Pixel 3a teardown reveals Samsung-made display, 6/10 repairability score

What you need to know

  • Repairability score of 6 out of 10.
  • Uses a Samsung-made gOLED display.
  • The biggest flaw is the use of many long ribbon cables that are easy to tear.

Ifixit has given the new Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL a repairability score of 6 out of 10. This comes after a recent teardown of the two new midrange Pixel phones, where we also learned a little more about the internals.

The new phones got positive marks in several categories, beginning with an easy to remove display that didn't require the use of a heat gun due to the adhesive that is used. This should make replacing the screen much easier if you happen to crack or damage it.

On the flipside, the phones aren't sealed particularly well, and that's another reason why the Pixel 3a and 3a XL don't include a water resistance rating.

Along with learning that the gOLED display used in the phones is manufactured by Samsung, iFixit also noted that the display is "thin and poorly supported."

Another win for the repairability score is the fact that the 3a only required one T3 Torx screwdriver for all of its screws. That's right, no need to bring a whole toolbox for this job.

Overall, most of the components used are modular, including the USB-C port, which due to its frequent use has a high rate of failure. The batteries are also easy to remove and replace by using a stretch-release adhesive to keep them in place.

The biggest blemish on the Pixel 3a's score came from the use of many long ribbon cables that are easy to tear and often get in the way during the dismantling process.

Throughout the teardown, we also learned more about the similarities and differences between the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a models.

For instance, while the Pixel 3a uses the same 12.2MP rear camera sensor, it is lacking the Pixel Visual Core found in the Pixel 3 to help with image processing. That's part of the reason why, even though the Pixel 3a is capable of creating images just as stunning as the Pixel 3, it often takes much longer for the photos to process.

Another difference iFixit found is small, but you'll definitely feel it. The vibration motor in the Pixel 3a is a small round Linear Resonant Actuator instead of the more premium Precision Haptic Motor found in the Pixel 3 phones. It won't be the end of the world, but you just won't get that high-end haptic feedback in the Pixel 3a like you would in the Pixel 3.

Jason England