With the launch of the Nexus7 just around the corner, I’ve been doing some research around the device, how it’s made (and repaired), it’s limitations and overcoming some universal complaints that, while perhaps not perfect, make the device infinitely more usable.

Source: iFixit

Hardware

  • The device in a dismantled state consists of 13 parts.
  • The following parts can be replaced without soldering (Plug&Play):
    • Microphone
    • Camera
    • Battery
    • MicroUSB + 3.5mm jack (This is a big deal. NO soldering required!)
    • Speakers
    • Motherboard (while retaining all of the above)
  • The back opens without any fuss, it clips onto the frame.
  • The screen is one of the easier to remove (counting total steps) however is bonded to the digitiser meaning a more costly replacement (or a messy replacement)

External Storage

The Nexus7 doesn’t ship with a microSD card and this is a big deal to a lot of people. The cost involved for shipping the device with a microSD card would be minimal but plays well into Google’s vision for a cloud-centric device.

For those who need external storage, there is unofficial support for USB-OTG once the Nexus7 is rooted. All that’s required once rooted is a USB-OTG cable and the app Stickmount. Stickmount will mount any external storage as R/W and while it doesn’t look as though movies/documents/etc can be opened from the external storage, it’s certainly possible to push and pull files from external storage for use on the device. Perfect? No. Usable? Absolutely.

Camera

The Nexus7 launches with no rear camera and a front camera that doesn’t appear to be accessible from the app menu. Luckily, the kind folks over on Modaco have developed an application. This application will allow you to launch the front facing camera in the same way you’re used to doing on any other Android device.

Root

Here’s a guide for obtaining root on your Nexus7:
http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1741395

It will require unlocking the bootloader and flashing a custom recovery image.

Conclusion

I’m particularly impressed by how this device was built. It’s not often I come across a device I’d consider so easy to repair. While there is no external storage (and the memory chip is soldered to the board, unlike my Streak that uses an internal SD card), there is unofficial USB-OTG support and the battery is user replaceable (assuming you’re confident enough to do so). That is a +1 on an earlier poor opinion I held on the matter. In addition to the battery however, almost all of the other parts known to fail (I’m looking at you in particular MicroUSB and 3.5mm jack!) simply plug in and out! Incredible.

Oh, and I’d definitely want that white back cover!

This post will be updated (and used for my own reference in the future) as more information becomes available. In the meantime, join the conversation on Google+.

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