Samsung uses pull-tabs on the battery. It is also interesting to note that the individual camera lens cover are actually separate from the back plate and you could replace each cover which are attached by glue.
Overall, the S21 is given a reparability score of 7.5 out of 10, while the S21+ is rated 7 out of 10. The S21 has a slight advantage due to its flexible plastic back which make it easier to take out without the risk of damaging it.
For the top-of-the-line S21 Ultra, they gave it a lower reparability score of 6 out of 10. Apart from having a larger glass panel for the rear, the cable for the display is permanent and non-detachable. This makes it harder to fix if the screen needs to be replaced.
You can check out the teardown videos for all 3 models below: