Google is joining Samsung in offering parts for the Pixel smartphone through iFixit. The company announced in a blog post that it would make parts available for the Pixel 2 through Pixel 6 Pro later this year.
Considering Google has stopped supporting the devices with software updates, the inclusion of the early second-gen hardware is pretty impressive. Future Pixel models will also have repairable parts. The program is available for folks living in the US, UK, Canada, and EU countries where the Pixel is available.
Google plans to offer fix-it-kits for the battery, display, and camera modules, though the company also hints at more repairability down the line. I’d imagine some of the simpler parts of the smartphone will become swappable, like the Bluetooth antenna or the USB-C charging port, which Samsung is offering a fix for in its respective kits. The Pixel kits will also include tools like screwdriver bits and spudgers, which are things you might not have in your home if you’re not already a nerdy tinkerer.
If you’re not into taking apart your smartphone, Google still encourages you to find a local authorized professional who can quickly and affordably repair your device. The company has partnered with uBreakiFix in the US and Canada, while other regions have their respective repair centers.
Speaking as a person who has destroyed her Pixel 3 by dropping it in front of Marilyn Monroe’s Palm Springs abode, I can say this was long overdue. When I needed my screen repaired, Google had me send my phone out to a warehouse in Texas for a few weeks. I used a backup phone during that time, which I could only do because I cover smartphones and have a library of devices. People don’t have my gadget privilege, and it’s relieving to see there’s a local option when needing a functioning smartphone is a desperate situation.
The gadget industry has been collectively shifting toward putting repairability back into the hands of users. As I mentioned, Samsung has signed on with iFixit to make Galaxy repair kits, and Apple and Microsoft made similar announcements earlier this year that at least represent progres, Google also announced a Chromebook repair program to help rescue aging devices still in use in schools.
However, it seems to be less about empowering people and more about touting each company’s eco-friendly leanings. In Google’s blog, there’s a whole section on how this news is “just one of the several steps we’re taking to help you make more sustainable choices.”
It’ll be interesting to see how the self-repair trend catches on once the repair kits are live—and if it translates to more users holding out on device upgrades.