onhub blog

Teardown Of Google’s OnHub Router Reveals Low Repairability

September 15, 2015 - Written By Debarshi Nayak

Google recently ventured to one of the most exciting networking components, launching the OnHub router: a wireless router, with elegant looks and smart-home capabilities. It’s also the first Google Brillo device, being configurable with an app, and promising better signal than current routers in the markets. But it has borne the brunt of a lot of criticism, especially for having a price tag of $200. A recent teardown of the device further proves this, as a lot of cylindrical components are revealed beneath an outer cowling that comes off rather easily, unlike the rest of the router.

As far as the teardown by iFixit reveals, the OnHub sports a Dual-core 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Atheros IPQ8064 processor, with  Micro MT41K256M16a 1 GB DDR3L RAM and 4 GB of onboard flash storage although Google has not specified what this storage would be required for. It supports dual band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz antenna array, with IEEE 802 b/g/n/a. It also consists of a USB 3.0 port with Bluetooth 4.0 and congestion sensing radio and antenna on the top plate of the device. Zigbee has only confirmed smart-home support with a Skyworks 66109 2.4 GHz Zigbee/Smart Energy front end module. The insides are made up of 12 different antennae on a ring-shaped antenna board, with 6 of them performing at 2.4 Ghz and 6 others at 5 GHz, and two on the top of the device, also known as the congestion sensing antenna. This counts up to 14 antennae into the cylindrical device along with a speaker and a light sensor. Each set of an antenna has been paired orthogonally, positioned 120 degrees away from each other, to provide optimal signals. Surprisingly for a Google router, it does not have a microphone. The two black squares house the Bluetooth sensor and the smart home networking protocol. The LEDs on the top of the router are driven by an LP5523 LED driver.

Even if the clips are welcome, taking the device apart breaks a lot of the clips and taking other components down are a nightmare, essentially making the router unrepairable for the general public. Apparently only the speaker module is easily replaceable. Google’s OnHub is a device built for professionals and developers, getting a repairability score of 4 out of 10 from iFixit, essentially rendering it unable to be repaired. According to experts, Google OnHub is a router made for an environment that is still considered to be utopia, and the low repairability of the router hurts its image further. With no repair documentation about the device available, disassembly and reassembly of the router is specifically difficult.