Teardown: iFixit Takes Apart Google’s Nexus 4

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The teardown specialists at iFixit took apart Google’s new LG Electronics-built Nexus 4 this week, discovering a powerful battery that turns out to be the only component in the smartphone that’s difficult to replace.

Google released its latest Nexus-branded smartphone on Nov. 13. The unlocked Nexus 4, sporting a 1.5 GHz, quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and running Android 4.2 “Jelly Bean, quickly sold out after it hit the Web on Tuesday.

Basic specs for the handset are readily available—the Nexus 4 comes in 8GB and 16GB versions, has 2GB of RAM, a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera and an 8 megapixel rear camera, a micro-SIM card tray, measures 5.27 by 2.70 by 0.36 inches (HWD) with a 4.7-inch Corning Gorilla Glass 2-shielded IPS LCD packing 1,280-by-768-pixel resolution, and weighs in at 4.9 ounces. As for connectivity, you’re getting a quad-band EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) and quintuple-band HSPA+ 42 (850/900/1700/1900/2100MHz) phone with 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, but no 4G LTE.

But it’s iFixit’s job to pry apart such devices and deliver the goods on more than just the basics.

What they discovered in the Nexus 4 is a smartphone that’s put together with just four different-length screws, 15 in total and all common types, combined with easily manipulated pressure contents to make the device simple to take apart and the components “a breeze to replace.”

Except for that battery. The teardown team reported that the Nexus 4 has a 3.8 V battery like Apple’s iPhone 5, but the LG-manufactured battery is a 2100 mAh unit unlike the competition’s 1440 mAh battery. And as with recent Apple products, the battery in the Nexus 4 is glued to the case, only removable with “a lot of prying,” according to iFixit.

Also problematic for Nexus 4 users seeking to replace parts rather than a whole phone is the fact that the “glass is fused to both the display and the display frame.”

The iFixit team’s advice: “[D]on’t crack the glass unless you’re good with a heat gun, or you’re fond of replacing the glass, display, and frame together.”

The team was also eager to mess around with the NFC-enabled “wireless charging” billed as a feature on the Nexus 4 but was disappointed that the phone doesn’t ship with a wireless charger.

Once the battery was pried out, iFixit found taking apart the rest of the Nexus 4 to be as simple as turning a screwdriver and gave the device “extra points for repairability” for the ease of accessing the speaker housing. What’s more, the earpiece speaker and vibrator motor are attached to the motherboard with pressure contacts and housed in the front panel, making them easy to access as well.

On to the motherboard, which had the following chips arrayed on it, according to iFixit:

  • Samsung K3PE0E00A 2 GB RAM (with the Snapdragon S4 Pro 1.5 GHz CPU beneath it)
  • Toshiba THGBM5G6A2JBA1R 8GB Flash
  • Qualcomm WTR1605L Seven-Band 4G LTE chip
  • Qualcomm MDM9215M 4G GSM/CDMA modem
  • SlimPort ANX7808 SlimPort Transmitter (HDMI output converter)
  • Invensense MPU-6050 Six-Axis (Gyro + Accelerometer)
  • Avago ACPM-7251 Quad-Band GSM/EDGE and Dual-Band UMTS Power Amplifier
  • Avago 3012 Ultra Low-Noise GNSS Front-End Module
  • Qualcomm PM8921 Power Management
  • Avago A5702, A5704, A5505
  • Qualcomm WCD9310 Audio Codec

The unlocked Nexus 7 is priced at $299 and is available in the United States through T-Mobile.

For more, see our full review of the Nexus 4 and the slideshow above.

By Damon Poeter, PCMag


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