It’s no secret that Motorola/Verizon set up a convoluted procedure to get your Xoom upgraded to full “4G”* speed: spend X hours backing up your data, optionally encrypt and reset your Xoom, ship it to Motorola, and then wait up to 6 business days to get it back. While this procedure still beats a day at the gulag, we’re quite curious why it has to be so convoluted — especially after we snuck a peek inside our unit.
It looks like the Xoom was specifically designed with this upgrade in mind. We had to fully delve into the device to find all the clues, but we believe this is the procedure Motorola will perform on your behalf:
- Use a T5 Torx screwdriver to unscrew two screws on the bottom, and then slide the back panel to expose a mysterious circuit board that immediately becomes accessible. In fact, there are retaining clips on the back of the rear panel that prevent it from sliding any further (which of course we immediately circumvented).
- Disconnect two antenna connectors, unscrew the two Torx screws holding the board in place, and swap it out with a 4G LTE board.
- And… That’s it. Here is a picture of the dummy board we found in our Xoom, which we believe currently acts as a routing path for the antennas.
A seasoned technician can perform this swap in less than 10 minutes. Heck, a donkey could probably pull it off in less than two hours. We have no idea why a customer couldn’t just go to a Verizon store and have on-site representatives enable 4G on the spot, just like they’re able to transfer mobile contacts and perform other activation procedures.
Aside from the upgrade goofiness, the Xoom is a fine tablet in terms of assembly. Its repairability score was 8 out of 10, with slightly unfavorable marks given for a total of FIFTY-SEVEN screws by our count. That’s a lot for a full-fledged laptop, let alone a 10″ tablet. Yet, those screws (of the T5 and T7 Torx variety) allow just about anyone to take apart the device, but they may have Popeye forearms by the time they’re done. As added bonuses, most components attach via individual cables, and the LCD easily separates from the glass — meaning that part replacement cost shouldn’t be outrageous.
- A dummy SIM card is included in the Xoom, with the inscription “Replace with SIM only after 4G upgrade.” Verizon’s 4G LTE network requires a SIM card, so not every Verizon device will have 4G. Right now the list of compatible devices is very short: the Motorola Xoom and the still-unreleased HTC Thunderbolt.
- According to Motorola, the Xoom weighs 730 grams, exactly the same as the iPad 3G — although the Xoom is noticeably thicker.
- The Xoom features a 5 MP rear camera and a 2 MP front camera. At least for now, Motorola’s got Apple covered in the tablet camera arena. And unlike Motorola’s other recent device, the Atrix, both cameras are connected to the motherboard by separate cables. You won’t have to replace a ton of other stuff if just your camera fails.
- The 3250 mAh, 24.1 watt-hour lithium ion polymer battery boasts a healthy 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing and video playback, and a massive 3.3 days of MP3 playback. It’s also just as beastly as an iPad’s battery, taking up a very good chunk of internal real estate.
- Major players on the motherboard include:
- Nvidia Tegra T2 dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU and ultra-low power GeForce GPU.
- Toshiba THGBM2G8D8FBA1B NAND Flash
- Samsung K4P4G154EC DRAM
- Qualcomm MDM6600 supporting HSPA+ speeds of up to 14.4 Mbps
- Broadcom BCM4329 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, and FM Tuner
- Hynix H8BCSOQG0MMR 2-chip memory MCP
- AKM 8975 Electronic Compass
- Texas Instruments 54331 Step Down SWIFT DC/DC Converter with Eco-Mode