Google has announced plans to make it easier to fix a broken Pixel phone. Starting later this year you’ll be able to buy spare parts and tools to fix Pixel 2 and later phones from iFixit.
Google says things like replacement displays, batteries, and cameras will be sold as individual parts and as parts of kits that include suggested tools including screwdriver bits and spudgers. Parts will be available to customers in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and in countries in the European Union where Pixel phones are sold.
The announcement comes about a week after Samsung announced it was also partnering with iFixit on a Self Repair Program for recent flagship phones and tablets.
In some ways Google’s program goes further, as the company is promising to make spare parts available for every phone it’s released since late 2017, including models like the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 which are no longer covered by Google’s software update policy. But Samsung also produces a much wider range of hardware than Google does, so it’d likely take a bit more effort to offer spare parts and repair guides across the company’s entire lineup.
That said, it’s good to see more companies jumping on the right to repair bandwagon and offering more alternatives for folks who want to try their hand at fixing their own gear, which can often be cheaper and sometimes faster than sending your broken devices to the manufacturer for repair or taking them to a professional repair shop.
Google also notes that making official replacement parts available will also help “independent repair professionals” as well as individuals with a DIY streak. And Google says it will also continue to partner with independent repair providers including uBreakiFix who provide in-warranty and out-of-warranty repair support for folks who may not want to perform surgery on their own phones.
The folks at iFixit note that repair guides are already available for Pixel 2, 3, 4, and 5 series phones and guides are on the way for the Pixel 5a, 6 and 6 Pro.
I replaced my Pixel 2’s battery with a new one that came in a kit from iFixit more than a year ago. So, I guess the news here is that it’s getting official Google support? I suppose that’s a good thing.
However, I’m still angry at Google for locking my bootloader, which happened before replacing the battery, but I only found out about it afterwards. I bought my Pixel 2 directly from Google partially because they sold it with unlocked bootloaders. However, the USB-C port broke after a year or so and I sent it in for a warranty repair/replacement. It never occurred to me that they would lock it as part of their “repair” process. I had always planned on replacing the stock firmware with a third-party one after Google ended official support, but with the locked bootloader, I can’t do that now.
So, now I have a good battery but I’m stuck with outdated and increasingly insecure software. This phone could probably last me another 4 years if it wasn’t for that asinine behavior from Google.
What exactly is the point of providing parts to fix phones that you don’t offer software updates for anymore?
Just to keep outdated phones available for exploits?
Maybe they shouldn’t make the phones glued shut in the first place. Like the Terracube.
I’ve heard there’s some new laws or executive orders in the US that, while not exactly granting right to repair, do sort of compel these companies to pretend to care about it, if they mess around with the definitions of some words, like “repair”. I suppose that’s why they’re doing it. They know most people won’t, and will still replace their phones if anything breaks, because you’re still very likely to break a screen or glass back trying to fix the phone even if iFixit sells you a kit of tools to do so.
If I see a third one of these articles though, like for Motorola phones, or if I see that iFixit is on some corporate consortium of “repairabilty” along with the likes of Samsung and Apple, I’m going to start getting VERY suspicious of iFixit, and will not be surprised to find that iFixit has started basing repairability scores on new, much looser criteria, or that they’ve really stopped caring about right to repair.
And that’ll suck, because it’ll be the same situation as with Linux distros and Firefox. They’re doing things that are clearly wrong, but I don’t know of any competition that could ever take their place, or isn’t even worse.