Pixel 3a Teardown Highlights Some Flaws, Easier Repairs

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Google's Pixel 3a has now been taken apart and has much better repairability than its 2018 premium counterpart, based on a new report from experts at the popular teardown and repair site iFixit. Not everything is as good as it could have been and moderate issues with the device, such as a total lack of waterproofing, do appear to be obvious when taking the gadget apart. Those didn't stop the device from scoring a solid six out of ten.

That score primarily arises from a few noteworthy improvements to how the Pixel 3a is put together and several other factors. To begin with, the entire thing is held together only by T3 Torx fasteners, meaning its a one driver process to take things apart and start removing the "modular" components inside.

The adhesive holding the Samsung OLED display in place is simple to work around too since its a foam -style material rather than something more permanent — or more water and dust resistant. The panel is also said to be thin and lacking in structural support under the hood but it's removed first, making the rest of any needed repairs fairly straightforward. Conversely, the battery utilizes a 'stretch-adhesive' that's easier to remove than what's in place in some smartphones.

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Among drawbacks to all of that is the fact that ribbon cables connecting the above-mentioned modular bits are easy to tear by accident and are effectively everywhere on the inside of this device.

The handset

The basic specs of this handset, provided to the source in its Purple-ish color variant rather than in white or black, have been known since Google first announced it at the annual I/O 2019 event on May 7. The latest teardown provides a deeper insight into the new Pixels.

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The 5.6-inch rated device ships with a fullHD+ (2220 x 1080) touchscreen coated in Dragontrail Glass and laid over a polycarbonate plastic chassis rather than the glass found in the original device. A 3.5mm headphone jack made a return in that frame too, not found in the pricey originals.

The back panel features a 12.2-megapixel f/1.8 aperture camera with phase detection autofocus and optical image stabilization — backed by the same updated software found in the aforementioned premium devices. The forward facing camera, a single snapper instead of the dual array of the Pixel 3, is rated at 8-megapixels with a ƒ/2.0 aperture.

Under the hood, there's a respectable mid-range Snapdragon 670 SoC backed by 4GB LPDDR4x RAM. That's four cored clocked at 2.0GHz and four more clocked at 1.7GHz. Android 9 Pie ships with the gadget out-of-the-box, taking up a minor portion of the 64GB storage capacity.

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A 3,000 mAh capacity 11.55 Wh battery powers everything, charged via a USB-C port tucked into the bottom panel.

How does this stack up to the original?

The original Google Pixel 3, by comparison to its budget-minded sibling, only managed a mark of four out of ten and the reasons for that are numerous. Not only did repairs require a complete dismantling of the flagship, down to the glass rear panel.

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Small details such as the placement of components made repairs a tedious undertaking. For instance, in the original device, the golden flex cables used for squeeze functionality were wrapped underneath the battery itself. That wasn't the case with the Pixel 3a, making taking out the battery and dealing with that piece easier.

The same concept stretches across a significant number of components and possible repairs in the new Google Pixel 3a. That means that even though it isn't resistant to water damage and it isn't the most modern design, it will be among devices that are much easier to repair without paying for it once the warranty runs out.

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Junior Editor

Daniel has been writing for AndroidHeadlines since 2016. As a Senior Staff Writer for the site, Daniel specializes in reviewing a diverse range of technology products and covering topics related to Chrome OS and Chromebooks. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering and has a background in Writing and Graphics Design that drives his passion for Android, Google products, the science behind the technology, and the direction it's heading. Contact him at [email protected]

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