Having a broken touchscreen phone repaired professionally can be expensive. However, the replacement parts and tools required to do the job will usually only form a small fraction of the overall bill. Businesses which deal in mobile phone repairs need to make a profit and have overheads to cover, and this is reflected in the amount they charge for their services. An amateur attempting to repair the same phone has no such costs to consider, meaning they will usually need to spend far less money to get it working again.
Assessing the Phone
There is little point attempting to fix a phone that will subsequently be worth less than the cost of the repair. Therefore, the first step should be to ascertain the value of the phone in its current state, its value once repaired, and the cost of the parts and tools to fix it. Following this, a quick calculation will reveal whether it is better to replace the phone with a similar new or used model. If this is the case, the broken phone can then be sold for parts or as a damaged/repairable device.
Ordering the Parts and Tools
On a touchscreen mobile phone, the screen is actually two separate components. The outer component, known as the digitiser, is usually the most easily broken. If the display still seems to work, but the touch facility is functioning erratically, then only the digitiser should need replacing. However, if the display has also stopped working, both components will likely need replacing. Where there is any uncertainty over which particular components have been damaged, it will be necessary to dismantle the phone to establish this. Those with sufficient patience, and a gentle touch, should be able to separate the digitiser and display without damaging the essential gasket between them. Those with less patience and dexterity should probably order the correct thickness of adhesive mobile phone tape, designed specifically to replace this gasket. To protect the motherboard from static electricity, purchasing an anti-static wrist strap is also recommended. This must be worn correctly throughout any part of the repair where there is a risk of contacting the motherboard's components. Most vendors of mobile phone parts should be able to advise on which tools a particular device will require to replace the touchscreen. It is often cheaper to buy a dedicated mobile phone repair toolkit rather than purchasing the tools individually.
Repairing the Phone
Provided the repair is carried out in a methodical manner, most people should be able to replace a broken mobile phone touchscreen. Should the repairer get stuck, they can always reassemble the phone and take it, along with any replacement parts, to a professional.
Before Beginning the Repair
Collect together the phone, replacement touchscreen, repair tools, a camera, a hairdryer, some envelopes, and a pen. The camera will be used to record the position of the various components as they are removed from the phone. This can prove invaluable upon reassembly. The hairdryer is used for separating components which have been glued together. The envelopes and pen are used for labelling and storing the components and fasteners as they are removed.
Dismantling the Phone
Choose a clean, well lit work area. Remember to work slowly and methodically. Never try to force the components or fasteners. In particular, judicious use of the pry tool is recommended.
Removing the Outer Components
Begin by switching off the phone and removing any covers that are clipped in place using the pry tool. Depending on the device, there may be removable covers for the battery compartment and camera. Sometimes the front and rear casings are also only clipped in place. Place the covers, together with the phone's battery, SD, and SIM cards in an envelope marked 1. Photograph both sides of the phone, and if the camera has the facility to label the images, denote these as 1A and 1B.
Removing the Casing from the Inner Components
At this point, most mobile phones will require the separation of the internal components from the remaining parts of the outer casing. These are normally held together by small Torx screws, which are easily released by the correctly sized Torx screwdriver. Identify which fasteners are holding the casing together. Remove these one at a time, and place them in an envelope marked 2. As these fasteners are so easily lost and replacements so tricky to source, it is important to place them in the envelope as soon as they are released. Once all the Torx fasteners are removed, use the pry tool to gently release any additional clips and encourage the casing away from the internal components. If the casing does is not easily separated, check to see that there are not additional fasteners or clips that have been missed. Photograph both sides of the phone again, denoting the pictures as 2A and 2B.
Separating the Internal Components
The next step is to separate the display from the motherboard. Locate and carefully separate any ribbon connectors joining the two, using a flat screwdriver or pry tool. Often these are secured with tacky strips which will first need to be gently teased away and then temporarily stored on a clean flat surface. Try to avoid contacting the electronic components attached to the motherboard. The motherboard and display are often loosely joined by a thin adhesive, which is normally easily overcome with the pry tool. If the two do not come apart easily, consider warming the joint between them with a hairdryer. Unless extreme caution is exercised, a hot air gun should be avoided as this can easily damage the two components. Once the display and motherboard have been separated, unfold them and take photographs 3A and 3B of both sides. Having recorded the position of their connectors, separate these and place the motherboard and any associated components into an envelope marked 3.
Separating the Digitiser from the Display
A little patience will be required to separate the adhesive bond between these two components. It is very important not to overheat them. Instead, slowly alternate between carefully heating the parts with the hairdryer and gently encouraging them apart with the pry tool. If this is done properly, the gasket in between them should be saved and there should be no need to use any tape. There must be a continuous tape or gasket barrier between the screen and digitiser or the touchscreen will fail to operate correctly. Before finally releasing the digitiser and screen, take photographs 4A and 4B to record how the ribbon cable passes between them.
Fitting the Replacement Digitiser Component
If the gasket has been damaged, use the hairdryer and pry tool to remove all traces of it and apply adhesive tape in its place. Remove any protective film from the new digitiser and thread the ribbon cable around the screen component. Gently heat the adhesive area between the digitiser and phone components and press them together.
Reassembling the Phone
The phone can now be reassembled, working through the envelopes of components in reverse order and referring to the photographs where necessary. Once the phone is back together, power it up and test that the touchscreen is functioning correctly.
Finding Replacement Parts and Repair Tools on eBay
Replacement parts and tools can be easily found on eBay using the powerful browsing and searching tools. The required items can be located by entering a few details into the search bar at the head of every eBay page. For example, to find a replacement touchpad for a Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 simply enter "S5830 touchpad" into the search facility. To browse the full eBay inventory of phone repair merchandise, start with the All Categories menu to the right of the search bar. Follow the Mobile Phones & Communication link and then select Replacement Parts & Tools. Making full use of the options on the left of the page is the key to quickly finding all the items needed for the repair. For example, these can be used to instantly locate every new white Blackberry battery cover in the eBay inventory.
A methodical and patient repairer should find that the task of replacing a broken touchscreen on a mobile phone is not too difficult. As long as the correct parts and tools are ordered and care is taken during the phone's dismantling and reassembly, a broken touchscreen can be fixed for a fraction of the cost of a professional repair.