Introduction

Some months after its initial release and lukewarm reception, the Pixel C has found its way back into the news, with a hefty discount to developers who want to try out the new Android N operating system. Sounds like it's teardown time.

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This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your Google Pixel C, use our service manual.

Image 1/2: 10.2" LTPS LCD with a resolution of 2560 x 1800 (308 ppi) Image 2/2: Nvidia Tegra X1 64-bit quad-core processor paired with a 256-core Maxwell GPU
  • What makes a Pixel C? Let's see!

    • 10.2" LTPS LCD with a resolution of 2560 x 1800 (308 ppi)

    • Nvidia Tegra X1 64-bit quad-core processor paired with a 256-core Maxwell GPU

    • 3 GB LPDDR4 memory

    • 32 or 64 GB storage options

    • USB Type-C

    • 8 MP rear camera and 2 MP front camera

    • Android 6.0 Marshmallow

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  • The Pixel C features a slick unibody aluminum chassis, with stereo speakers, USB C, and the usual power and volume rockers.

  • Along the top are holes for the "quad noise-cancelling microphones." Interesting feature for a device that doesn't yet support always-on "OK Google."

  • We've seen dual microphones in devices for a few years now, a feature that cancels out ambient noise by comparing signals from two different locations. Four is a bigger number than two, so it probably does it better.

  • But enough of the outside—let's slap some heat on this fondleslab and open it up.

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Image 1/3: Alas, we seem to be tethered to the launchpad: a thin cable for the front-facing camera keeps us from immediate opening success. Image 2/3: A bit of deft spudgering is called for. Image 3/3: With the camera cable dispatched, we're able to open the Pixel C, with the wide display data ribbon cable still attached.
  • After much heating and some heavy duty suction, we have liftoff!

  • Alas, we seem to be tethered to the launchpad: a thin cable for the front-facing camera keeps us from immediate opening success.

    • A bit of deft spudgering is called for.

  • With the camera cable dispatched, we're able to open the Pixel C, with the wide display data ribbon cable still attached.

    • And get a look at that adhesive—thick, gooey, and plentiful. No wonder this was a tough nut to crack.

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Image 1/3: That makes for an annoying extra cable to disconnect when opening the device. Image 2/3: The front-facing camera assembly contains a 2 MP selfie cam, ambient light sensor, and what looks like a camera indicator LED. Image 3/3: A small daughterboard connects the display data cable and is host to the Synaptics touchscreen controller.
  • Unlike most other tablets we've seen, the Pixel C's front-facing camera assembly lives on the display, not within the device's unibody chassis.

    • That makes for an annoying extra cable to disconnect when opening the device.

  • The front-facing camera assembly contains a 2 MP selfie cam, ambient light sensor, and what looks like a camera indicator LED.

  • A small daughterboard connects the display data cable and is host to the Synaptics touchscreen controller.

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Image 1/2: In the interest of safety, we decide to disconnect the battery first—no easy task. Image 2/2: The connector is buried under two ribbon cables and a piece of tape.
  • Display dispatched, we get a better look at the goods.

  • In the interest of safety, we decide to disconnect the battery first—no easy task.

  • The connector is buried under two ribbon cables and a piece of tape.

  • And an exploratory battery poke tells us those cells are very solidly adhered to the case... We'll save that chore for later...

  • There are a total of 17 magnets spread out through the whole case to allow for connecting it to the keyboard.

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Image 1/3: The speakers are home to adhered-on antennas, so replacing the speaker will probably mean a bit of extra work in the form of peeling and re-sticking. Image 2/3: The speakers' backs are covered in spring contacts that all connect to the back of the case—perhaps for grounding or for conducting WiFi signal to the antennas. Image 3/3: The speakers' backs are covered in spring contacts that all connect to the back of the case—perhaps for grounding or for conducting WiFi signal to the antennas.
  • Where to next? Perhaps those fancy stereo speakers.

  • The speakers are home to adhered-on antennas, so replacing the speaker will probably mean a bit of extra work in the form of peeling and re-sticking.

  • The speakers' backs are covered in spring contacts that all connect to the back of the case—perhaps for grounding or for conducting WiFi signal to the antennas.

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Image 1/3: We love seeing ports as separate parts! This port will likely get a lot of abuse throughout its life, and a modular component means it can be replaced with relative ease, at low cost (assuming you can get the device open without breaking the display...) Image 2/3: We love seeing ports as separate parts! This port will likely get a lot of abuse throughout its life, and a modular component means it can be replaced with relative ease, at low cost (assuming you can get the device open without breaking the display...) Image 3/3: We love seeing ports as separate parts! This port will likely get a lot of abuse throughout its life, and a modular component means it can be replaced with relative ease, at low cost (assuming you can get the device open without breaking the display...)
  • A couple standard Phillips screws secure the USB-C port bracket—but after that, the removal is painless and very modular.

  • We love seeing ports as separate parts! This port will likely get a lot of abuse throughout its life, and a modular component means it can be replaced with relative ease, at low cost (assuming you can get the device open without breaking the display...)

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Image 1/3: The rear-facing camera comes out of its hutch after taking off the metal bracket keeping it in place. Image 2/3: We continue to be confused about tablet cameras—but at 8 MP, you can take pretty decent photos of your cats without grabbing your phone. Image 3/3: The power button and volume rocker are simply fixed with two screws apiece. Short cables and simple button covers will make replacements a breeze.
  • More modular components ahead!

  • The rear-facing camera comes out of its hutch after taking off the metal bracket keeping it in place.

    • We continue to be confused about tablet cameras—but at 8 MP, you can take pretty decent photos of your cats without grabbing your phone.

  • The power button and volume rocker are simply fixed with two screws apiece. Short cables and simple button covers will make replacements a breeze.

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Image 1/2: And a black one at that! We're having Apple product flashbacks. At least the USB port was modular. Image 2/2: No screws to be found, we opt for some heat action.
  • After a honeymoon of modular parts, we encounter a rough patch: an adhered motherboard.

    • And a black one at that! We're having Apple product flashbacks. At least the USB port was modular.

  • No screws to be found, we opt for some heat action.

  • We finally pry out the heart of the tablet, wresting it from two adhesive pads, some (nonstick) foam padding and a couple strips of conductive foam.

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Image 1/2: Nvidia [http://www.nvidia.com/object/tegra-x1-processor.html|Tegra X1|new_window=true] 64-bit quad-core processor Image 2/2: Samsung [http://www.samsung.com/semiconductor/products/flash-storage/emmc/KLMBG4GEND-B031?ia=2324|KLMBG4GEND|new_window=true] 32 GB eMMC flash storage
  • Major players on the board:

    • Nvidia Tegra X1 64-bit quad-core processor

    • Samsung KLMBG4GEND 32 GB eMMC flash storage

    • Samsung K4F2E304HMMGCH 6 Gb (1.5 GB) LPDDR4 RAM (x2 for 3 GB total)

    • Broadcom BCM43540LKUBG 5G Wi-Fi 802.11ac controller

    • Nuvoton NAU88L25 audio codec

    • STMicroelectronics STM32F3x8 32 bit ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller

    • Infineon SLB 9645 trusted platform module

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Image 1/3: Having no ports of its own, the keyboard needs inductive charging from the tablet to function. We'll find a twin to this coil in the peripheral. Image 2/3: Under the coil, we find a control board—probably responsible for turning boring old DC power from the battery into exciting, varying-magnetic-field-generating AC to power the coil. Image 3/3: We also get to peel out this record-breaking headphone jack port with the longest tail ever.
  • This neat little coil feeds the Pixel C's parasitic keyboard, when it's connected in the proper screen-covering position.

    • Having no ports of its own, the keyboard needs inductive charging from the tablet to function. We'll find a twin to this coil in the peripheral.

  • Under the coil, we find a control board—probably responsible for turning boring old DC power from the battery into exciting, varying-magnetic-field-generating AC to power the coil.

  • We also get to peel out this record-breaking headphone jack port with the longest tail ever.

    • It actually does double duty as an interconnect cable for the inductive coil and the right speaker.

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Image 1/3: But wait—those LEDs point up at the display, not toward the indicator bar in the case. That seems weird. Image 2/3: The shiny foil layer actually traps the light from the board and bounces it back down to a light guide that shines out through the case. Image 3/3: The final stratum is an array of  four noise-canceling microphones.
  • This portion of the case seems to be geologically interesting; under the headphone jack crust, we find a reflective backing covering an LED board.

  • But wait—those LEDs point up at the display, not toward the indicator bar in the case. That seems weird.

    • The shiny foil layer actually traps the light from the board and bounces it back down to a light guide that shines out through the case.

  • The final stratum is an array of four noise-canceling microphones.

    • Who knows if doubling the microphones will actually double the performance from the standard dual-microphone array.

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Image 1/2: At 34.2 Wh, the Pixel C handily beats the 27.9 Wh [https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iPad+Pro+9.7-Inch+Teardown/60939#s127361|9.7" iPad Pro], but comes in behind the [https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Microsoft+Surface+Pro+4+Teardown/51568#s112665|Surface Pro 4]'s 38.2 Wh powerhouse. Image 2/2: After some serious heating, we start scraping along with a plastic card.
  • We're finally ready to tackle that hefty battery, but first let's peep those specs.

  • After some serious heating, we start scraping along with a plastic card.

  • Even at the shallowest of angles, we start to curl that battery like some pencil shavings. This is some pretty tough adhesive.

    • We decided tomorrow would be a better day for a Li-Ion battery explosion, and stopped here.

Have you considered doing the opposite for battery removal? Freezing (or near freezing) might make the adhesive brittle while also preserving the rigidity of the battery pack. A cold Li-Ion battery is also less likely to explode, so that's a plus.

Christian Schaab - Reply

Image 1/3: With no obvious point of entry, we start prodding, and heating, and prying. Image 2/3: A plastic bezel is the first chink in the armor, and it looks like we made a good choice. Already we have an inductive charging coil, and several magnets exposed to the world. Image 3/3: A plastic bezel is the first chink in the armor, and it looks like we made a good choice. Already we have an inductive charging coil, and several magnets exposed to the world.
  • Now on to the Pixel C's keyboard. While not included in the base package, it's still worth a peek.

  • With no obvious point of entry, we start prodding, and heating, and prying.

  • A plastic bezel is the first chink in the armor, and it looks like we made a good choice. Already we have an inductive charging coil, and several magnets exposed to the world.

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Image 1/3: And the keyboard lifts right up—no pesky cables connect the keyboard to the bottom case, and none run near the prying edges. ''Phew!'' Image 2/3: The big cable is for the keyboard, but what about that thinner one? Image 3/3: The narrow cable lines up with a magnet in the Pixel C's case—so, our bets are on Hall effect sensor. This way, the keyboard instantly knows it's attached to the tablet, so "you can start typing in an instant."
  • Removing a few screws, and adding a lot more heat, gives us ingress into the main body.

  • And the keyboard lifts right up—no pesky cables connect the keyboard to the bottom case, and none run near the prying edges. Phew!

  • The big cable is for the keyboard, but what about that thinner one?

  • The narrow cable lines up with a magnet in the Pixel C's case—so, our bets are on Hall effect sensor. This way, the keyboard instantly knows it's attached to the tablet, so "you can start typing in an instant."

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Image 1/3: Behind it we find the traditional scissor mechanism. Larger keys have an additional small metal bar. Image 2/3: The keys are also easy to clip on again. We are a bit worried about the tiny plastic clips breaking when trying to insert a key in the wrong orientation. Image 3/3: The keys are also easy to clip on again. We are a bit worried about the tiny plastic clips breaking when trying to insert a key in the wrong orientation.
  • With an opening pick we can simply pop off the single keys.

  • Behind it we find the traditional scissor mechanism. Larger keys have an additional small metal bar.

  • The keys are also easy to clip on again. We are a bit worried about the tiny plastic clips breaking when trying to insert a key in the wrong orientation.

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Image 1/3: Ignoring the cables for now, we scoop out the teeny battery. Image 2/3: Lacking any specs, we can't tell you much about the battery—other than, well, it's small. And inductively charged by the tablet. Image 3/3: Lacking any specs, we can't tell you much about the battery—other than, well, it's small. And inductively charged by the tablet.
  • It's looking like the base is just a weight and hinge, while the guts are piggybacked to the keyboard assembly.

  • Ignoring the cables for now, we scoop out the teeny battery.

  • Lacking any specs, we can't tell you much about the battery—other than, well, it's small. And inductively charged by the tablet.

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Image 1/3: And the brains of this (small) beast: Nordic Semiconductor [https://www.nordicsemi.com/eng/Products/Bluetooth-Smart-Bluetooth-low-energy/nRF51822|nRF51822|new_window=true] 2.4 GHz Bluetooth and 32 bit ARM [http://www.arm.com/products/processors/cortex-m/cortex-m0.php|Cortex-M0|new_window=true] microcontroller Image 2/3: And the brains of this (small) beast: Nordic Semiconductor [https://www.nordicsemi.com/eng/Products/Bluetooth-Smart-Bluetooth-low-energy/nRF51822|nRF51822|new_window=true] 2.4 GHz Bluetooth and 32 bit ARM [http://www.arm.com/products/processors/cortex-m/cortex-m0.php|Cortex-M0|new_window=true] microcontroller Image 3/3: And the brains of this (small) beast: Nordic Semiconductor [https://www.nordicsemi.com/eng/Products/Bluetooth-Smart-Bluetooth-low-energy/nRF51822|nRF51822|new_window=true] 2.4 GHz Bluetooth and 32 bit ARM [http://www.arm.com/products/processors/cortex-m/cortex-m0.php|Cortex-M0|new_window=true] microcontroller
  • Dispatching the keyboard and sensor cable, we pop the main board—and attached inductive charging coil—from the keyboard.

  • And the brains of this (small) beast: Nordic Semiconductor nRF51822 2.4 GHz Bluetooth and 32 bit ARM Cortex-M0 microcontroller

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Image 1/3: As with the rest of this keyboard, it's packed with glue, but after a heating marathon we manage to pry the hinge components apart. Image 2/3: Under the cover we find: many more magnets! Google really wants this tablet to sit securely... Image 3/3: This snappy layout gives you a good idea of the simple, but solid, construction of this peripheral.
  • Final frontier: the tablet mount hinge.

  • As with the rest of this keyboard, it's packed with glue, but after a heating marathon we manage to pry the hinge components apart.

  • Under the cover we find: many more magnets! Google really wants this tablet to sit securely...

  • This snappy layout gives you a good idea of the simple, but solid, construction of this peripheral.

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Image 1/2: Many parts, including the USB-C port, are modular and can be replaced independently. Image 2/2: The motherboard is glued tightly to the rear case.
  • The Pixel C Repairability Score: 4 out of 10 (10 is best):

    • Many parts, including the USB-C port, are modular and can be replaced independently.

    • The motherboard is glued tightly to the rear case.

    • Crazy strong adhesive holds the battery to the rear case, complicating the inevitable replacement.

    • The fused display must be removed to access any interior parts—no easy task, thanks to tough adhesive.

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14 Comments

Nexus, can't go wrong. I love it. <3

jvelez - Reply

Are you sure of "noise cancelling mic"? Noise cancelling is more about mics in different directions and defining a main one, like the iPhone with it's top, bottom (main), rear ones (still this only works when not in speakerphone, since then you can't define which the main one is).

Coupling mics together is more about get louder audio without increasing mic sensibility (what makes a better quality audio) and stereo effect. It's a tablet, it's like being always in speakerphone, after all.

Fernando - Reply

I love my Nexus 10 too! Best tablet I have ever had. (Replaced iPad)

Sergio Marcelo - Reply

Do you know where can I find parts for Pixel C? I need another usb type C port.

Viacheslav Kim - Reply

The keyboard teardown doesn't show how a single key is fixed to the keyboard. Are the keys glued or removable and re-attachable to the keyboard frame? Could you illustrate this process also?

mmatzat - Reply

We added one more step to show the removal of the keys and the underlying mechanism.

Tobias Isakeit -

Thank you for the additional information. I will try to fix my jammed key now.

Mathias Matzat -

Where can I find the screen

abarca951 - Reply

Where can I find the screen ?

abarca951 - Reply

Please tell us where we can buy a replacement Screen? Please Please Please!

Krypto Graphic - Reply

Great teardown, very informative.

Any idea why some of tablets are having the screen clicking issue when pushed slightly? Mine does this starting about 1/5 from the left side - approximately where the motherboard ends and battery starts.

Is it the screen itself or the components/space behind it?

Jānis Klemka - Reply

Did you identify the chips used in the wireless power?

Zen Turtle - Reply

I'm looking for keycaps for the keyboard. Is this same keyboard used anywhere else? I can't find anyone selling replacements for the Pixel C

Temp Orary - Reply

You can't find a replacement screen anywhere. No one sells it and no one repairs it if the screen breaks at all your SOL

Mike Oxley - Reply

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