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DIY Repair of Modern Smartphones and Tablets

Successful DIY Repair of Your Smartphone and Tablet
DIY Repair of Modern Smartphones and Tablets

Successful DIY Repair (Do It Yourself) of Your Smartphone and Tablet

Modern smartphones and tablets are very fragile. They often can’t survive an occasional drop or even a dip in the pool. Phone companies usually offer a repair service for their customers but customers then have to shell out an obscene amount of money for it.

Nevertheless, if you like tinkering with gadgets and are good at it, you can try and repair your electronic devices at home. Perhaps, after reading this article you may still opt for the authorized repair service after all. Either way, the choice is yours entirely. This article is just written for enlightening purposes.

The list of faults you can fix yourself:

  • A scratched or broken screen
  • A blocked headphones jack
  • A foggy camera
  • A bad microphone or speaker
  • Malfunctioning autofocus
  • A weak battery
  • Water inside device

Step 1: Ultimate Backup

Backup all your data from your phone and tablet. Use the tools your phone company/brand suggests…cloud storages, computers and etc. If you do it regularly already, make sure you have the latest backup. If your phone has been submerged in water, skip this step as it can damage the hardware beyond any repair.

Step 2: Find a Manual

The best choice of manuals, video instructions, and life hacks can be found at ifixit.com. YouTube is also worth checking. For example a batch of Apple inner video instructions has been leaked recently sparkling another great scandal, because the company prohibits unauthorized repairs. Surprisingly, the leaked videos added nothing to the knowledge acquired by DIY enthusiasts through reverse engineering.

Check the repairability of the models according to iFixit. Most manufacturers arrange all parts on one logic board and they can’t be removed separately, one has to replace the whole board. It’s true for the latest devices by Apple, Samsung, LG, and others.

Mobile Phone Repair Tool Kit

Mobile Phone Repair Tool Kit

Step 3: Check Your Tools

Every manual features a list of tools you need to tear down your phone or tablet and replace the parts. The most important tool is the screwdriver with a set of various bits. For example, Apple uses “pentalobe” tamper-proof screws and you may need a corresponding screwdriver bit. The professional toolkit usually includes a prying blade, a spudger, a suction cup and a dust blower. Fortunately, they can be replaced with a guitar mediator/plastic card, a metal paper clip/needle/toothpick, suction cup towels hooks and a compressed air can. You also need a heat gun, some thermal gel pads, universal glue or an adhesive sticky tape, tissue napkins and isopropyl alcohol. Add a set of bowls to keep the screws and mark the bowls with stickers to remember which are which. It’s very important, because Apple uses non-magnetic screws near the speakers to avoid background white noise. You don’t want to misplace them.

Step 4: Get Spare Parts

The spare parts can be found on eBay. Read feedbacks on iFixit and eBay to find the best seller. Avoid second hand parts if possible, especially when you look for a battery. Choose a seller who accepts returns on purchases.

When you are finished with these steps, the next steps are the trickiest.

Teardown and Assembly

Most phone brands use both screws and glue to keep the phone together. Top makers like Samsung and Apple glue everything together and that stuff is very hard to get rid of.

Use a heat gun or some heated gel packs to heat the phone. Put the suction cup on the back panel of the screen and try to rise the corner of it while gently running the guitar mediator or plastic card along the joints. Use the free fingers to prevent the phone from sliding. If the panel won’t go, check for any forgotten screw or apply some softener.

Before putting the device back together you should completely remove the old glue. Use a toothpick to avoid scratches. Then apply an adhesive sticky tape or some fresh glue on the edges of the panels. Let the glue dry a bit before putting the parts back together and gently squeezing them for a few minutes. You can use some weight to help hold it together like a heavy book or two.

Smartphone reparation in action

Smartphone reparation in action

Some Tips for DIY Repair

As a rule, the screen glass is glued to the display matrix. If you’re not sure you can cope with the task of applying a new glass, replace the whole display. The same goes for camera units that are too small nowadays to be put apart at home. If you have any problems with the camera, replace the whole module.

  • Be extremely careful while disconnecting flexible flat cables. Do not jerk them out! Look for a safety latch and open it first before disconnecting.
  • Check if the new display or if any other part works before putting the phone back together.
  • Do not replace biometrical ID modules like fingerprint scanners, because your device can be blocked afterwards.
  • Avoid using second hand batteries or batteries from unauthorized/no name manufacturers.

If you have to clean slots and openings, like the speaker or the microphone grid or the headphone jack opening, use the compressed air can. Some websites advice to use a cotton swab or an unbend paper clip with duct tape wrapped around its tip. We have an opinion that such tools are of very little help. Cotton can leave lint inside while the clip can seriously damage the inside of the slot.

How to Dry Out Your Phone or Tablet

If your phone or tablet took an unexpected bath, your primary goal is to shake, blow or vacuum as much water out of it as you can.

  • Get your device out of the water and dry it with paper towels, sleeves or tissue napkins.
  • Remove the back panel and the battery if you can.
  • Shake the phone or tablet gently to get rid of water inside. Even phones with water protection beyond IP67 are not immune to leaks.

It has been common knowledge that wet phones should be placed into a container with uncooked rice or silica gel. We are sorry to say that neither the rice or gel work. The best way to dry out a disassembled phone or tablet is to leave it on the shelf or place it in front of a fan. Give your phone or tablet two days to completely dry out.

If you decide to try a vacuum, make sure it is designed to suck water, because most of them aren’t. We personally recommend a compressed air can or at least a rubber bulb, because when it comes to hardware cleaning, blowing is better than sucking. You don’t want to tear any hardware parts with your vacuum.

After a couple of days, when your phone is completely dry, you should wipe the internals of the device with non-lint tissues and isopropyl alcohol to avoid corrosion. Otherwise your survivor may end up dying shortly after. Do not put the dried battery back! It won’t work. Replace it with a new one.

If you’re not sure that you are able to handle any of these tasks, it is then probably best if you bring your device to a professional service to get it cleaned or repaired. We hope this article was interesting and helpful if you do try to attempt any DYI cleaning and repairing at home.

Disclaimer: Remember that professional experts will be able to care about your device much better than you. Anyone should proceed to “Do It Yourself mode” (DIY repair) only if they do not have any access to a professional service. Otherwise, you could even cause more damage than revive your gadget. Remember that any DIY action is always done at one’s own risk.

Links

3 Ways to Remove Scratches from phone [Video]

Video uploaded by BOKIN DIY on April 6, 2017

View Comments (3)

3 Comments

  1. Alex Pageau

    August 13, 2018 at 1:27 am

    Good text and fair disclaimer. When not to do it yourself? A thrifty owner decides to save money by repairing gadgets himself. He starts the job. He blows a circuit and the mother-board. It was me. The story will serve as fair warning for do-it-yourselfers. Trust me, there are times when you just have to call a professional. Do-it-yourself jobs are for jobs that can be made with inexpensive tools and materials, that require few skills, such as patching dents and so on. Jobs to hire out should be performed by a professionals, as well as repairs with expensive materials. On the other hand, do-it-yourself kits and protocols are economical. But today’s prices are reasonable. Well, there is also the satisfaction you’ll get if you make it go again with your own hands.

  2. Handyman

    August 18, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    You must decide when to fix it, when to toss it, and trust me as I’m a Handyman on everything from answering machines to VCRs, from smartphones to iMacs. And yes, deciding whether to fix a faulty cell phone or trash a broken Acer computer can be a bewildering experience. Often what ails electronic equipment is minor: a stretched belt or not enough lubricant, for example. But if the warranty has run out on your computer, labor costs to repair it can be hefty. Manufacturers often quote labor charges $100 o4 much more to fix out-of-warranty equipment. And even getting an estimate on the job can cost as much a $80 or more, though most repair shops will deduct that cost from the bill if you have them do the work.

    Because electronic equipment repairs can be costly, you may be better off simply tossing out that broken cheap old computer or TV. Experts know well when to junk an appliance and when to go ahead and have it repaired. I’be been in the electronics repair business for nearly 30 years, so I know what I’m saying. One rule of thumbs applies to all electronic machinery: If it’s had a voltage surge, replace it. Fixing it is too costly!

  3. Marcos

    August 19, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    I used to repair answering machines. Answering machines’ average life was about 5 years, aside from the batteries wearing down, the most common problem was a stretched manual drive belt and in some cases batteries cost up to $30 to repair. Today they are obsolete, so if you have one, toss it, except for the antic models without even computer-chip memories, as repairs can cost more than buying a smartphone. Replace obsolete machines, no matter what, toss it, too, if the warranty has expired and the item is not an antiquity. The same with camcorder (wow, the were a gold mine 20 years ago, required cleaning and readjusting of motor and heads once a year or more often. They wore fast and wear and tear could cause gears to jam and tape heads to clog, some very costly models had all the bells and whistles. The same for the compact disk players, which could last from 1 year to up to 7 years for the most expensive models. Optical blocks (which supplied the machine the power to read the disk) broke often, as well as the sled motor, which drove the unit in and out. As to television, their life is longer, but they become obsolete every 5 years or so. Components producing power and heat get the most use, such as high-voltage transistors, resistors and transformers. Get rid of fuzzy pictures. VCR last from 2 years (the less expensive models) or up to 20 years for the most expensive models. Frequently using a non-abrasive head-cleaner helped prolong the machine’s life. Repair bills were really high.

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