Pixel 4 Comes With Surprise Parts, Doesn't Improve Repairability

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iFixit has now completed a full teardown of Google's Pixel 4 handset, showing that repairability is still a serious weak point. In fact, a rundown of the repair itself, compared to its predecessor seems to show no improvements at all. Like that prior device, the new flagship was given a relatively terrible score of 4 out of 10. It also earned that score in an almost identical fashion.

The company does give Pixel 4 one or two attributes that make things easier, preventing an even lower score. For instance, all of the fasteners inside are the T3 Torx variety. The stretch-release adhesive holding things together is a bit slimmer this time around too. Waterproofing methods make the device harder to get into. But they also limit the occurrence rate of at least one kind of repair.

In terms of negatives to the build, iFixit says that it scores poorly in exactly the same ways as its predecessor.

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That starts with the fact that the glue on the back panel is 'stubborn'. That makes it difficult to get into, to begin with, iFixit says. And all repairs will require that. Repairing the screen requires more work too. That's mostly because the entire phone has to be torn apart to accomplish the task. Glass panels on both front and back also ensure that repairs from drops are going to be more common.

Making matters somewhat worse, the teardown reveals that Google made some things worse. It's placing an even shorter array of cables around the primary camera assembly, for example. That makes accidents during repairs more likely than ever. The same holds for the cables running to the Active Edge sensors. Those are under the battery and will be easy to destroy while prying the battery out.

Mystery components?

Setting aside the poor repairability of the Google Pixel 4, this teardown wasn't all straightforward in terms of predictability either. That's because the device is not only full of known components like the Samsung-built display panel found in previous Pixel devices. There are also a couple of chips that weren't expected.

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The use of a Samsung display is not unexpected but telling. Samsung hasn't used displays with a 90Hz refresh rate in its own flagships. But there is one in the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL.

However, Samsung also supplied a second RAM component in Google Pixel 4.

The RAM, marked as Samsung K4U4E3S4AF-HGCJ, also features a "P" marking. That was initially thought to serve Google's new Pixel Neural Core chip. It would make sense to back up the new chip with extra dedicated memory. But digging beneath the RAM actually revealed an unidentified integrated circuit (IC).

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The component is only marked with "S4LV001A01 NGWF6YY5 1930" and its purpose isn't immediately apparent.

Pixel 4 repairability is not good, leave it to the experts

Everything indicates that unless a user has years of experience, repairs should be left to professionals. Google built the gadget so that it doesn't require a lot of tools to fix. It hasn't gone out of its way to ensure there aren't a lot of ways to mess up repairs either.

Just like the Pixel 3 series, Google offers same-day Pixel 4 repairs at every uBreakiFix location though. So it is at least offsetting the challenges it continues to create. Those repairs vary in price, generally based on how difficult the repair is. There's also variance in how long repairs will take based on a number of factors.

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That's still probably going to be the better option instead of effectively replacing the entire device if something goes wrong during a self-repair.

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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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