Greenpeace slams Apple, Samsung tech for poor repairability

The pressure group teamed up with iFixit to grade a select 40 products from a variety of manufacturers for repairability -- and chide some big names for their low scores.

The hard-to-remove yet breakable back glass of the Galaxy S7 and S8 earns Samsung some demerits.
Josh Miller/CNET

Environmental activist organization Greenpeace has teamed up with repair gurus iFixit to rate a selection of 40 phones, laptops and tablets for the ability to make common repairs that might extend their lifespans, keep them out of landfills and make it possible to easily recycle the parts. Popular products from Apple, Samsung and Microsoft did not fare well. (Download the PDF of the report here.)

The devices were graded on four areas: battery replaceability, display replaceability, tools required and availability of spare parts. 

Unsurprisingly, modular phones were more highly rated; sadly, no one really wants them. And the iPhones actually weren't bad -- it's the iPads and MacBooks that drag down Apple's overall reputation. 

But Samsung's latest phone, the Galaxy S8, and the Microsoft Surface products that were tested look like big hunks of unrepairability. 

On the flip side, the HP and Dell laptops and two-in-ones it looked at were some of the best. This is also what you'd expect, since the models chosen are targeted at enterprise users who have IT departments who want to be able to fix them.

In conjunction with the report, Greenpeace entreats Samsung, Apple and LG to "give us repairable and long-lasting products!" 

In a statement, a Microsoft spokesperson said:

"As is the case with many products, Surface is built by professionals and is intended to be serviced by professionals … Surface is comprised of high-quality components, and we stand behind our warranty and the cutting-edge materials used to create these unique and powerful devices."

Greenpeace might have blasted Apple when it comes to repairability, but the group has applauded the tech giant's efforts in other areas. Apple in April vowed to end mining and use only recycled materials in its products, which Greenpeace said "puts it far ahead of others in the sector."

Apple said Tuesday in a statement: 

"Highly-integrated design allows us to make products that are not only beautiful, thin and powerful, but also durable, so they can last for many years. When repairs are needed, authorized providers can ensure the quality, safety, and security of repairs for customers. And when products do reach end of life, Apple takes responsibility for recycling them safely and responsibly.

We're continuing to invest in ways to recover materials from our products, like Liam, our line of disassembly robots -- and encouraging our customers to return products through Apple Renew, our recycling program. We're also pioneering a closed loop supply chain where products are made using only renewable resources or recycled material to reduce the need to mine materials from the earth."

Samsung didn't  respond to a request for comment.

Update, 1:20 p.m. PT: Added statement from Microsoft.
Update, 3:25 p.m. PT: Added statement from Apple.

CNET's Shara Tibken contributed to this report.