Disemboweling a Phone. And Emboweling it again.

For about two weeks I won’t post too much, since being healthy again means I am playing catch-up with my garden. More on that later, perhaps. Lets just say for now that after six weeks spent mostly in bed, two hours of manual work feel like ten and the results are underwhelming.  So this week is it work and next week I am on holiday in a hotel which has, from experience, crappy internet connection.

So today instead of a Slavic Saturday, which always takes a lot of time to write, just a short anecdote.

Whan I was sick, I dropped my phone on concrete floor. It hit it with one edge and a plastic corner component chipped off. I wanted to glue it back as soon as I get well – but I dropped the phone again and it fell on that very same edge second time. And due to the lacking plastic part to soften the blow, the display cracked. Phone dead, Charly sad.

I bought a new phone immediately, but I loathe throwing things just away so I looked into if the old one can be repaired – either to keep it asa  spare, or to use it as camera in workshop so as not to damage my actual camera with dust and humidity. I requested an offer from company specializing in repairing smartphones, but their answer was “sorry, we do not support this type”. Not wanting to waste too much time asking around,  I googled just a bit more and coincidentally and I found that for  60,-€ I can buy a new display and special glue. I also found some videos about how to replace the display. So I decided to try my hand at repairing it myself. 60,-€ is not exactly little money – for perspective, it is about 6-8% of median net income in CZ – but it is little enough for me to be willing to risk it.

Removed back – the bowels of the machine are exposed.

First thing was to remove the glued-up back cover, which was achieved with the use of brute force and an old screwdriver. I have managed it without damaging any of the innards. Which is lucky, because I have done this actually before I decided to try to repair the phone, at a time when I was resigned to toss it – I just wanted to look inside for curiosity’s sake and thus I was not very careful.

Removed battery and untangled cables.

Second step was to carefully unclip the battery connector (which is surprisingly tiny) and carefully remove the battery. This proved difficult, because it was held in place with double-sided adhesive tape. I have scratched the black paint over the printed circuit behind it a bit, but luckily not too much and without damaging the conductors. After the battery was removed, I had to carefully untangle the intricately folded cables at the bottom near the charing connector, where the display cable connector is clipped onto them. Very, very intricate work, and there were some very tiny screws that did not want to budge – especially since I do not in fact own the right screw driver for those. But I managed it in the end.

Cracked display removed.

After losing about half an hour searching for our hair dryer, which nobody in the family uses much, I managed to find it and I have used it to heat up the edges of the display to soften the glue a bit. More brute force was used to pry it off, damaging it even more in the process. Once it was removed, I have taken one of my sharp tiny flat screw drivers and I cleaned away thoroughly any residual glue on the phone itself.

Glueing up the new display.

I inserted the new display in, connected it and the battery and tried whether it works or not. It did, so I unplugged it again and applied glue on all the places where it previously was applied. The glue had to harden for three hours under slight pressure, so I have put some plastic clamps on it and went bout other business. After three hours, I folded back all the intricate cables, clipped back all the clips, screwed all the screws, connected the battery and glued back the cover. And left it again for a few hours with clamps.

Its alive! Now kill it with fire…. Or not.

And success! It works. There are some funny coloured spots on the display, whether because it is a cheap non original spare or because I applied too much pressure during the repair I do not know, but apart from that it seems to work perfectly well and all funcionalities are there – the camera is cameraing, the speaker is speaking, the telephone is telephoning and the display is displaying.

I actually really felt like I did something worth doing.


  1. Ice Swimmer says

    Impressive indeed. I would have been discouraged by the mechanical structure of the phone.

    I wonder what is the function of the black paint on the PCB you mentioned, is it insulator, conductive paint for RF shielding or is it for some other purpose?

  2. Jazzlet says

    Good work Charly!

    It is very satisfying repairing something that you didn’t know you could repair. Partly because of the dogs bringing mud on their coats at some times of the year we get a lot of dust, enough in combination with the dogs hair to cause problems with computer fans clogging up. This obviously leads to overheating which is not good. I managed all by myself to open up my last laptop and clean out an incredible amount of fluff. Maybe a trivial thing for someone used to building their own computers, but for me it was a big deal and I was chuffed to bits with myself.

    Nice screw driver roll by the way.

  3. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Conga-rats on repairing your phone. I’ve upgrade electronic equipment from computers to ipods over the years, and not being afraid to see its insides is always the first step.

  4. says

    Yay, good as new!
    I’ve been unlucky with phone accidents during the last years. The phone before this one fell into a toilet before it was 4 weeks old. It kept working with some slight screen malfunction, but apparently the contacts had taken some damage and after a year or so I first lost the SD slot and then the SIM slot. It is still in use by the little one who plays Pokemon Go on it, hooked up via my phone hotspot.
    The replacement I bought “downloaded the Spiderman app”. I always have a protective cover and a screen protector, and the damn thing dropped about 30cm, but the display cracked, though it’s still usable.

  5. Ice Swimmer says

    Giliell @ 6

    You were lucky in your unluck. The first smartphone I bought stopped working when my friend, to whom I gave it when I got a new one, dropped it in toilet by accident. It was dead after that. The biggest part of the problem wasn’t actually that the phone stopped working, but the fact that the phone (only certain models were feasible, due to price and the necessary features) he bought as a replacement has too little storage and he’s having big problems with that. If the phone would have stopped working 6 months or a year after that, he could have bought a phone that would still be fine for his use.

Leave a Reply