A problem with a mobile or smart phone's keyboard can be a frustrating issue. Maybe the whole keyboard is not as sensitive as it once was. Maybe there are a few keys that have stopped working or that only work sporadically. It is not time to replace the phone yet; it still needs to be nursed along for a while longer. However, if the device is past its warranty, then having the keyboard fixed by the phone’s manufacturer would cost almost as much as replacing the phone. Having it repaired at a specialised shop would be almost as dear. What’s a mobile phone using, keyboard-dependent person to do? One option is to replace the keyboard at home, using tools and parts purchased on the internet. This can be done for a fraction of the expense of hiring a specialist, even considering the cost of the tools, which can usually be reused for other electronics repair projects.
Try These Quick Fixes Before Replacing the Keyboard
With most mobile and smart phone keyboards, one unresponsive button means that the whole keyboard needs to be replaced, as it is a single unit that cannot effectively be disassembled and reassembled by hand. However, before committing to a full keyboard replacement, make sure that it really does need a new keyboard. Perhaps the button or buttons that are causing problems can be repaired without the trouble and expense of a full keyboard replacement. First, make sure that the keyboard problem is not a software issue. If the keyboard suddenly stopped working all at once, if it didn’t gradually deteriorate, and if there are not just a few buttons that don’t work well, then there’s a very good chance that the problem is related to the phone’s operating system and keyboard driver. This is especially likely if the phone has just had an update. If this seems like a strong possibility, then search the web for people having similar problems, call the technical support department for the company that makes the phone, or try a driver upgrade or patch. Always eliminate the possibility of a software problem before opening up the phone. Perhaps the keyboard issue is, very obviously, a hardware problem. There are still a few things that can be done to try to fix it before going to a full keyboard replacement. First, try cleaning around the keyboard, first with the phone assembled and then with it disassembled, with compressed air. Try to clear any debris that may have collected inside the keyboard, between the keys or under the keys. If that doesn’t work, then very carefully clean the keyboard and the area around it with alcohol or a specialised electronics cleaner. While cleaning, look for anything that may have shifted, wrinkled, or otherwise moved in a way that might impair its function. Try to correct any obvious problems. If cleaning the phone and making adjustments to the existing keyboard does not fix the problem, then it is time to research how to replace the keyboard.
Finding the Instructions for Replacing the Mobile or Smart Phone’s Keyboard
Each brand and model of mobile or smart phone is a little different. That’s why it is so important to research the method for replacing the keyboard before buying the tools or the parts. There are free videos available online showing how to replace the keyboards on many popular digital devices, including mobile and smartphones. Having a few different sets of instructions, both written instructions and video demonstrations, is best. When reviewing them, write down each tool needed, and make sure to become familiar with all of the parts that make up the keyboard assembly. If it is possible to replace part of the keyboard assembly without replacing the whole thing, then try to determine which part needs replacement. For example, the contact pad may be the source of a problem with sensitivity.
What Tools Will be Needed To Replace the Keyboard?
Once the instructions have been reviewed carefully, it should be fairly easy to determine which tools are needed. If the phone has already been disassembled for keyboard cleaning, then obviously the screwdriver bits needed to take it apart are already at hand. If not, then purchase small screwdrivers or screwdriver bits with the right type and size head. Depending on the phone model, these bits may be easy to find and inexpensive or rarer and more costly. If there is not an anti-static cuff at hand, then that is also a good candidate for purchase. Precision tweezers can be helpful in handling the small screws that will have to be removed from the phone, and they are especially handy for people with large hands. Finally, a selection of spare screws, washers, and nuts never goes amiss.
Finding the Right Replacement Keyboard
Chances are, a very specific component designed for the phone’s make and model will be needed as a replacement part. The instructions for replacing the keyboard on the phone in question should have provided the information on exactly what the new keyboard assembly will need to include. Now, the best way to find the correct replacement part is simply to search for a keyboard by the phone’s brand and model. The most obvious thing to do is to seek out a new replacement part that is compatible with the phone. Alternatively, look for a broken phone that can be disassembled for parts.
Back Up and Be Careful
Once the tools and the correct replacement part are in hand, it is time to start work on the keyboard replacement. There is only one other thing that needs to be done first: The phone should be backed up. Make sure that all of the phone’s data and applications are saved elsewhere, and print out copies of any difficult to replace contact information, calendar information, or user IDs and passwords. Have a plan prepared in case the phone ends up unusable. There is always risk involved in repairing a sensitive, miniature electronic device like a phone keyboard, especially for those who are not experienced in making this type of repair.
Tips and Tricks
Keep these tips and tricks in mind while replacing the faulty keyboard on a mobile or smart phone. First, do not attempt the repair at home if the phone is still under warranty or if breaking it beyond repair would be a catastrophe. If the phone is under warranty, then have the manufacturer fix it. Opening it up will void the warranty. If the phone cannot be easily replaced, then consider trusting it to a professional. Second, prepare the workspace before beginning the repair. Make sure that the tiny parts that will be removed from the phone have a place where they can rest, secure, well sorted, and, preferably, labelled. Make sure that there is enough room to work. Third, document the process of disassembling the phone in a notebook, in photos or both. It may be complex, and it may be easy to forget how to reassemble it. Finally, always use a grounded antistatic cuff while working on electronics. Static electricity can destroy the sensitive circuits in a phone.
Replacing a damaged or faulty mobile phone keyboard at home requires a bit of research, the right tools, and the right replacement parts. There is some risk and some effort involved. However, it can save money and make a well-used, out of warranty phone last a little longer. Owning the tools is useful, and learning how to make this type of repair can be a really satisfying experience.