Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

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

surface dial teardown
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.

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.

Pre-order at Microsoft

Editors' Recommendations

Jayce Wagner
Former Digital Trends Contributor
A staff writer for the Computing section, Jayce covers a little bit of everything -- hardware, gaming, and occasionally VR.
The new Surface Go 3 flexes its Windows 11 tablet improvements
Microsoft's new Surface Go 3 comes with a 60% speed boost compared to the previous gen.

During Microsoft's Surface event today, the company is finally pulled the wraps off of its much-rumored, next-gen Surface products. This includes the Surface Go 3, an update to the lightweight 2-in-1 meant to compete with lower-cost tablets like the $329 iPad.

The exterior is nearly identical to the Surface Go 2. The Surface Go 3 retains the same 10.5-inch PixelSense touchscreen display with a 1080p display. The 5-megapixel front and 8-megapixel rear cameras are carried over as well, making it a solid choice for students and families.

Read more
Microsoft’s September 22 event could reveal Surface Duo 2, new Surface Laptop
Microsoft Corporate VP of Devices Panos Panay holding up a Surface Book.

Microsoft is holding an online-only "Fall 2021 Event" on September 22. It is widely believed this Microsoft Event could feature both the Surface Duo 2 and the new Surface Laptop model.

Previous leaks have hinted at an impending launch of those products, but a closer look at the event tease on Twitter also reveals what could be a bonus Surface Pro device. Zooming in on the image, you can see what looks to be a Surface Type Cover keyboard and a slim Surface Pro model with the kickstand extended out. Media invites even mention that Microsoft will "talk about devices and Windows 11."

Read more
Microsoft just teased an incoming Surface product drop, and says to ‘stay tuned’
panos panay

Microsoft just teased an upcoming Surface event via a tweet featuring the voice of Surface Chief Panos Panay. The company added that there's more to come, and is recommending everyone "stay tuned."

Read more