Google Pixel 4 XL Teardown Reveals Intricate Soli Hardware, Average Repairability
We are planning to post a full review of the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL very soon. In the meantime, a thorough teardown of the larger handset has emerged, revealing how Google went about designing its latest flagship from an engineering standpoint. It also reveals a special radar chip related to Project Soli, which is what gives the Pixel phones their interpretative mojo (as it relates to gesture input).
To quickly recap, the Pixel 4 XL sports a 6.3-inch display with a 3040x1440 resolution and 90Hz refresh rate. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor and 6GB of RAM, and wields 128GB or 64GB of onboard storage. For snapping photos, there's an 8-megapixel selfie camera in the front, and dual rear cameras consisting of a 16-megapixel sensor 12.2-megapixel sensor.
The folks at iFixIt obtained an XL model and quickly gutted the phone like a pumpkin ahead of Halloween. To begin the process, they heated up the exterior to loosen the adhesive, which they subsequently discovered is "mercifully thin," albeit "strong nonetheless."
Once they opened up the Pixel 4 XL, things got tricky. Getting to the battery requires pulling out stretch-release adhesives. This is normally an easy affair, except in this case "you gotta pull at a shallow angle to avoid snagging and breaking them, and good luck doing that here." And as with the Pixel 3 XL, users may find that removing the motherboard is necessary for adequate clearance.
That's not the end of it, though. The teardown gurus note "a small but serious landmine lies in wait" underneath the battery, along with a "delicate Active Edge flex cable" that is "just begging to be accidentally sliced" when extracting the battery pack. Fun stuff.
A Look At Google's Soli Radar Chip In The Pixel 4 XLThe rest of the teardown reveals the usual assortment of electronics, except for an interesting bit—the aforementioned Soli radar chip. It's been rumored to be inside the Pixel 4 family, and a teardown analysis confirms it.
The Soli radar chip is the main piece that powers Google's Motion Sense technology in the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. This allows users to wave their hand at the phone and make gestures to play music, skip tracks, and other functions. On a technical level, this works by emitting waves of electromagnetic energy, and then analyzing reflections caused by making motions with a hand.
When all was said and done, the Pixel 4 XL earned a middling 4 our of 10 score for repairability (higher scores are better). It earned points for having standard T3 Torx fasteners and using stretch-release adhesive, but was dinged because "display repairs continue to be difficult," the back panel is "stubbornly glued," and the glass on the front and back doubles the potential for drop damage.