After prying off the screen and a graphite cover over the battery, the main guts of the Pixel 5a look like this.
Google is still using a combination of tabs and these rectangular clips.
The main side of the motherboard, with the shielding removed.
You can see the shiny metal on the inside of the phone (but never the outside) and for the NFC antenna (the black area) Google just punched a hole in the metal back.
iFixit seems to have given up on full teardowns for the Pixel line, but we still have YouTubers! PBKreviews has ripped apart the Pixel 5a on camera, exposing the water-resistant innards for all to see.
The Pixel 5a’s construction is not all that different from the Pixel 5. The screen is again held on with Google’s unique combination of glue and rectangular clips. While that combo seems like it would result in better screen adhesion than most smartphones, the methodology actually didn’t fare well on the Pixel 5, as users complained about uneven panel gaps. The Pixel 5a display tabs are now a lot bigger, and there are more of them, so hopefully, that will prevent similar alignment problems.
For a phone with a plastic exterior, there’s a surprising amount of metal in the Pixel 5a. One of the first things you’ll see after prying off the screen is a metal cover over the motherboard. Like the Pixel 5a, the whole back of the phone is metal, but that metal is hidden in a plastic coating Google calls a “bio-resin.”
Metal isn’t used much in phones these days because it blocks RF signals and requires extra effort to engineer around. With this bio-resin coating as the outside, though, Google just blows a hole through the metal body wherever it needs one and lets the plastic fill in the gaps. This was how the Pixel 5 managed to have a metal body and wireless charging—there was just no metal around the wireless charging circle. There’s no wireless charging on the cheaper 5a, but in the teardown video, you can see the shiny metal back exposed on the inside of the phone and the hole Google blasted through the rear for the NFC antenna.
This is the first water-resistant Pixel A phone, and you’ll see the telltale indicators in the video. A perimeter of glue holds the screen onto the phone, while rubber gaskets surround the USB-C port and SIM holder.
The main complaints about repairability are the USB-C port—which is soldered onto the main motherboard—and the battery. The latter is a pain to remove thanks to a “useless” pull tab that breaks easily. Other than that, the Pixel 5a looks like just as much of a plain, no-nonsense phone on the inside as it does on the outside.
Look for our review of the Pixel 5a sometime next week.
Listing image by PBKreviews