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Repair guides and disassembly information for Google's Pixel 4 XL smartphone, released in October of 2019.

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How do I apply new back panel adhesive on a Pixel 4xl?

I got iFixit's Pixel 4xl Battery replacement kit and followed the guide. Everything worked, the battery works, and each step was very well documented... except for the part where I had to apply the new back panel adhesive. I can't find a guide or any instructions about what to peel first or how to place it and on what part (back panel vs laying it into the case itself). I tried to apply it anyway and didn't realize until after 3 attempts that there is a red ribbon running along one side of the adhesive. Needless to say it ended in a tangled sticky mess.

There's clearly a way that this is supposed to be applied but I could not figure it out. I ended up cutting small pieces and using them as a temp fix until the replacement arrives.

Can someone explain what i'm supposed to peel off first, where it's supposed to be placed, and at what point i'm supposed to remove the thin red strip?

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Hi Jonathan,

I've actually had to do this for my niece's 4XL, so I've experienced your pain. That's why I always buy extras when I get screen or back cover adhesives, because as you found out, it's all too easy to make a mistake and have to start over. I found a YouTube video from Ricks Tech Repairs that shows you exactly how to put the adhesive on. The part you're interested in starts at 10:45 into the video.

Google Pixel 4 XL Back Cover replacement - YouTube

I took a look at the adhesive sold by iFixit vs. the one I used (I still have a couple), and mine is almost identical to the one in the video, but that's not important. Yours already has the center of the adhesive removed, so you don't have to worry about that part. Here are a few pointers to help you along.

  1. Pay attention to the shape of the adhesive; the top and bottom are different, so you need to make sure you apply it in the proper orientation. The top is a slim and straight across while the bottom is wider and has a small tab in the middle.
  2. Plug in the battery and make sure all the cables and connectors are laying down flat so when you place the adhesive, the backing doesn't get pushed up and make it difficult to lay the edges down all the way around.
  3. Yes, the adhesive does go on the main frame, not the back case.
  4. The big blue sheet stays on, and you remove all the backing from the side that goes toward the phone.
  5. Lay it in place carefully; if you need to hold it down, press on the blue backing, not the edges - you don't want them to stick until it's properly positioned. On yours, the big opening corresponds to the camera position in the upper left corner.
  6. Once you're happy with where it's placed. lightly stick the edges down. Then go over them all with a spudger as shown in the video to secure them.
  7. Carefully separate the backing where the opening is, then work your way around slowly. If it comes up from the case anywhere, use your spudger to press it back down and stick it good before proceeding.

Hopefully that'll get you going. Best of luck with your repair!

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Unfortunately, the iFixit adhesive is not mirror symmetric, unlike the third-party one in the video, and the clear and blue sides end up reversed. The adhesive has thick portions - they correspond to the portion of the edge nearest the power button and volume rocker, and the corner nearest the cameras. As a result, the clear and blue sides are forced to be the other way around compared to how the adhesive is installed in the video - when the clear side is peeled, the exposed adhesive faces the glass back, and the blue side is the one that faces the phone. (I'll post what worked for me as a separate answer.)

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I believe @dadibrokeit 's instructions are better for the third party adhesive, but iFixit's genuine adhesive is not symmetric and ends up mirrored. (I suspect this might be too late for the OP but hopefully will help others!)

The iFixit adhesive has some additional thick "tab" portions on one side. They correspond to the part of the edge nearest the power button and volume rocker, and the corner nearest the cameras. Once you peel the clear backing off, the adhesive must go onto the glass back. The iFixit blue side has cutouts that allow this, while the third-party one would have some trouble with the protrusions near the cameras.

I had to come up with something on the fly so I don't know if this is the best technique, but I had success with this:

  1. Place the glass back face-down (black side up), with the camera bits to the upper right.
  2. Peel off the clear side of the adhesive. Hold the adhesive in right hand with blue plastic down and the cutout for the camera parts to the upper left.
  3. Pick up the glass back with the other hand. Ready the adhesive to the right of the phone, holding each piece like the halves of a book, being careful not to touch the adhesive to anything yet. To help ensure this, I held the two pieces at a right angle to each other, and leaned the edge of the blue plastic against the glass back (i.e. so the blue plastic is "above" the glass).
  4. Thread the ribbon connector through the cutout in the blue plastic.
  5. Still holding the two pieces at a right angle to each other (like a book), lean the edge of the glass to the blue plastic, so that the edge is just away from the adhesive.
  6. Align the top and bottom edges of the adhesive with the glass.
  7. Approach the edge of the adhesive with the edge of the glass so that they just barely stick.
  8. Use the stuck portion as a hinge to mostly "close" the book. Ensure the top and bottom edges are still aligned, and check that the cutout in the blue plastic is aligned with the parts for the camera.
  9. Press the partially-stuck edge onto the glass.
  10. "Close the book" and press the adhesive on the other edges onto the glass.
  11. Remove the blue plastic, leaving the red plastic tab and thin backing.
  12. Close the phone and test functionality.
  13. Remove the red plastic and seal the phone.

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Jonathan Sprance will be eternally grateful.
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