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Google Nexus 6P: Great smartphone, a nightmare to repair

Google's Huawei-made Nexus 6P is a solid device -- just pray you don't need to replace any broken components from the inside.

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Nexus 6P tear down. Image: iFixit

Google's Nexus 6P is getting glowing reviews but the phablet falls down on repairability, judged by iFixit as one of the most inaccessible handsets it's ever subjected to a teardown.

Google's Nexus phones have generally been ranked by iFixit as fairly cheap to repair thanks to construction that makes it easy to pry them apart and replace individual components. Every Google handset since the Nexus 4 has been awarded a repairability score of 7 out of 10.

The Nexus 5X from LG maintained the standard but the Nexus line's generally good repairability record ends with the 5.7 inch Nexus 6P from Huawei. iFixit found it near impossible to crack open without damaging its easily shattered glass camera cover. For that reason and numerous others, iFixit gave it a repairability score of just two.

"It's very difficult -- although not impossible -- to open the device without damaging the glass camera cover. Because of the unibody design, this makes every component extremely difficult to replace," iFixit wrote.

"The display assembly cannot be replaced without tunneling through the entire phone. This makes one of [the] most common repairs, a damaged screen, difficult to accomplish," it wrote.

The Nexus 6P isn't alone in this year's group of repairability bottom-dwellers. HTC's One M9, like the One M8, was equally difficult to tear apart while the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge's glass body and buried battery landed it with a score of three. Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus meanwhile were relatively easy to repair, earning the pair an equal seven.

A tough adhesive on the rear cover of the Nexus 6P also makes it difficult to get to the battery, though once past this it's accessible, said iFixit. It also found that the main camera is soldered in to place.

The one major upshot of the Nexus 6P is that iFixit found its solid external construction should help its durability.

One surprise finding iFixit discovered after peeling off several layers to reach the Nexus 6P's fingerprint reader -- a circular patch located on the back of the device -- is that it is in fact square, unlike the 5X's fingerprint sensor, which is actually round.

"The circular profile of this fingerprint reader is solely due to the round hole in the 6P's rear case," iFixit notes, speculating Huawei may be planning to use the same reader in another model.