Inside the DX200, literally!

Intro.

After my review of iBasso DX200, one of the most common questions I received was if its battery as easy to replace as DX50/DX90.  I don’t have experience with 50/90, but aware they were designed like a smartphone with a removable back cover and easy to access replacement battery.  Most of the DAPs don’t have that luxury, and even latest smartphones no longer have easy access to remove/replace the battery.  But some audio enthusiasts still have a fear of what’s going to happen after the warranty expires and the battery performance starts to degrade.

iBasso suggested that if it comes down to that, the users of DX200 will be able to gain access to the battery by removing the back cover without a need to disassemble the rest of the DAP.  I was curious about it, but never had an urge to take it apart.  Unfortunately, my DX200 was part of the initial build batch where some of the early units had an issue with a display exhibiting “ghost screen” behavior.  When I approached iBasso about replacement, they asked me if I’m interested to try to replace the display by myself.  Of course, curiosity got the best of me, so I decided to give it a shot.

As a DISCLAIMER, you got to have some basic tools and preferably some experience dealing with smartphone disassembly/repairs.  I do NOT encourage anybody to take their DX200 apart because you can break it and will void the warranty.  This DIY guide is mostly for entertainment/educational purpose so you can see how DX200 looks inside, though it can also give you an idea how to replace the battery.  And, if you are experiencing the “ghost screen” issue and understand the risk of DIY, it gives you an option to consider trying replacement yourself.

DIY steps.

iBasso designed their DX200 with a display bonded to a single piece alloy frame.  With display on outside, inside you can only see 5 ribbon cable connectors that attach to the printed wiring board (pwb), connecting screen controls, volume control, power and hw playback controls.

To disassemble DX200, first you start by removing AMP module.  Loosen two screws on the sides, but don’t unscrew it all the way to avoid removing screws completely (they are easy to lose).  Slide the module out and lift it off.  Next, remove the side bar with hw playback controls and power button.  Here you will need to remove a pair of torx screws, and the bar comes off easily.  Play/Skip buttons are secured within the bar, while power button comes off, so make sure not to lose it.

Next, remove the volume wheel by pulling it out.  Afterwards, there going to be a few more screws to remove, one around the area of power button, another below volume wheel, and one hidden under the sticker with iBasso logo.   I missed that one at first; just scratch off the sticker to find the screw underneath.  The last two screws are on the frame around AMP module connector.  I’m using iFixit 64 driver kit with jimmy tool (from MassDrop), which has all the necessary bit drivers.

With all the screws removed, now you are ready to take off the back cover.  One side of this cover has tabs keeping it attached to the frame, and all you need to do is to pry it off by using either a thin flat screwdriver, like the one bundled with AMP2 or a small eyeglass screwdriver.  I was using iFixit jimmy tool for this task.  Don’t force anything, just apply a gentle pressure around the edges and it will pop off.

Be careful not to pull the cover completely off.  In addition to a battery inside of it, there is also a wifi antenna.  The 3-wire battery connector is easy to unplug from pwb, just gently wiggle the cable, also assisting with a small flat screwdriver – don’t pull on the wire.  When battery wires are disconnected, you can flip the cover open, with the antenna wire being the only connection in between.  I didn’t disconnect the antenna, just kept it as is.  In this open position, you have easy access to remove and to replace the battery, if you desire.  It looks like the battery is held to the back with some double-sided tape.

Looking inside DX200, you can see the top of pwb board with many components.  I refer to it as the top, but it has components on both sides, so it doesn’t matter which one is the top or the bottom.  Here, you can also see 2 pieces of kapton isolation tape (clear yellow) covering some of the components going under the battery when unit is assembled.  I removed those tape pieces and saved them to reapply later.  Also, there are 4 corner screws holding the pwb down, those have to be removed as well.

The next few steps going to be a little more challenging where you have to remove the original pwb to place it inside of the new display-frame.  With the corner screws removed, the only remaining attachment are those ribbon cable connectors, 3 on the top and 2 on the bottom.  The three top connectors are along the edges with fingers of the connector printed on the ribbon cable.  The pwb has the white plastic connector, while the ribbon connector just slides in/out.

I little trick I found for the top 3 connectors is to slide a little screwdriver underneath and try to pull the connector out with a help of a screwdriver.  The ribbon cable is springy, so have some patience and don’t force pull anything, try to keep the ribbon connector parallel to the pwb connector as you pulling it out.

With top connectors unplugged, now you are ready to lift the pwb off the frame.  Use a screwdriver or something like a jimmy tool to pry the pwb off.  Be careful because you have headphone jack and usb-c connectors inside of the frame cutouts.  There is a little bit of room to slide the pwb inside the frame so you can lift it off without ripping the headphone jack and usb-c off the board.

Once pwb is off, now you have 2 last ribbon connectors attached at the bottom.  Those connectors are very easy to take off, though a real PITA to put back on.  These connectors at the edge of the ribbon cable have a small metal plate, easy to lift off with a flat screwdriver or just a nail.  When those are disconnected, you can completely remove pwb out.

With pwb out, now you have a chance to take a closer look at both sides of the circuit board, see the layout of the components, and appreciate the quality of the design.  After a short break and a few more pictures, I was ready to put everything back together.  The original display/frame had a label with a model name and a serial number, while the replacement one didn’t have it.  Once I had both of the frames side-by-side, I had a split-second panic which one is which until I quickly realized that replacement one doesn’t have a label with s/n.  There is a slight difference is color shade, but hardly noticeable.

Now, the real challenge begins.  Unplugging ribbon connectors was easy, plugging them back in – not so much.  You got to have a lot of patience, a steady hand, and take your time.  The re-connection of pwb goes in a reverse order of disassembly where first you need to attach two connectors on the back.  Keep the frame upright, place pwb angled next to it, and try to grab the ribbon cable connector with two fingers to position and to press into the board.  It’s not as easy as it looks because you need to keep the ribbon cable aligned and pwb close to the frame.

Once those connectors are attached, you can place pwb back into the frame.  While doing that, keep in mind that headphone jack and usb-c connectors should align and go into the frame first, and the volume control piece has to be in place and aligned.  Also, remember the remaining 3 ribbon cable connectors should wrap around the board to come out on top when pwb is inside.  After pwb was in place and secured in 4 corners with screws, now it was time to attach those ribbon cables.  To do this you will need a pair of narrow tweezers because it’s nearly impossible to do it with your fingers since there is not enough room.  While holding it with tweezers, make sure the ribbon connector is parallel to pwb connector and push it in.  The ribbon connectors, all three of them, have a white marker line across, like a stop line indicating when the connector is fully inserted so you don’t have to push it further.

Once those are attached, all you need to do is to flip the cover with a battery, attach battery cable, and put all the screws back in.  When putting the cover back, remember one side has tabs, and those must go in first.  After all screws are tightened (make sure not to over tighten them), you must connect the volume wheel and to attach the side bar with hw playback controls and power button.  The etching on a power button is not symmetric, so if the button falls out and you put it back in, keep track which way the etched symbol is facing you, though doesn’t really matter from a functional perspective, just for the looks.  Slide the AMP module back in, and you are ready to go!

Of course, the real test in when you hit that power button and wait for the screen to lit up – that will be a Pass/Fail indicator if you assembled everything correctly and nothing got broken in the middle of your DIY adventure.  Also, along with a replacement display, iBasso sent me a replacement screen protector which was a breeze to put on the screen.

ibasso_dx200_display-19

Conclusion.

The replacement display I received is their new screen used in DX200 production units, implemented shortly after they discovered an issue with the original screen in the first production batch.  I was told by iBasso, in addition to the new display, they also implemented a new screening test to make sure everything goes through extra checking.  The issue with a screen “ghost swiping” affected only a small batch of DX200 units from the initial build.  The screen is more responsive now in comparison to the original one I had, and I no longer have ghost swiping – gone for good!

Keep in mind, if you have issues with your DX200, the first step is to contact iBasso or the retailer who sold you the product.  This DAP is covered under warranty and you are not required to replace anything by yourself.  As I said before, I do not encourage or recommend taking your DAP apart because you can break it and void the warranty.  I put this guide together for entertainment/educational purpose, to show how easy it is to remove and to replace the battery if you need to, and to show the inner guts of DX200 for those who are curious about it.

 

3 thoughts on “Inside the DX200, literally!

  1. Good job! Looks like the battery will be plenty easy to replace when needed. Not as easy as the DX90, but good enough. My DX80 is on the way for a battery replacement this week – week 54 😦 so this is definitely a concern for me. Ordered and just received a DX200.

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  2. Hi twister,
    Just bought a second hand dx200 by head-fi user who bought it in April. I will be able to test it next week.
    Do you have a serial list of the unit affected by the display problem? How can I verify if I have a unit with problem?

    Thanks
    Ciao

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    1. Sorry, i don’t have such a list and don’t think even iBasso has it. I just know it affected the early production batch and you will know right away after only 10-15 min of use. Without you even touching the display, you will see a ghost swipes between screens, scrolling up/down, playback and skip controls activated, etc. Kind of funny when you see your dap being possessed lol! You don’t see it when display is clean, but as it starts to accumulate fingerprints, ghost swiping becomes more sever.

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