Nexus 7 Teardown

Teardown

Teardown

Teardowns provide a look inside a device and should not be used as disassembly instructions.

Google announced the Nexus 7 at their I/O keynote on June 27, 2012. Five days later, we tore one down. Some are calling the Nexus 7 a 'Kindle Fire killer,' but can it stack up to the Fire's impressive 8 out of 10 repairability score? We just had to find out.

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Edit Step 1 Nexus 7 Teardown  ¶ 

  • The Nexus 7 is the latest challenger in the ever-expanding 7-inch tablet arena. Let's see what the folks at Google and Asus packed into this little package.

    • 8, 16, or 32 GB storage

    • 1 GB RAM

    • Quad-core Tegra 3 processor

    • 7" 1280x800 (216 ppi) back-lit IPS display

    • 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera

    • Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean"

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • The only ports on the exterior of the Nexus 7 lie on its lower edge. Sorry port junkies, micro USB and 3.5 mm audio are the only gateways you'll find here.

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Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • When we first heard about the Nexus 7, we assumed it was the secret Pentagon program: "A controversial intelligence program…known as Nexus 7, previously undisclosed as a war-zone surveillance effort, it ties together everything from spy radars to fruit prices..."

  • Alas, this Nexus 7 is from the other intelligence agency: Google. Even though it's not a secret Pentagon initiative, it does feel pretty stealthy and versatile for $200.

  • The white back of our Nexus proves it was an I/O original. And what's that? It's running an iFixit app? That's right folks; as of today, you can natively view our repair manuals on your Android device. Download now!

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Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • Plastic opening tools make cracking the Nexus shell like cutting through butter, thanks to its retaining clips around the perimeter of the device.

  • One millimeter.

    • That's the difference in thickness between the 9.4 mm glued iPad and the 10.4 mm retaining-clipped Nexus.

    • That's the difference between being able to open a device and service all of its internals, and not.

    • That's the negligible difference between extending the life of your device through repair, as opposed to tossing it in a landfill.

  • And most of all, nobody will complain about that one millimeter difference in day-to-day use, but the user-serviceability it brings will make all the difference when the device breaks.

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • And so it opens.

  • Though the back cover's dark and light layers remind us of something a Stormtrooper would have in his arsenal, we're more interested in the cryptic markings we found:

    • GPS ANT V2.0 2012/04/20

    • NFC ANT V2.0 2012/05/09

    • WIFI ANT V3.0 2012/05/25

  • We're purely speculating here, but we think these are antennas that were made somewhere between late April and late May.

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • The front case assembly has exactly what we always expect inside a tablet: a big battery.

  • The Nexus 7 has a 4326 mAh, 16 Wh battery that can last 9:49 hours. The Kindle Fire, by comparison, has a 4400 mAh, 16.28 Wh battery -- but only lasts 7:42 hours. Go figure.

    • For further comparison, this time falls right in between the batteries found in the 2012 iPad models, which have 9:52 hours for HSPA and 9:37 hours for LTE. Except that the iPad 3 units are slightly larger at 42.5 Wh / 11500 mAh.

    • Unlike the iPad batteries, this battery was actually quite easy to remove; there was only a small amount of adhesive around the metal frame.

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • Our trusty spudger makes quick work of the copper film found beneath the battery.

  • This could be a heat sink since it seems to be made of a copper alloy, possibly copper-tungsten, or copper-molybdenum. However, it is more likely that it's just an EMI shield.

  • Engadget remarks that the Nexus 7 doesn't get "disconcertingly hot," rather "just a little toasty".

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Edit Step 8  ¶ 

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Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • Pop! Off comes a connector, and the speaker assembly is free.

  • The Nexus 7's speakers might not be quite the caliber of the Q, but there is already talk of speaker docks to come.

  • Although the official Nexus page says there's a speaker in the back, we clearly see a pair of drivers.

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Edit Step 10  ¶ 

  • Although it looks like caution tape, the I/O cable isn't stopping us from digging in deeper.

  • A few more screwdriver twists and the two part I/O set is out.

  • The Nexus 7 I/O set houses a standard 3.5mm headphone jack and USB port.

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Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • The L-shaped motherboard is littered with connectors and screws, but nothing too difficult for our Pro Tech Toolkit.

  • We are guessing that this number is not the date code on expired milk, but rather a part manufacture date. It reads 12 05 04, indicating a May 4, 2012.

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Edit Step 12  ¶ 

  • The Nexus 7 comes stacked with 1 GB of Hynix H5TC2G83CFR DDR3 RAM, the same model found in the MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

  • This isn't the "in case of emergency" kind of seal to break, but we broke it anyway to get the motherboard out.

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Edit Step 13  ¶ 

  • Out comes the 1.2 MP front-facing camera.

  • Much like the Kindle Fire, the Nexus 7 contains no rear-facing camera. It does, however, contain a front-facing one for video chatting.

  • Is the absence of a rear-facing camera that big of a deal for a tablet? That depends. Do you want to look silly taking pictures with it?

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Edit Step 14  ¶ 

  • We are eager to get to that motherboard, but it seems we have another goodie to pull off it first.

  • Seated on the top left of the motherboard is one of the two microphones.

  • One of the new features in Jelly Bean is improved voice recognition. Is it as good as Siri? Will it remind you to put the gazpacho on ice? We would tell you the answers to these questions, but the microphone probably doesn't do us much good in its current state.

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Edit Step 15  ¶ 

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Edit Step 16  ¶ 

  • Here she is, the motherboard:

    • NVIDIA T30L Tegra 3 processor

    • Hynix HTC2G83CFR DDR3 RAM

    • Max 77612A inverting switching regulator

    • AzureWave AW-NH665 wireless module

    • Broadcom BCM4751 integrated monolithic GPS receiver

    • NXP 65N04 Integrated NFC Chip

    • Invensense MPU-6050 gyro and accelerometer

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Edit Step 17  ¶ 

  • On the flipside:

    • Kingston KE44B-26BN/8GB 8GB flash

    • Realtek ALC5642

    • ELAN eKTF36248WS EKTF3624 series 16-bit touch panel signal processor MCU

    • ELAN eKTH10368WS EKTH1036 series touch panel controller

    • Texas Instruments SN75LVDS83B LVDS LCD display driver

    • Hynix HTC2G83CFR DDR3 RAM

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Edit Step 18  ¶ 

  • The frame comes off with the turn of a screwdriver, revealing another copper alloy shielding the LCD.

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Edit Step 19  ¶ 

  • We are approaching the display assembly. Nexus 7, lower your (copper) shields!

  • We have one final cable to remove before we can (hopefully?) remove the LCD from the front glass.

    • Fingers crossed.

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Edit Step 20  ¶ 

  • Here we have the 7-inch, 1280x800 HD display, manufactured by Hydis and designated model HV070WX2.

  • As is becoming a trend, the LCD is fused to the Corning glass. We have not heard if this glass is Gorilla Glass or Gorilla Glass 2, and we have broken far too many displays recently to dig any further.

  • Sadly, this fusion makes the cost of repairing shattered glass much higher, as it will require replacing the whole display assembly—LCD included.

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Edit Step 21  ¶ 

  • Nexus 7 Repairability Score: 7 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair)

  • The rear case is very easy to open, and requires minimal prying effort with a plastic opening tool to remove.

  • All fasteners inside are Phillips #00 screws—no security or proprietary screws here.

  • Battery replacement can be accomplished without soldering—or even a screwdriver.

  • Many components, including the I/O ports, can be replaced independently of the motherboard.

  • Copper alloy sheets provide convenient shielding, but they could tear during disassembly.

  • The LCD does not separate from the display glass, increasing repair costs.

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Phillips #00 Screwdriver

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Comments Comments are onturn off

Excellent write-up! You created a little bit of a buzz with your comment in step 2 that the Nexus 7 includes a usb to hdmi adapter. Could you possibly confirm that this cable is, in fact, included and functions? Every other write-up about the Nexus 7 makes no mention of this cable and actually states that there is no MHL capability.

Thank in advance.

Paco Rabano, · Reply

Can you definitely confirm the HDMI cable issue - its the 1st time I have een it mentioned in any write up of the Nexus 7.

Andrew Kanutin, · Reply

Directly comparing thicknesses between this and the iPad and attributing it to the retaining system alone is probably one of the silliest things I've read on iFixit.

Maybe the result wouldn't help with your agenda so much, but surely an honest analysis would to consider the extra battery (iPad's battery being over 2.6x larger) and display thickness (iPad's display needing a much stronger backlight).

Please figure it out correctly and rewrite Step 4. As it stands it's about as honest as a politician, which I hope is not where you guys are going with this.

Jose, · Reply

Silly perhaps in style... Apple often dismisses the lack of serviceability by claiming that certain assembly methods are necessary to provide the thinnest and lightest package at an feasible cost. Given the spirit of the ifixit’s “Repairability Score”, the rhetoric employed by the author seems perfectly valid to me. I read this section as a challenge to Apple to do better. But I suspect the truth about why Apple does packaging the way the do is as follows: 1. Make it harder for users and competitors to see what's really inside, 2. Make it harder and more expensive to repair the devices, which leads to reason 3. Maximize profits- A very small part of which is reducing manufacturing costs, the major capitalization of this approach comes from encouraging users to upgrade every few years and skip all that DIY fixit stuff. Non-user replaceable batteries are a sure fire way to guarantee the finite lifecycle of any given device.

JdoubleH,

Agreed. Easily the most pathetic and biased tear down I've seen on iFixit. Can't we leave the fanboy wars at all the other sites?

Steve,

Exactly.

Tell me, if iFixit will service my Nexus 7 for $50 TOTAL, then maybe we'll have something to their comments. That $50 includes TWO WAY SHIPPING, PARTS snd LABOR.

Face it - when my Nexus 7 breaks in a year, there'll be a new model. If it's going to cost me $100 in total to fix including shipping (both ways), parts and labor, I could probably just buy a NEW ONE for $100 more.

At $50 completely fixed, it's worth it. People who own old cars face the same problem everytime it needs service - will it cost more to fix than its worth?

As for Apple, it's $79 to extend the warranty to two years. At the end of two years, when it breaks, it's probably worth maybe $200 when it works, and unless iFixit can promise to fix it for under $100 all-in, it'll go in the recycle bin as uneconomical to fix.

Fixing stuff is a hobby - where you can write off skilled labour charges ($50/hr min) since your time is "free". Some people can make a living off it - getting broken gadgets for free, fixing them for minimal cost and selling the units, the profit of which is used to pay off the parts and earn a little on the side (because the broken gadget was obtained for free).

And yes, I use iFixit - not for stuff that's still under warranty or compatible devices can still be obtained, for the old stuff that's not only not made anymore, but no one will repair them that needs to keep working. So old PowerPC Macs, for example that are no longer supported but there's some piece of software that needs to run on them (e.g., 68k/PowerPC "MacOS Classic"). For Intels, well, the decision is a lot harder since there are new ones, the only reason to keep an old one going is something like Rosetta.

Obsolete cellphones too - running PalmOS, Symbian, Windows MObile. iOS and ANdroid - forget it while replacements are easily available.

Worf,

@JdoubleH: Before you say that have you looked at the price of replacement batteries for the iPad? iFixit sells the new battery for $119.95. Even the old iPad 2 battery costs $79.95.

Now, Apple will replace any of them for $99. If you go to a Store it's usually done in minutes too Plus you get a three month's warranty on the repair.

So is this really an issue?

Jose,

I somewhat agree with Jose, though it doesn't change the fact that one is much easier to service than the other.

Gan Solo, · Reply

can we imagine some physical hacks to increase memory size ? (8/16 gb are a bit small to me)

Geoffroy de Corbiac, · Reply

Yeah, is there any way that the storage can be increase to say 32gb+?

Paul Hlinovsky,

I agree, my main concern reading this guide was how I could increase my storage size. 32GB is a good starting point

Tim Zander,

thanks for the teardown.... Does it look like there are any additional I/O that can be hacked and made to work ? For example..... Serial UART .... i2c ..... GPIO .... Ethernet ..... alternate video ???? Again thanks for the information you provide...

99guspuppet, · Reply

The square hole in the PCB (and frame) kinda suggest a rear facing camera was once planned, no? I wonder if you actually could mod the device to have two cameras...

Mads Jensen, · Reply

You're right!. That 24pin connector (CN3) is for the 8MP autofocus camera ASUS originally had in the MeMo 370T.

Can anyone come up with the part number of that camera module or an equivalent with the same interface? I'd love to play with this.

Note that the NFC antenna already was designed to allow the rear camera.

Larry,

Actually, I was wondering about the same thing.

Is it possible to replace the 8GB? To pay $50 for the 16GB version seems to be a bit too much. If there is a way to put a 16/32/64/128 (OK, I stop dreaming at this point ;) ) chip into the 8Gig Nexus 7, this would be great :)

Jini Dough, · Reply

IFIXIT: If you read the comments, let me point out, this is NOT GORILLA GLASS. It is NOT GORILLA GLASS 2. It is a simply, regular-glass (although scratch-resistant.)

And, Yes, I have broken mine already, by a very gentle placing something on top of it...

and yes, i'm buying parts or service from you to fix it.

but let everyone know, it is NOT GORILLA GLASS. Which means, its also not pocket-safe, even if its back-pocket sized.

grifry, · Reply

The hardware looks similar to the assembled PC made in china.

gdharmraj, · Reply

It is Scratch Resistant Cornings Glass. NOT Gorilla Glass

Edward James Bickels, · Reply

About google nexus 7 broken screen glass:

1- How do I replace it? Do you have video?

2- Where do i get new glass? Do you sell it?

VicDesotelle, · Reply

You can replace the glass individually if you wanted, but you need a heating plate, something to remove the LCD from the glass clean, alcohol to clean the LCD, a new backlight because you will probably ruin it replacing the glass, and you need optically clear UV curing glue

It's easier to replace the assembly in one piece

Nick,

The glass is indeed very fragile- unlikely to be gorilla glass.

The last step shows the lcd/digitiser assembly still enclosed within the plastic frame. Has anyone tried to remove the lcd/digitiser from the frame? The only lcd/digi assemblies I have found for sale do not include the frame so the broken screen has to be removed and the new screen fitted to the old frame. Doesn't sound like fun!

steve, · Reply

The glass is definitely not Gorilla Glass, and it is uber thin... I bought a broken N7 to perform evil experiments on and took it all the way apart, it was easy to see why they bonded the glass to the digitizer to the LCD to the frame - they are all so thin that it wouldn't have survived, otherwise.

The broken unit I bought had a cracked screen, so there was nothing to lose by tearing it apart. To get it all out of the plastic frame I was chipping away paper-thin pieces of glass and glue, and at the end I was using q-tips dipped in boiling water to scrub away the remaining glue. It *might* be possible to use heat to soften the glue and remove the whole display in one piece, but it is highly likely that the heat would cause more problems than it solved. If you only want to save the frame and don't care about the other bits, this might not be a problem.

There are probably other solutions involving chemicals to dissolve the glue, but I have no experience doing so.

foobario,

Is there any JTAG interface on this arm board?

imun1ty, · Reply

hello, thank you for the details. i want to know what kind/brand of microphone/speakers are inside of Nexus 7 please.

hana, · Reply

Could you guys please check if that micro-USB to HDMI work?, since no other reviews mention seeing this cable included in their box. Furthermore, I didn't see any MHL chip (like the Silicon Image 9244 MHL transmitter you guys show on the Galaxy Nexus teardown) on the motherboard, then I'm confused on how this cable would work. Thanks!

Thao, · Reply

I believe this is the micro-hdmi to hdmi cable that came with the nexus Q, that's why th square form of the connector, see for your self http://youtu.be/knk8gQ7dBOo ... yeah, too bad :(

walkin mn,

Can you confirm about this usb to hdmi cable...anand tech clearly states that mhl is not supported by Nexus 7.

the, · Reply

"Initially, the Nexus 7 was criticized for its lack of HDMI output. However, the included micro USB-to-HDMI cable solves that problem."

WHAT?!

Rod Fountain, · Reply

This just looks like a mini-USB to USB cable to me...can you confirm it's actually a mini-USB to HDMI cable?

Mowgli, · Reply

Also very curious about the HDMI adapter. Please let us know if it works when you plug it in. First time I've read about one, and it puts the Nexus 7 back on the map for me. I love the MHL feature on my Galaxy Nexus.

William Furr, · Reply

Sorry guys, we got our wires crossed. The cable belongs to the Nexus Q, not the Nexus 7. We removed that picture from the step.

Miroslav Djuric, · Reply

What about the four metal dots on the lower left side? Are they a USB duplicate for future docking stations? The NFC wireless link may also be very capable (will it be fast enough for HDMI?).

heslopharrison, · Reply

heslopharrison:

the four metal dots (often called "pogo pins", which are really the springy pins that interface with such dots) are not USB (more's the pity) but they are for a dock: for charging, and for attaching external speakers.

You can read 5V & GND off the outer pins (which made it seem like USB was a possibility), the inner two don't appear to do anything at first... but if you temporarily ground the right speaker channel, that tells the chip a dock is connected and it starts sending stereo output on the inner two pins.

foobario, · Reply

And that extra millimeter is partly due to the smaller height and width--a larger tablet could be even thinner because the battery could be spread out.

Mike, · Reply

Could you add a tag in the pic for which antenna is located in which spot, pretty please?

Aaron Parish, · Reply

I color-coded it just for you, buddy.

Here's the marked-up image.

Miroslav Djuric,

Is the camera cable a standard cable? Can it be extended? I'm mounting my N7 in my car, and I was curious if I could move the camera (to use as a backup camera) and just run a cable back to the device. The cable would have to be ~10 ft long (small car, but routing).

Thanks for the input!

irishmick16, · Reply

How is your mod doing? I want to place an N7 in my car too but mount it into a double DIN frame (Google ISO 7736). I'm trying to figure out how to get a longer cable for the screen, any chance you have come across one?

Rutjes,

Great teardown, but like the many others before me, I would like to now where one specific part is. Can you update it to show most of us where the STORAGE MEMORY is, not RAM, thanks a lot.

CoolTechieKid, · Reply

It's the first bullet on step 17.

Miroslav Djuric,

That's probably an ALC5624 audio codec? can't find any mention of the part number you used

Eric Jorgensen, · Reply

Any ideas what the part U23 is? That *seems* to be around the area of the magnetic sensor.

Daniel Schmidt, · Reply

Actually, nevermind, it appears to be the same chip as step 14 and also appears to be in the same location as the microphone. Thus, it appears it is the second microphone. I wish they would mark it as such...

Daniel Schmidt,

It appears that the small 8-pin part just to the right of the pink box (TI20 MI60) is the magnetomoter. I wish I could tell what kind it was.

Daniel Schmidt,

Out of curiosity, the emtpy contacts farthest to the right wouldn't be the ones for the hdmi port on the display units at I/O would they? If so, wouldn't it be technically possible to add an HDMI port back in? or is there something more that I'm missing?

If it is possible, could anyone point me in the direction of an hdmi port I can test with?

loofkid, · Reply

Those pins are for (future) docks, and possibly other accessories. (Keyboard-in-a-case, perhaps.) Google hasn't said what they are yet, and I haven't checked them out enough to know for sure, but it looks like the outer pins are power and ground (which makes sense for docks that charge) so I wouldn't be surprised if they turn out to be USB.

The HDMI ports you speak of (on the Nexi from Google I/O) were on the bottom, the other side of the USB port from the headphone jack. In the pics you can see the space in the frame where it goes (under the speaker assembly). Those units had a different I/O cable assembly (Step 10, image 3) that went all the way across.

foobario,

A few days ago some slides from ASUS were leaked. (The original post is down but posts are still up at slashgear.com and pocketables.com.) They show a leather case, a new charger, and a dock that uses the pogo pins on the side of the Nexus. The dock has a micro USB connector for charging/connectivity and a 3.5mm line out jack for external speakers or connecting to a stereo.

Given that it is quite easy to pull data through USB (I have a USB 7.1 surround-sound adapter), this makes me think the pogo pins really are just a USB port.

The articles also mention that there is no HDMI output because including it would have driven the manufacturing cost too high. The only way you are going to get HDMI out of a Nexus is if someone starts selling the equivalent of the full-width I/O Cable Assembly that was in the white Google I/O units (with the HDMI chip on it). The good news is that the yellow cables are identical, so the signal is present at that end, but nobody has released 3rd-party hardware that can use it.

foobario,

Actually, at step 17 in the teardown, there is an unpopulated 24pin connector to the right of the ram chips which I am guessing is the interface for the HDMI/TFcard interface board on the original MeMo 370T device.

If the side 4 pins are in fact just a USB interface, it would need to be a host device in order to connect to an external audio dock. That means (if correct) we don't need to root to get a USB host interface. I'll have to probe the pins :-)

Larry,

Hi! Does anyone know what the 3G chip on the Nexus 7 HSPA+ is? We think it'd be so awesome to enable voice calls on this tablet.

Perfecto, · Reply

Does anybody know if it is possible to get a longer replacement for this cable? I'm looking into tearing down a Nexus 7 to place it into a double DIN frame (Google ISO 7736) to use it in my car as a head unit.

Rutjes, · Reply

Does anyone know what that cable/part is called? I may need to get another one.

Paul Bennett, · Reply

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