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Nexus 9 Teardown: intricately built and tough to repair

Dismantling the Nexus 9 reveals a delicately laid out interior heavily reliant on tape and glue, which leaves the high-end tablet difficult to repair.

Published onNovember 5, 2014

Nexus 9 insides

The Nexus 9 is a fancy looking and functional piece of hardware from the outside. However, a teardown of the internal components by the folks over at ifixit has revealed that a little less attention to detail may have been paid to the the placement and construction of the parts inside. The result – a poor repair rating of just 3 out of 10.

The Nexus 9 was initially off to a good start with a back cover that is easy to remove via simple clips, rather than using glue to fuse the covers together. However the teardown quickly revealed that the internal layout is less than optimal, as the 8MP rear camera instantly became disconnected from the motherboard upon opening the case. Not a massive issue normally, until it was noticed that you have to take the whole motherboard out to reattach this basic connector.

Nexus 9 tape and cables
Delicate cables, tape, and thin copper shields make repairs more difficult than usual.

Digging further into the innards reveals an overreliance on tape to hold components in place and a selection of long cables to connect different boards together, which perhaps could have been better organized in early development stages.  But the worst is yet to come – dreaded glue.

The battery in the Nexus 9 is glued down pretty solidly, which isn’t uncommon for tablets, but the bigger issue is the display. Screens tend to be the most easy component to damage and the LCD display is unfortunately fused to the front glass. This means that you’re looking at a more expensive and extensive replacement for a simple crack, unless you have the means to heat-up and separate the two components yourself.

Nexus 9 teardown

On the plus side, the use of modular boards and components means that camera or speaker faults shouldn’t be expensive to reorder. In the end though, the intricate internal layout means that any component failures in the Nexus 9 are likely to be pretty tricky to replace.