Google Pixel 3 XL Teardown Reveals A Double-Edged Sword For Waterproof Construction

Google Pixel 3 XL
Google's Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL handsets are both solid options in the Android space, with overall strong performance and killer cameras for taking crisp photos. Anyone who buys one of Google's new phones will hopefully never have cause to crack it open for repairs, but should the need arise, how does it fare? A new teardown analysis answers that question in detail.

Both phones are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and 4GB of RAM. Built-in storage checks in at 64GB or 128GB, with no microSD card slot to add more. As for the cameras, there is an 8-megapixel shooter on the front for selfies and a 12.2-megapixel lens on the back. On the XL model, which went under the knife in the latest teardown, there's also a 3,430 mAh battery.

Non-removable batteries are pretty standard these days, as most smartphones have adopted premium designs that seal the battery pack inside (planned obsolescence might also be a factor). If you don't upgrade phones every year or so, attempting a battery swap might be one reason to tear into a handset. You might be able to do that with the Pixel 3 XL, though not without some difficulty.

The surgical folks at iFixIt busted out the heat gun to help loosen the adhesive holding the back panel in place. Google went with foam adhesive, "but it's far more tenacious than the repair-friendly stuff" on last year's models. There's also "quite a bit more adhesive than expected" this go-round. Nevertheless, a bit careful prying provides access to the innards.

"The view inside is pretty much what we expected: a shiny new wireless charging pad, a battery, a board, a couple cameras, and a fingerprint sensor living on the rear cover. Slightly less expected are metal covers over the motherboard, and a SIM tray hidden somewhere underneath the speaker assembly," iFixIt notes.

Pixel 3 XL Battery

There's more adhesive on the inside, though the glue on the battery is of the "relatively repair-friendly stretch-release" variety. Once the phone is open, it's not all that difficult to remove the battery, you just have to be careful not to cut a fragile ribbon cable that is hiding underneath.

The deeper you go, the more delicate it gets. On the plus side, the only screws are standard T3 Torx fasteners, and replacing the battery is doable. However, display repairs are much more difficult than previous models, and replacing any component requires "painstakingly" removing the glue holding the glass rear panel in place, and then gluing it back.

This is the cost of having a waterproof design. O-rings and lots of adhesive prevent liquid from seeping inside and contribute to the phone's IP68 certification for water resistance. That means getting caught in a rainstorm is not likely to ruin your shiny new phone. On the flip side, it also means that repairs are more difficult to perform, should the need arise.

Pixel 3 XL Parts

Most users will find this to be an acceptable trade off. After all, it's probably not often that you find yourself wanting to open your phone and repair or replace a component, whereas water damage is a more pressing concern.

At the end of the day, the Pixel 3 XL earned a 4 out of 10 'Repairability' score.