‘Failing the Fix’ scorecard helps you buy a repairable laptop and cellphone

Grading laptop and cell phone companies on the fixability of their products

Updated report helps you buy products that last. Americans are holding onto their phones for longer than ever, making repairability an important concern, but a high price doesn't necessarily mean a fixable device

Alec Meltzer | TPIN
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We rely on our cellphones and computers to work, learn, stay connected and much more. When your device breaks, you need to be able to fix it for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, many phones and laptops on the market are built to be difficult to fix, so they become essentially disposable.

This year’s updated “Failing the Fix” scorecard from U.S. PIRG Education Fund calculates a repairability score for the most popular cellphone and laptop brands. We give good grades to manufacturers that are designing devices to last and bad grades to those that are failing the fix.

Scorecard that ranks laptop and phone brands for repairability.

Just as last year, Dell received the highest score for laptops with a B+. Asus also received a B+, while HP received a B and Acer and Lenovo each scored B-. Microsoft scored a D+ and Apple got a D-. For cellphones, Motorola continues to lead with a B+, followed by Samsung with a C, Google with a D+, and Apple with a D, up from last year’s F. Apple placed last in both categories.Photo by Staff | TPIN

What did we find?

  1. Manufacturers are moving in the right direction—slowly.
    Overall, this year’s improved results show the industry is doing better, but not yet good enough. Higher grades suggest that repair scores incentivize manufacturers to design products that last, which is a win for the planet and consumers who want repairable devices.
  2. A high price, doesn’t mean a repairable device
    Our scorecard research found that despite being more expensive, Apple MacBooks are twice as difficult to open up and repair as Dell laptops. We also found that Chromebooks are more affordable, but less repairable than other laptops.
  3. Manufacturers need to improve access to parts and service information.
    There are a variety of ways manufacturers gain and lose points on their product scores. Some products are physically repairable, according to their disassembly scores, but the pricing or availability of spare parts greatly lowers the final score. For example, Apple has increased the physical repairability of their phones by 67% over last year, but their overall score is held back due to having the lowest score for the price of their parts. Manufacturers should increase access to parts and service instructions to improve their scores and take advantage of fixable designs by creating robust repair markets around their products.
  4. Companies lobby against Right to Repair reforms, which would help you fix your stuff.
    Requiring companies to provide access to parts and service instructions, as well as any necessary software tools, would improve repair scores across the board and result in more products getting fixed, avoiding electronic waste. By passing Right to Repair reforms at the state and national levels, we can ensure you can fix your stuff. Unfortunately, most companies are still losing points for lobbying against Right to Repair.

Just as last year, Dell received the highest score for laptops with a B+. Asus also received a B+, while HP received a B and Acer and Lenovo each scored B-. Microsoft scored a D+ and Apple got a D-. For cellphones, Motorola continues to lead with a B+, followed by Samsung with a C, Google with a D+, and Apple with a D, up from last year’s F. Apple placed last in both categories.

Failing the Fix Report Cover

Download the full Failing the Fix report.Photo by Alec Meltzer | TPIN

Why does this matter?

You have a right to know if the expensive tech you buy is fixable, especially because, unlike the old saying, you don’t always get what you pay for — at least when it comes to repairability. You should be able to buy products that will last, be repairable when they break, and are made by companies that respect your Right to Repair.

  1. It saves the environment
    The prevalence of unfixable stuff is a mounting problem for both consumers and the planet. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that electronic waste is now the fastest growing part of our domestic municipal waste stream.
  2. It saves you money
    An earlier PIRG report found Americans could save a combined $40 billion a year if we were able to repair instead of replacing our products.
We're excited to see manufacturers moving toward more-repairable designs after many years trending in the wrong direction. Manufacturers have even started asking us for repairability advice—and better yet, acting on it. We see this scorecard as evidence both that the repairability bar has been raised and that manufacturers can't rest on their laurels. Dr. Elizabeth Chamberlain
Director of Sustainability for iFixit.

How are the grades calculated?

Since January of 2021, France has required companies to provide detailed information about how fixable certain products are, and to post an overall repair score at the point of sale, much like the U.S. Energy Star rating that measures energy efficiency. Our second edition of “Failing the Fix” reviews the detailed repair information for 330 devices and tracks changes in grades since our last report.

To calculate a final grade we use the five categories from France’s repair scores, as well as our own category measuring if the company is lobbying against your Right to Repair. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Documentation: Does the manufacturer provide free service manual information to consumers?
  • Disassembly: How easy is it to open and repair the device? Our grade weighs this score more heavily than the others because of its importance.
  • Parts availability: Is it easy to find replacement parts?
  • Parts pricing: Are spare parts affordable?
  • Device-specific category: Several factors that are specific to laptop or phone repairability such as the availability of software updates.
  • Corporate lobbying against Right to Repair: We remove points if the manufacturer is a member of trade organizations that lobby against the Right to Repair such as TechNet or Consumer Technology Association (CTA), or if they lobby directly.

Which brands are repairable and which are failing the fix?

Microsoft Laptop Repair Scorecard
Scored devices: 6
Average French score (out of 10): 4.6
Average disassembly score (out of 10): 7.2
Record of direct lobbying: yes
Member of TechNet: no
Member of CTA: no

Final grade: 4.94 D+

Photo by Staff | TPIN

Dell Laptop Repair Scorecard
Scored devices: 42
Average French score (out of 10): 7.3
Average disassembly score (out of 10): 9.6
Record of direct lobbying: No
Member of TechNet: Yes
Member of CTA: Yes

Final grade: 7.93 B+

Photo by Staff | TPIN

Lenovo Laptop Repair Scorecard
Scored devices: 40
Average French score (out of 10): 7.5
Average disassembly score (out of 10): 6.8
Record of direct lobbying: No
Member of TechNet: No
Member of CTA: Yes

Final grade: 6.88 B-

Photo by Staff | TPIN

HP Laptop Repair Scorecard
Scored devices: 56
Average French score (out of 10): 6.7
Average disassembly score (out of 10): 8.5
Record of direct lobbying: No
Member of TechNet: Yes
Member of CTA: Yes

Final grade: 7.11 B

Photo by Staff | TPIN

Apple Laptop Repair Scorecard
Scored devices: 9
Average French score (out of 10): 6.2
Average disassembly score (out of 10): 3.5
Record of direct lobbying: Yes
Member of TechNet: Yes
Member of CTA: Yes

Final grade: 3.34 D-

Photo by Staff | TPIN

Acer Laptop Failing the Fix

Acer Laptop Repair Scorecard
Scored devices: 32
Average French score (out of 10): 6.4
Average disassembly score (out of 10): 7.7
Record of direct lobbying: No
Member of TechNet: No
Member of CTA: No

Final grade: 7.02 B-

Photo by StafF | TPIN

ASUS Laptop Repair Scorecard
Scored Devices: 55
Average French score (out of 10): 6.8
Average disassembly score (out of 10): 9.2
Record of direct lobbying: No
Member of TechNet: No
Member of CTA: Yes

Final grade: 7.73 B+

Photo by Staff | TPIN

Samsung Cellphone Repair Scorecard
Scored devices: 37
Average French score (out of 10): 7.9
Average disassembly score (out of 10): 3.9
Record of direct lobbying: No
Member of TechNet: No
Member of CTA: Yes

Final grade: 5.60 C

Photo by Staff | TPIN

Google Cellphone Repair Scorecard
Scored devices: 5
Average French score (out of 10): 6.7
Average disassembly score (out of 10): 5.8
Record of direct lobbying: Yes
Member of TechNet: Yes
Member of CTA: Yes

Final grade: 4.47 D+

Photo by Staff | TPIN

Apple Cellphone Repair Scorecard
Scored Devices: 9
Average French score (out of 10): 6.6
Average disassembly score (out of 10): 6.6
Record of direct lobbying: Yes
Member of TechNet: Yes
Member of CTA: Yes

Final grade: 4.20 D

Photo by Staff | TPIN

Motorola Cellphone Repair Scorecard
Scored devices: 39
Average French score (out of 10): 7.0
Average disassembly score (out of 10): 7.4
Record of direct lobbying: No
Member of TechNet: No
Member of CTA: No

Final grade: 7.20 B+

Photo by Staff | TPIN

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What do we recommend?

Manufacturers are improving but are not yet good enough.

Repair scores like this provide important information for consumers so they can make the best purchasing choices for their budget. It’s ridiculous to spend hundreds of dollars on expensive tech which is disposable.

The Right to Repair coalition, which includes PIRG, iFixit and Repair.org, has been calling for better access to the parts, tools and information needed to repair modern devices.

Companies should do more to design their products to last, and lawmakers can help by passing Right to Repair bills to ensure that we can fix our stuff.

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Author

Lucas Gutterman

Director, Designed to Last Campaign, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Lucas leads PIRG’s Designed to Last campaign, fighting against obsolescence and e-waste and winning concrete policy changes that extend electronic consumer product lifespans, hold manufacturers accountable for forcing upgrades or disposal.

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