A Google Pixel 6 Pro teardown video offers encouraging insights into the device's repairability
Apple has courted controversy in the wake of findings that it sets its iPhones to effectively break various important functions, those of their cameras, biometric authentication and even display auto-brightness in response to independent repair procedures such as a screen replacement by someone other than an authorized technician.
Now, claims that Google has imposed the same kind of restrictions on the use of the cameras on its new flagship, the Pixel 6 Pro, have emerged. The well-known Australian YouTuber Hugh Jeffreys has taken it upon himself to test these claims using a process earlier applied to assess the presence and extent of software locks in the last few generations of iPhones.
This involves buying 2 new units of the device in question, opening them both and switching their logic boards. Accordingly, the serial numbers of this part and others such as the camera modules and display panels would fail to match, despite their all being factory-fresh components. This is what tripped the dreaded anti-repair messages demonstrably baked into iOS, and could thus do the same if Google really had started to apply the same restrictions.
However, this is not what transpired in this case. All of the Pixel 6 Pro's cameras continued to work after being swapped between the 2 devices; however, it seemed this could not be said for the in-display fingerprint sensor following the re-assembly of one of them.
This issue was addressed through the use of a recalibration tool that Google has made available online for free, and restores this function after any kind of display replacement. Therefore, it seems the Mountain View behemoth has a much more laissez-faire attitude to repairability, first-party or otherwise.
Despite this, it also became apparent that not all is that rosy in terms of Pixel 6 Pro restoration. It became apparent almost from the start of Jeffreys' new video that dissembling the new phone is quite complicated, requiring a plastic pick of a specific depth (3.5mm) to pry the display off, which needs to be done at a particular angle (75°) in order to prevent internal damage.
Furthermore, the new flagship is full of fiddly or otherwise difficult components and connectors, graphene sheets and a heat-sink included, which may furthermore be hard to source as replacement parts for now as the phone has only just been launched. All in all, while it now seems it is possible to repair one's Pixel 6 Pro by oneself, its recently-demonstrated resistance to damage in the first place might be a good thing.