Tablet teardowns are losing their spark with repair site iFixit's teardown team. But with Google's new Nexus 7 tablet, the team found their love renewed, thanks to several smart design decisions on Google's part.
While iFixit found plenty to be enamored of, it was the tablet's giant battery that made them want to get physical.
"The Nexus 7 bests the iPad yet again in that this battery is super easy to replace. It's held down with a tiny bit of adhesive and there aren't even any screws involved. It's as if Google wants you to be able to continue using your Nexus 7 long after the battery has died. Imagine that! A tablet that doesn't come with a built-in death clock!" iFixit's M.J. said in a video teardown review on the site.
"The sustainability geek in me wants to hug Google for this," M.J. added. "Can you do that? Hug Google?"
Also to love: The "teardown ninjas," said M.J., didn't have to spend 45 minutes heat-gunning off the display, as they did with the iPad 3. The Nexus 7 instead features a series of clips. A plastic opening tool and some patience, and the team was in, scoring the Nexus 7 significant "repairability" points.
The difference in these tactics yields a single millimeter difference in width between the devices; the iPad is ever-so-slightly thinner.
"We're not all the princess and the pea here," said M.J. "One millimeter is not discernable in day-to-day use."
Those iFixit ninjas were also pleased to find that Googleor rather, really, Asusdecided to use standard screws, instead of proprietary screws; liked the included near-field communication (NFC) chip; and found the included front-facing camera and microphone, making video calls a possibility, "to set the Nexus 7 apart from the pack."
Really, the only complaint the team had was that, as is common, the LCD assembly is fused to the glass, making it necessary to also replace the entire assembly, should the glass break.
While it was rumored that a Google tablet would take aim at the Apple iPad, it's Amazon's Kindle Fire that the Nexus 7 is more a threat to. iFixit points out that the Nexus 7's display offers 216 pixels per inch (ppi), which falls below the 264 ppi on the iPad 3's Retina display but out-does the Kindle Fire's 169 ppi.
Likewise, the battery can last just less than 10 hours, while the Kindle Fire's battery can last just less than eight. The iPad 3, on High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), can run up to 10 hours, while on Long-Term Evolution (LTE), it lasts approximately 9.5 hours.
Overall, Nexus 7 scored a 7 out of 10 for repairability, with the iFixit team citing the tablet's easy-to-remove rear case, those non-fancy screws, the replaceable battery and the ability for a number of components, including the in-out ports, to be easily replaced. The only real bummer was the LCD assembly.
In this way, the Nexus 7 was outscored by the Kindle Fire, which earned a high 8 out of 10. Yet both devices left the iPad 3 in the dust.
The LTE version of Apple's latest tablet was given a repairability score of just 2 out of 10, with the team complaining that the front panel is glued to the rest of the device (versus those Nexus 7 clips), "gobs, gobs and gobs of adhesive" hold everything in place, the LCD is stuck to the front panel with foam sticky tape, increasing the chances of breaking it during a disassembly, and there's no accessing the front panel's connector until the LCD is removed.
On the iFixit blog, Kyle Wiens argued that the matter is a case of consumers' rightsthat laptops are expensive and people should be able to fix and upgrade them.
He added, of the new MacBook Pro, "Even though it packs lots of gee-whiz bells and whistles, we were thoroughly disappointed when we ventured inside. This is, to date, the least repairable laptop we've taken apart. Apple has packed all the things we hate into one beautiful little package."