iFixit Tears Apart a Windows Phone, Finds Nexus One Hardware

The gadget teardown team at iFixit has taken apart the HTC Surround, a device based on Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system, and found that the Surround hardware recycles parts HTC used to build the Android-based Nexus One. 

"We started off the new year by doing a 'something completely different' teardown - a Windows 7 phone! At least, that's what we thought initially," the iFixit blog stated Tuesday. "As it turns out, we've already seen a lot of this hardware in the Nexus One. In fact, five of the major chip packages on the Surround's motherboard are identical to the Nexus One, and the sixth (Samsung NAND+SDRAM) appears to be just a revised chip found in Uncle Nexus. Hey if it ain't broke, why fix it?"

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The two phones are so similar that iFixit goes on to say "The Nexus One - err, the HTC Surround - is a very solid, capable phone that will undoubtedly please its users. Still, we're a bit underwhelmed that HTC chose to put year-old hardware in it, especially since dual-core phones are coming right around the corner."

HTC has gone all-in on both Android and Windows Phone 7, manufacturing numerous devices for each operating system.

Most people won't want to risk their own smartphones for such a project, but the iFixit team's job is to tear them apart and inform consumers and technology enthusiasts about what's running inside their devices.

Highlights found by iFixit include a partially hidden MicroSDHC card, which is shielded by a piece of tape. If you take the tape off, it should be possible to replace the 16GB storage card with something bigger, but such a process would apparently void the warranty.

IFixit also lists six chips used in the HTC Surround that are identical to or newer versions of motherboard components found in the Nexus One. They are as follows:

• Qualcomm RTR6285 multi-band UMTS/EGPRS transceiver with integrated GPS

• Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250 1GHz RISC microprocessor with embedded DSP

• Samsung KA100O015E-BJTT 512 MB NAND Flash + 512 MB SDRAM

• Qualcomm PM7540 power management IC

• Skyworks SKY77336 power amplifier module

• Audience A1026 voice processor

Taking the phone apart is not advisable for the average user. IFixit says it "gave the HTC Surround a mid-pack repairability score of 5 out of 10," which means it's easy to remove the rear case to replace the battery, but "you'll have to void your warranty to take anything else out, and it's very difficult to access the front panel and LCD if you'd like to replace it."

Here are some more highlights from the iFixit teardown:

• "The Surround has two Nexus One-esque motherboards that are attached with a large ribbon cable spanning the gap between them. This is not much of a surprise, as HTC is the manufacturer of both the Nexus One and the Surround."

• "The hefty metal slider mechanism should hold up to years of opening and closing the speaker grille."

• "Like the Nexus One, the Surround utilizes dual microphones (working in conjunction with the Audience A1026 voice processor) to cancel background noise during phone conversations."

• "The motherboard interconnect cable is sandwiched between the many layers of the upper motherboard, much like on the Nexus One. This technique eliminates the space requirements for thick connectors and sockets, making the final connection much thinner."

• "Metal plates with strategically placed holes are soldered to the front of the Surround's two speakers to direct the sound out of the fancy speaker grille, and not into the phone."

The HTC Surround is sold by AT&T and was called a "solid Windows phone" by PC World, which said the phone is "built to play music - out loud."

Follow Jon Brodkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jbrodkin

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