Rumors of Google’s next-generation Nexus smartphone have been floating in the ether for months. As we approach the phone’s imminent release, only a fortunate few have been able to get their hands on one, including not only we at WIRED, but also the gadget tinkerers at iFixit, who just posted a full teardown of what lies beneath the Nexus hood.
First, the Galaxy Nexus is way easier to open than any Apple phone. Unlike the iPhone, the Galaxy Nexus doesn’t use any esoteric screws to attach the case to its frame, and this allows quick access to the phone’s innards. There’s also minimal adhesive sticking the motherboard to other components, making a full teardown relatively easy. This will come in handy if you abuse your phone enough to warrant cracking open the hood for a look-see.
Removing the Galaxy Nexus’ battery is also a breeze, as snapping off the thin, plastic back panel requires virtually no effort. Of course, this could be a bad thing if you’re prone to random acts of klutziness, but it also means that should your battery die, you’ll be able to swap it for a back-up relatively quickly. And believe us, you’ll want this option because the the Galaxy Nexus’ brilliant screen is a definite power-sucker.
Take note, however, if you’re the pioneering type who likes to swap smartphone batteries in the field: The battery that comes with the stock Galaxy Nexus includes an NFC antenna inside of it (NFC technology powers some of the cool features that come with Ice Cream Sandwich, like Android Beam, for instance). So unless you’re swapping that battery cell out for similar one, don’t expect to be waving your Google Wallet around anytime soon.
Try your best not to crack the Nexus’ screen. It stretches across nearly the entire face of the phone, and is sullied by only the slimmest of bezels, which means you’re getting loads of viewable real estate. Unfortunately, Samsung fused the outer layer of glass to both the super AMOLED display and the display frame. So, if you break the display, you must buy all three new components for replacement.
The screen notwithstanding, the phone has very few parts that directly adhere to each other. In fact, only the volume switch and the vibrator motor are soldered to other pieces, making part replacement infinitely easier. The only other major drawback affects the hardcore tinkering crowd. While there’s little adhesive that connects the motherboard to other parts, accessing the motherboard itself by pulling off the inner case isn’t simple. iFixit’s crew says it involved “lots of careful prying” to loose the parts from its protective shell. It’s frustrating, but not a deal-breaker.
All in all, iFixit gives the phone a six out of ten repairability rating, above average marks hampered mostly by the complications involved when cracking screen glass. So when Google finally drops the actual release date — which may come in early December, as rumor has it — try not to drop the phone itself if you pick one up.