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iPhone 6S offers relatively carefree fixes, repair site says

The latest teardown treatment from gadget-repair site iFixit shows that both of the new iPhones aren't that difficult to repair, though the average user would leave that job up to the experts.

The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus aren't tough to take apart and repair. James Martin/CNET

You likely would never need to take apart your new iPhone 6S or 6S Plus. But the folks at iFixit did as part of their usual teardown testing and found the journey mostly smooth sailing.

The iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus officially go one sale on Friday across the US and other countries but have already seen heavy demand since September 12 via a huge number of preorders, according to Apple. Based on the number of preorders, Apple said it's "on pace" to surpass last year's initial figures when it sold 10 million units of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus during their first weekend of availability (including more than 4 million preorders during the first 24 hours). That was double the initial weekend sales for the iPhone 5.

On Friday, the iFixit team published their new teardowns of both the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. Naturally, if your new iPhone ever went on the fritz, you would likely return it to Apple for repair or replacement. Instead, such teardowns are done to reveal the degree of difficulty tied to a repair. They also provide insight into how a device is assembled and what parts are used.

The team said that the iPhone 6S may look like last year's iPhone 6, but it offers several new features, including Apple's A9 processor, a 4.7-inch 1,334×750 pixels Retina HD display with 3D Touch, a 12-megapixel iSight camera that supports 4K video and a Taptic engine. The 3D Touch feature lets you use a light or heavy finger press to bring up certain actions like previewing content, which Apple calls a "peek," or viewing content completely, known as a "pop." Also built into the Apple Watch, the Taptic engine tricks your finger into believing you're feeling a vibration or other sensation when you tap on an area of the screen.

The new Taptic engine that Apple cooked up for the iPhone 6S takes up a larger area of space below the battery, iFixit said, which could be the reason the battery is slightly smaller than the one in last year's model. After digging its way to the battery, the team found that the capacity is down a bit, likely to make room for the Taptic engine and the phone's somewhat thicker display. The new battery's capacity is 1715 mAh, compared with the 1810 mAh battery in the iPhone 6. Is that a cause for concern? Not according to Apple.

"Nevertheless, Apple says battery life holds steady at up to 14 hours of 3G talk time and 10 days of standby -- the same as in the iPhone 6," iFixit said. "A lot of this is likely due to more efficient silicon."

Switching gears to the iPhone 6S Plus teardown, iFixit found much of the same components and features but naturally with the larger 5.5-inch display. Again, the battery capacity is a bit lower on this year's model, but iFixit dubs it a "modest" downgrade of just 165 mAh to 2750 mAh.

On the plus side, the display assembly on both phones remains the first part to be removed, which makes screen repairs easier. Plus, the battery is fairly easy to access. But the Touch ID cable is paired to the logic board, which makes repairs trickier. Both phones also use proprietary screws on the exterior, requiring a specialty screwdriver to remove. That might pose a problem for the average user, but not to the Apple techs who would be the ones fiddling inside the phones in the first place.

The final verdict: Both the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus earn a score of 7 out of 10 for repairability (10 being the best rating).