With every new device released, it’s tradition for someone (read: iFixit) to meticulously take it apart piece by piece. Sometimes, like in the case of the Pixelbook, an absolute feat of engineering is discovered. Today, a new Pixel 3 XL teardown reveals what Google is hiding beneath the glass surface.
Respected repairers (and destroyers) of tech, iFixit has posted their latest de-construction of the Pixel 3 XL, and an abbreviated Pixel 3 teardown video. Their general assessment of the devices, thanks to their delicate, yet stubborn components and the crackability of the glass back, is that they were not designed with repairability in mind. The most likely component to be damaged, the display, is also the hardest to get to. Overall, they rate the device at 4/10 on their repairability scale, harshly down from the Pixel 2 XL’s 6/10 and the original Pixel XL’s 7/10 rating.
The teardown is more useful than that though, as iFixit took the time to identify every component along the way, offering us a few additional insights into the device. For example, with rumors that the Pixel Visual Core had been updated, the teardown visually confirms that an almost identical Google SR3HX chip is in use. Google previously confirmed this to us at its launch event, with the chipset simply taking on a few new tasks this year. Knowing how much Google is already doing for the Pixel with “just software,” this isn’t much of a surprise.
On the flip side of the board, we get our closest look at Google’s minuscule Titan M security chip (seen below, in red). While we don’t know much about how this proprietary chip works, beyond its claims to verify that hardware and firmware haven’t been tampered with, we do know that it currently protects some of Google’s cloud server hardware.
At the deepest layer of the Pixel 3 XL teardown is the secret to Google’s award-winning display — a Samsung AMOLED panel, and the same Samsung touch controller found in the Galaxy S9+. Following the tremendous number of issues in Google’s Pixel 2 XL last year, it’s not very surprising to see Google switching from LG to Samsung. After all, the company still used a Samsung panel in the smaller Pixel 2 last year, which was free of the larger’s issues. On the other hand, this contrasts earlier reports that Google would still use notched LG panels in the Pixel 3 XL.
Update: iFixit has released a new detail from its Pixel 3 teardown, showing that instead of also using a Samsung display in the smaller Pixel 3, they’ve opted for an LG display.
In his review, our Stephen Hall noted that the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL look, feel, and act like the same device. The only notable differences between the two should be the screen size and the notch (or lack thereof). I’m personally eager to see iFixit’s full teardown of the smaller Pixel 3, and to know if there are any other differences under the surface.