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Do You Know What’s Actually Inside Your Phone?

Do You Know What’s Actually Inside Your Phone?


NAT: You are about to enter
another dimension, one of 4G and NFC, where neighborhoods
are sealed under layers of copper and glass. You’re about to enter– LO: A phone. NAT: Hey, there. Welcome back. I’m Nat. LO: And I’m Lo. NAT: And this is
our 20% Project, where we go find out about
different Google stuff that we’re curious about. LO: And in this episode,
we’re taking apart a phone to learn
what’s inside of it and how that stuff actually
works with our friend Dan. NAT: Dan works on
the Android team. And his real job is helping
developers make gaming apps. But in his spare time, he
likes taking apart hardware. You’re a pro at teaching. And then– DAN: I’m an amateur at breaking
things and taking things apart. All right. Let’s start taking
apart this Nexus 5. LO: And so when you open
up any phone, will it look basically the same inside? DAN: It’ll have
similar components. And those components will be
organized in similar ways. So you’ve got a display,
cameras, microphones. NAT: There’s a
case, the battery. LO: A SIM card slot. NAT: Speakers. And a sensor that can tell
whether or not a phone is near your face. DAN: This is the gyro
and the accelerometer. NAT: They’re both
sensors that are useful for playing video
games and fitness apps because they can tell
your phone’s movement. There’s a motherboard, which is
the main printed circuit board and does a lot of
different stuff. LO: A lot of phones also
have daughter boards, which are an extension
of the motherboard and can be all different
shapes and sizes. NAT: Then there’s
also the fatherboard. LO: Is there a fatherboard? NAT: No, I just
made that one up. Testing ya. DAN: Almost every
useful component you would see on the phone
is actually on this board. NAT: It looks like there’s
little neighborhoods on the board, like
this is separated– DAN: There are. NAT: That’s a little separated. LO: It’s like suburbia. NAT: So– DAN: Absolutely. NAT: Yeah, it’s like looking
out from a plane window and seeing these
little separate areas. DAN: Of course. NAT: So are they
actually separate? DAN: They are actual
neighborhoods. So that’s a great way of
describing it actually. NAT: (WHISPERING) Yes! DAN: And you can see
both sides of the boards have different neighborhoods. NAT: For something
like Project Ara that has all the different
components that you just slot into your phone,
is that like making one of those little
neighborhoods just independent? DAN: Absolutely. And when you look at
this, you can already see kind of like what
Project Ara is trying to do. So one thing we’re
unable to take apart is this front display. And that’s because this
is all glued together. NAT: But Dan explained that if
we were able to take it apart, there’d be all these different
layers of glass and insulating material and protective coating. LO: And sandwiched
between those layers are two very important layers. And you have these super
thin copper wires, actually thinner than a human hair. NAT: There’s a layer of wires
that are horizontal and carry an electric current. And they’re called the
driving lines layer. LO: And then there’s
the layer of lines that are vertical that are
called the sensing line layers. NAT: And together,
they form a grid. And this grid has
an electric charge. So basically, when your fingers
get close to the screen, because they’re good
conductors of electricity, they disrupt the
grid’s electric charge. And the processor
picks up on that. And it plots it
on an x-y access. So it can figure out exactly
where you’re touching it and can then route
that information wherever it needs to go. DAN: A phone is a really
sophisticated computer combined with an enormous
number of radios. NAT: Not like the radio that
you listen to in your car, but like a two-way radio. LO: Like walkie talkies. NAT: So your phone can transmit
data or it can receive it. So your phone has
a cell phone radio. And that communicates
with a cell tower whenever you’re making a call. Then it’s got a Wi-Fi radio. LO: And that’s good
for downloading big files or streaming video. It actually uses less battery
because it has less distance to go. NAT: It has a Bluetooth radio
for connecting to, maybe, speakers in your living room. LO: And if you’ve ever
tapped your phone to pay, that’s going to be
using your NFC radio. It stands for Near
Field Communication. NAT: Because it can only
travel like an inch and a half in range. LO: And last but
not least, there’s GPS, which, of course, is really
useful for real-time mapping and in case you lose your phone. NAT: And all those
radios actually make it pretty tricky
and interesting to design phones because you
can’t have them interfering with each other. And they’re all packed in
there super close together. LO: Dan, what are you doing? DAN: I’m putting it back
together, of course. LO: How’s it going? DAN: Well, seeing if I can. It’s going pretty well. So, yeah, just your
average Friday. NAT: What’s your prediction
for phones in the future? DAN: This year, we’re
seeing a lot of cool stuff in terms of what we’re
doing with Project Cardboard and people using
these phones as a basis for a virtual reality player. So you want to go and
be somewhere else. You want to see
it in Street View, but you want to
see it in 3D, you can use this with a couple of
lenses and a piece of cardboard to be there. And I think that’s just
scratching the surface of what we’re going to see in
terms of phone technology and how it can provide you
that sensory experience. NAT: So what did you learn
about phones from all of this? LO: It’s a lot more
fun when you actually know what’s inside the
things you use every day. NAT: Yeah, it was
interesting to learn how all these different
things are laid out together. So there’s probably as
much, if not even more, design on the
inside of the phone than there is on the outside. We wanted to thank you
for taking the time to do this today. So you’ll hang tight. And I’ll go get something. LO: Since Dan broke apart a
phone for us, as a thank-you, we decided to give him
something else to break apart. NAT: Here we go. OK. [BANG] DAN: Whew. [BANG] DAN: That was good. [INAUDIBLE] [SINGING NONSENSE SOUNDS] NAT: Hey, Lo. LO: Oh, hey, Nat. NAT: So I think this is
the end of the episode. So I was just picturing that
we’d just walk off camera now. LO: Oh, well, I’m glad
you called me and told me. Because I don’t know how
else I would have found out. NAT: All right. So, see ya. LO: OK. Bye.

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