Product Design

Another Phone Bites the Pentalobe Bullet

Another day—another pentalobe screw.

Last week, we told you about how we found Apple’s nasty tamper-resistant screw—better known as the pentalobe—somewhere we never expected: on the Huawei P9. Before the P9, we’d never seen a pentalobe outside of Apple’s ecosystem. But, apparently, when it rains pentalobes, it pours pentalobes. Because we’ve just had another reported pentalobe sighting in the wild—this time on the new Meizu Pro 6.

We first heard about the Pro 6 situation from Chris Burns, who wrote about Meizu’s use of the screw for SlashGear. Burns reports that the Pro 6 also sports twin pentalobes on either side of the charging port. Just like the iPhone.

We haven’t seen the Pro 6 live-and-in-person—but the screws in Meizu’s product renderings sure do look like pentalobes to us.

Pentalobe screws on the Meizu Pro 6
It’s hard to see in this rendering, but those sure look like pentalobes. You can follow this link to a close up of the Meizu screw, for a clearer view of the pentalobe in question. Image by Meizu.

So, why is that little screw so important? The pentalobe is a tamper-resistant screw. Apple has been using the star-shaped security screw since the release of the iPhone 4 in 2010. As our CEO Kyle Wiens explained in Wired, the pentalobe screw keeps “you from opening your phone and impedes recycling it when you finally toss it.”

Like Huawei’s P9, the Meizu Pro 6 has drawn a lot of comparisons to the iPhone. Both phones feature a design and styling that is decidedly iPhone-esque. Right down to Apple’s little star-shaped screw. So unless pentalobe screws are on super sale somewhere, we think that Meizu and Huawei are using the pentalobe primarily because that’s what Apple does.

Huawei says that’s not the case, though. They reached out to us to explain their choice of screw. The pentalobe “was used by Huawei because it is shown to be the highest-quality component of its type, and is more robust mechanically than the same sized screws based on a six-sided (hexagon) design, which is used in most smartphones. Aesthetically, it is also the most attractive.”

Ehhh. In our experience, the pentalobe isn’t very robust. As we’ve explained before—the pentalobe has a shallow draft and rounded lobes, so it’s easy to strip. And sure, a pentalobe is technically better than a hex, but there are lots of screws that are better than a hex—like the Torx Plus, which resists cam-out and has a similar aesthetic to Apple’s star-shaped screw (the torx plus can come with five or six points). Even if the pentalobe is pretty, let’s not forget that it’s widely used to keep owners out of their devices. Which is just mean.

We hope the pentalobe trend stops here.