It has happened to many mobile and smart phone owners: The phone has been dropped or smashed against something hard and the screen has cracked or shattered. Or maybe it has been carried unprotected in a purse, briefcase, or backpack, and the screen is scratched almost beyond recognition. The phone is not due for replacement, but it is no longer covered under warranty. The screen is a mess, and a replacement screen seems to be the right choice. However, the repair quote from the manufacturer is astronomical, and the quote from the repair specialist is almost as costly. Replacing the phone would cost even more, and there would be the headache of transferring all of the data, apps, and settings over to the new phone, as well. What’s a frugal phone owner to do? One answer is to make the repair at home. It is possible to find replacement parts for mobile and smart phones as well as instructions for making common repairs, online. Screen replacement is no exception.
Does It Really Need Replacement? Repairing Scratches in a Mobile Phone Screen
However, before making preparations to replace the screen, make sure that replacement is really necessary. If the glass is cracked or shattered, then yes, there is no alternative to replacing it. However, if the glass is scratched, it may be possible to restore the screen to greater transparency without needing to replace the glass. To smooth out scratches on a mobile phone or smart phone screen, try applying a very small amount of toothpaste and rubbing it in. Alternatively, use a commercially available scratch remover. If the scratches are still a problem, then a screen replacement may be necessary.
Finding the Instructions for Fixing a Mobile Phone Screen
Each brand and model of mobile or smartphone may have a slightly different procedure for replacing the screen. The first step in the process is to find a set of instructions that apply to the specific phone that needs to be repaired. This can be done by searching for keywords like “how to,” “replace screen” and the phone’s brand or model. There are free instructional videos available online for replacing the screens on many types of phones. Written instructions can be helpful as well. With the first read-through, pay special attention to the types of tools that will be needed, and look for any tips that are provided on purchasing the replacement parts. For example, will adhesive strips or a digitiser need to be packaged with the new screen?
The Right Tools for Fixing the Screen on a Mobile or Smart Phone
Regardless of the type of phone involved, it is a good bet that the phone’s body will need to be disassembled in order to replace the screen. For that, the right size and type of screwdriver bit will be an absolute necessity. Different types of phones use different types of bits. Some phones are held together with simple slotted screws or common Phillip’s head screws. However, many phones use screw heads with less common shapes, such as hex, square, and triangular. Some require specialised Torx, Torx Security, Pentalobe, JIS, or Tri-wing bits. The screws in a mobile or smart phone are usually very small in diameter, and that affects the types of screwdrivers and bits needed, as well. To pick up the small diameter screws, tweezers and small grabbers can be helpful. A magnetic pad can keep them in place and in order while the phone is disassembled. A suction cup can help to gently ease the screen off once the mechanical fasteners have been removed. Finally, it is always a good idea to use an anti-static cuff when working with electronics. Static electricity can fry the sensitive circuits that will be exposed when the phone is disassembled.
The Right Parts for Fixing the Screen on a Mobile or Smart Phone
Before searching for the right replacement part or parts, take a good look at the broken screen. Measure it, and note any curvature or other distinguishing characteristics. Even though the replacement part will likely be fully labelled, it is helpful to know what to look for as a way to confirm the selection. In order to find the right replacement parts, review the instructions for screen replacement on the specific phone in question. Look for pictures, and take the phone apart to see what is attached to the screen. Sometimes the screen is part of an assembly rather than being an independent, simple piece of glass. If it is part of an assembly that cannot easily be taken apart, then look for a replacement that includes the parts that are difficult or impossible to separate from the screen.
The Importance of Backing Up
A screen replacement is a fairly serious repair. The phone will be in pieces, and there is always a risk that it will be damaged while it is disassembled. If it is still functional, make sure that the phone, including all of its data and apps, is backed up onto a computer, a cloud backup, a USB drive, or a hard drive before attempting to repair it. In fact, it is a good idea to print out important personal information such as the calendar, contacts, and any passwords that are not well memorised.
A Few Words of Caution
First, do not attempt this repair unless the phone is expendable. There is always a risk that attempting something like this will do more harm than good. Start by clearing off a large area to work. Make sure that there is a protected area to store the tiny screws and any other parts that need to be removed. Set out a camera to record the process and a piece of paper and pencil to write with. When disassembling the phone, do not force anything; if something won’t budge, look for hidden screws. If there is stubborn adhesive, it may be necessary to use a little heat to soften it. Always protect against static electricity, and document everything. Take a few digital photos of the process. Write down the steps. Do whatever is necessary to remember what goes where. Finally, do not leave the phone disassembled overnight. Put it back together if more or different parts are needed. Leaving this type of project sitting out is a recipe for disaster.
Having the manufacturer or a professional replace the glass screen on a mobile or smart phone can cost quite a bit of money. With a good set of instructions, the right tools, and the right replacement parts for the specific phone, it is possible to do this repair at home for a fraction of the cost. Why not take the time to research the method and materials needed, order them online and take care of the problem quickly and cheaply? Just remember to back up the phone, use an anti-static cuff and document the disassembly procedure so that the phone will be easy to reassemble.