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Careful with that Surface Dial — iFixit teardown reveals it’s a pain to repair

Microsoft’s Surface Studio is a device defined by its premium user experience. It was engineered from the ground up to just feel great, and an important part of that package is the Surface Dial.

Until now it’s been something of a mystery: We knew what the Surface Dial did, and likely how, but thanks to the fine folks over at iFixit, now we can see exactly what makes it tick.

The Surface Dial is a unique peripheral. It expands the typical mouse-and-keyboard user input scheme in a really interesting and refreshing way. Even if you’re not a digital artist, you might find yourself using the Surface Dial for everyday tasks – it’s compatible with the whole range of Microsoft Office products and a growing number of productivity apps. So seeing what’s inside is a little bit like finding out how a magic trick works.

More: The Surface Dial might not be easy to repair, but the Surface Studio is.

The Surface Dial is a bit of a pain to get into once you pull off the magnetic battery enclosure, according to the iFixit teardown. Only after digging into the space between the plastic and magnesium enclosure was the iFixit crew able to get into the Surface Dial’s delicate internals, so it’s not exactly a user-repairable item.

The Dial’s non-user-repairable design became even more apparent as the iFixit team dug further in. Accessing the midframe of the device required taking apart the internal bearing mechanism — a plastic cage containing ball bearings, which gives the Surface Dial something like the feel of a premium speaker volume knob.

Getting to the core of the Surface Dial not only required a series of specialized tools, but would also require drilling out some of the plastic covering up some of the screws which hold the internals in place.

Following the teardown, iFixit gave the Surface Dial a low repairability score of 4 out of 10, and concluded that servicing any of the device’s internals would require a healthy dose of courage and probably a lot of patience.

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