Google's Nexus 7 is repair-friendly, teardown finds

Google's Nexus 7 is repair-friendly, teardown finds

Summary: The Nexus 7 may be a millimeter thicker than the iPad 3, but this extra millimeter makes all the difference if you ever need to pop open your tablet to repair or replace something.

TOPICS: Android, Google, Tablets

Is the new Nexus 7 better than the Apple iPad? Overall, no, but when it comes to repairability, the new Android tablet has the iPad beaten hands-down.

iFixit's teardown of the new Android "Jelly Bean"-powered tablet shows that it is possible to make a tablet that's both thin and easy to repair. While the 7-inch Nexus 7 is thicker than the iPad 3, the difference is negligible -- 10.4 mm for the Nexus 7 versus 9.4 mm for the iPad 3.

That extra millimeter of thickness has allowed Asus -- the OEM that makes the Nexus 7 -- to use retaining clips to hold the tablet together rather than the copious amounts of glue that Apple uses to hold the iPad 3 together.

All you need to pop open the Nexus 7 is some plastic opening tools and couple of minutes. Compare this to the iPad 3, where you need plastic opening tools, almost a dozen guitar picks, a heat gun, and an abundance of time and patience. And even with all that at your disposal, there's still a good chance that you'll break the iPad's screen as you try to remove it.

To be fair though, it is worth pointing out that while only a millimeter separates the thickness of the Nexus 7 from that of the iPad 3, Apple has had to cram more into its tablet. Even the batteries are completely different. The Nexus is powered by a 4326 mAh, 16 Wh battery, while the iPad 3 is powered by a beefier 11500 mAh, 42.5 Wh battery pack.

Once inside the Nexus 7, the battery can be replaced without the need of a screwdriver, and all the fasteners inside are Phillips #00 screws.

"All in all, it's light-years more repairable than its Apple counterpart," says Miroslav Djuric, iFixit's chief information architect, "and not too far off its Amazonian cousin."

The difference between the two devices is that the Nexus 7's display glass and LCD are fused together, which means that you have to replace both components should one of the two break, while on the Kindle Fire they are two separate components.

iFixit gave the Nexus 7 a respectable 7 out of 10 repairability score, just slightly lower than the Kindle Fire's 8 out of 10.

The result is a far better repairability score than the miserable 2 out of 10 that iFixit awarded the iPad 3. It's the difference between being able to repair something, and -- well -- throwing it in the trash.

Image credit: iFixit.


Topics: Android, Google, Tablets

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  • Oh where

    Where is DeRsss now with claims of parasitic refraction and screen gluing???
  • I will take the harder to repair iPad any time!

    Those things are for use, not for repair.

    If Google expects their tablet to need regular repairs, I could understand they made sure it will be easier.. On the other hand, it's all plastics and we know from all-plastics laptops what happens in short time.

    Let's just revisit the topic a year from now -- there is already enough evidence how the iPads fare, but nobody knows if this "repairable" Nexus will survive half a year.
    • I agree with you choice that excludes the repairability factor.

      As so many have opined over the years, a tablet acts as an low maintenance electronic appliance. (notice I stated "acts". I have always believed that the iPad and tablets in general are computers albeit computers with minimal upgradeability abilities.) As such, there usually is no need for an end user hardware modification of a modern tablet.

      I have the original iPad still in use along side my current new iPad. I never have had a repair concern with it. And, if I did, Apple's policy is basically to issue a refurbished unit rather than repair the original one submitted for service. (Much like a backyard auto mechanic will return a worn-out or defective water pump and receive a refurbished water pump from the auto parts store seller. The reason a refurbished water pump is sold rather than a brand new unit is obvious. The machined water pump housing usually is not defective on a returned unit and can be recycled at a tremendous cost savings.)
  • Repairability = Exchangeable Parts

    All my mobile devices, of all makes and brands, tend to last longer than their expected lifespan. I take care not to drop them.

    Repairability is just a matter of being able to swap parts. Let's say I have couple of these devices lying around; it's fun to know that I can switch batteries or even the circuit board. I know these things aren't designed to be used that way, but that has never stopped anyone from tinkering with them (the Raspberry Pi comes to mind).
    Tech watcher
    nana admin
  • Is it me or....???

    Did my eyes just deceive me, I saw a white back-cover for the nexus 7 on the photo. So the Nexus 7 comes in white variants too. That's nice.
    Yamada Timur