High-end phones are often built with more expensive materials and designs that are, more often than not, difficult to open up for repairs. In contrast, mid-range phones are traditionally easier to disassemble, though that trend is changing now as well. The new Pixel 5a seems to be part of that changing trend, and while it was easy to get started, Google’s unconventional design and assembly require too much work to replace even some of the most basic components.
Opening up the Pixel 5a is actually a bit easier though still risky. You need to apply a bit of heat to pry off the screen, which is held down in place by the same brackets used in the Pixel 5. However, one has to be careful which direction to lift the screen since the display cable’s connector is hidden underneath a bracket.
The Pixel 5a doesn’t use as many screws, but it uses screws of varying lengths, adding more work to the disassembly and reassembly process. Google has also employed three pull tabs for the batteries, two of which are completely hidden from view, and all of them useless. PBKreviews had to resort to using alcohol anyway to dissolve the adhesive.
The phone also has some pieces of black plastic cover that are easy to lose and seem to do nothing more than act as “fillers.” Aside from the motherboard, most of the components are screwed down on the backplate rather than on a mid-frame. The USB-C charging port is soldered down on the mainboard, making it extremely difficult to repair, while the speaker assembly’s cable is hidden underneath the mainboard, so you’ll have to remove the latter first to get to the former.
PBKreviews gives the Pixel 5a a 5 out of 10 in terms of repairability, but that might be a generous score. It is almost ironic that the screen is probably the easiest to remove and replace this time, but almost all other components aren’t. The YouTube channel also noted that the Pixel 5a could have easily supported a wireless charging coil, but Google probably decided not to on account of the added build cost.