Pixel 4 XL Teardown! – Why does Google’s Phone Snap?

by birtanpublished on September 10, 2020

The Pixel 4 XL. Today we're going to review Google's iPhone clone from the inside. We'll talk about hardware and see why this phone decided to snap in four places along the frame during my durability test. It should be an interesting video. Let's get started. Back in 2016 and 2017, I awarded the Google Pixel as the most reparable smartphone of the year, 2 years in a row. Since you could replace the screen in just a few minutes.

That is not the case this year. Of course with a bit of heat and gentle prying, the back glass does come off super easily. But the internals of the Pixel 4XL are a labyrinth of different sized non-common screws and strange metal brackets that are hard to keep organized. The rear glass panel is still connected to the motherboard with a ribbon cable. But before I can disconnect that, I need to unscrew the four T4 screws holding down the battery connector. Once the battery's unplugged it'll be safe to move around inside of the phone. There

Are 2 more screws holding down a small bracket over the back glass ribbon cable. I'll remove those and then unsnap the camera flash ribbon cable like a little Lego. The back glass panel can now be released. You can see the ribbon cable going up to the dual LED camera flash and the top laser auto focus. Here on the glass panel we see another unique thing – the wireless charging NFC pads are attached directly to the surface of the glass panel. In most smartphones, the wireless charging

Still rests inside of the phone after the glass is removed. But that's not the case with this pixel 4XL. The wireless charging is a giant sticker applied to the glass. This might look cool for the clear version of the phone. And the same thing goes for the NFC up here at the top. They both still show the copper coloring which I like. I think we should try it. To make any glass back phone clear you just have to remove the colors from behind the

Glass. The glass itself isn't colored like a stained glass window would be. Phone just use giant color stickers or psychedelic paint. The Pixel 4XL has a clear laminate layer to hold the glass together if it's ever cracked or shattered. But then the colored portion is more of a scratchable powder. Kind of like a giant scratch off lottery ticket. Remember, making your phone clear will void the warranty, so if you ever do attempt this, probably wait till your phone drops in value…which for the Pixel is like 2 weeks.

I'll position the glass on top of the stickers again. Their contact pads lined up with the motherboard. And there you have it. This is what a clear Pixel 4XL would look like. Not quite as cool as the Pixel 3 from last year. It looks kind of like the Pixel 4 has let himself go a bit. Don't do drugs, kids. Going deeper, there are 3 more screws around the metal plate above the battery. All different sizes so I'll get those set off to the side and keep them organized. We have 4 more screws

Holding down the metal plate above the screen ribbons. And another plate with screws sitting up here in the corner. For those of you keeping track at home, this is the fifth metal plate we've removed. Pixel is definitely not winning any repairability awards this year. The next step is to unsnap…snap…snap…snap…snap…snap….snap…snap…snap…snap…snap like a little Lego. Then we can pull out the loudspeaker which has 3 screws of its own. Things are pretty intense in here. I've lost track of how many screws there are at this point. The good thing about the bottom loudspeaker

Though is that it does have the little sound dampening balls inside. Remember these tiny balls help small speaker boxes sound bigger than they actually are by dampening the air as it moves inside of the box. I'll remove the SIM card tray which is normally step number one. And then after removing 3 more screws I can pull away the top camera sensor array. This includes the 8 megapixel, 1080p selfie camera, along with the infrared dot projector and face ID stuff. Remember,

This face unlocks works even when your eyes are closed…which is super sketchy. Strangely enough, the dual rear cameras do not have screws of their own. They are jiggly inside of the phone and are only held in place by brackets on the exterior camera lens. The motherboard has one last screw holding it down into the frame and then the whole thing can lift out, revealing a little pink dab of thermal cream stuff on the back for heat dissipation. There's not a whole lot going on here in the heat removal department.

With the motherboard gone, the rear cameras can come out. We have a 12 megapixel normal camera on the left and a 16 megapixel 2x optical zoom camera on the right – both of which have optical image stabilization. Now for the battery. Lately it's been pretty important that batteries can be removed. Batteries don't last forever and it's nice to be able to replace them after a few years to extend the life of your phone. Google has added pull tabs underneath the battery, but these are fairly difficult and don't make any cool noises.

Even after breaking all three pull tabs, I was able to remove the battery from the phone so it's not too bad. If you take a close look it's pretty easy to see that Epstein didn't kill himself. The battery is 3700 milliamp hours and can fast charge at 18 watts. Now, you know, when people are asked what they would like improved on their next smartphone, I would say most mention battery life, more storage, or better cameras. So Pixel went ahead and added some radar up

Here next to the front earpiece speaker. The speaker itself is very large and has the same foam and balls inside, so there should be some pretty good sound coming out of it. The radar sensor is here in the top corner, super small, and can detect objects in front of the phone by emitting little waves of energy and seeing what bounces back. It uses those waves that bounce back to try to decide what gesture your hand is attempting to make. Personally I haven't tried it so I'm not going to knock it yet, but I also don't think I would ever

Use it a whole lot. I would definitely take a radar detector though. I feel like that would be much more useful than radar. The charging port ribbon is down at the bottom next to the rectangular vibrator and has 3 tiny Lego-style ribbon connectors of it's own. The USB-C port does have a large water damage indicator sticker on top with a red rubber ring to try to keep water out. And it's ip68 water-resistant tested at one and a half meters.

Another feature you probably totally forgot even existed is the ability to squeeze the phone and program that squeeze as a button. There are thin strips of electronics along each side of the frame that can sense minut variations when you grip it hard with your hand. I bet the sensors were real confused during my bend test. Speaking of which, when a smartphone is manufactured they start with a solid block of aluminum. Then add plastic for the antenna lines and finish milling out the shape of the phone after the plastic is

Dropped in. Looking at this Pixel 4 XL, we can see that the back of the interior under the screen is aluminum, but the interior sidewalls are entirely plastic on every single side with just that thin layer of aluminum on the outside covered by a thick layer of paint. You can see how thick the plastic is when the phone is flexed. And that crack I made during the durability test is exposed. The Pixel 4 is made with less metal than other phones and that's probably why it broke.

The good thing about how many smartphones are out there these days is that there is something for everyone. Yeah, the Pixel 4 XL isn't for me, but it might fit with the needs of someone else perfectly. Everyone uses their phone for different things. Of course, I do think that Google should put a bit more effort into next year's phone because they were the ones who started this whole Android thing and they should be the ones on top of the game.

I put the motherboard back into place making sure that there weren't any ribbon cables stuck underneath it. Then I put the front sensor array with the front camera back into place. It's nice that everything is so modular. But it does make repairing the Pixel 4 much more difficult. I tried to put the bottom loudspeaker back into place and then noticed that we were still leaking balls. There were a lot of those in there. I'll dump them out and then put the battery back into place along with the 4 large metal plates. I'll add some

Adhesive to the back panel later to secure it to the phone. Once that glass panel is plugged back in, the whole thing is ready to go and everything still works. And there you have it. The Pixel 4 XL reviewed from the inside. Do you like what Google has done with their new phone? Let me know down in the comments. I'm curious to hear what you have to say. Which Pixel do you think was the best? Come hang out with me on Instagram and Twitter. And thanks a ton for watching. I'll see you around.

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