Mobile Device Repair Projects

Mobile devices are even worse than laptops when it comes to upgrading or repairing. It makes sense when you consider the size of the devices which means that they are almost completely comprised of custom made parts. Pretty much all phones and tablets cannot be upgraded at all. Aside from things like cases or add on batteries nothing can be done for the hardware side.

Custom Operating Systems Experience

The software side is a different story altogether though, and upgrades to the software can make a noticeable difference in your phones performance. I have rooted and installed custom operating systems on all of my Android devices. This has included Samsung Galaxy S (on four different devices), Samsung Galaxy Tab, Nexus 7 2012, Samsung Galaxy S3, and some cheap-o tablet that I cannot even remember the name of.

Repairing Devices

Mobile devices vary greatly on what can be repaired and what cannot. A lot of times it simply comes down to the cost of replacement parts versus purchasing a new device. One thing that is common though is replacing the screen or display.

Even this can vary from device to device though. All mobile devices have a cover over the display, usually made of glass, called a digitizer. This is what sends your touch commands to the system, and is usually what is actually broken when your screen cracks. Usually the actual display is fine, and does not need to be replaced.

The problem is that these digitizers are almost always fused to the display. Sometimes the digitzer can be separated from the display using a heat gun after which you can just overlay a new digitizer. Digitizers are generally cheap, which is good, but they are not always easy to remove. Worst case scenario is you try anyways since the alternative is replacing the whole display assembly (screen with digitzer), or the entire device itself.

I have replaced a few digitizers in my time, all Android devices except for one Windows phone. I had mixed results among them.

My first attempt, on a Galaxy Tab, I did not have a heat gun yet and so I used a blow dryer. That is both good and bad - good is that it is almost impossible to overheat the display which can ruin it, but bad because it takes a long, long time to loosen the digitizer from the display. I was successful on my first attempt, but due to either a cheap digitizer or my work there were tiny pockets of air here and there. This made touch commands hit and miss in some areas, but overall it worked.

My second attempt was on a Samsung Galaxy S3. I bought a heat gun for this job (and to have for future needs), and so it went quicker though not necessarily better. Heat guns can ruin the display underneath the digitizer if too much heat is applied. So there is definitely a delicated balance in applying enough heat to get the digitizer up, but not so much that the you ruin the display. While I didn't completely ruin my display on the Galaxy S3, I did create some discoloring in it in some spots. I still use this device so overall it was a success, but I definitely need more practice with the heat gun.

My other attempt was on a Windows phone, a Noke Lumia 1520. I knew from the outset that it was next to impossible to separate the digitizer from the display since almost every article or forum post stated this. Again though, worst case scenario is replacing the entire display assembly or phone which you would have to do anyways. So I tried. It was a disaster. The digitizer had multiple layers, and was not just one solid piece. This was especially problematic once I got down to the final layer or two since that did not leave much protection for the actual display. So naturally the display, while still able to turn on, would not show anything since the heat had ruined the panels ability to display colors.

In Conclusion....

All in all, I have tons of experience tinkering with Android devices. Apple devices, not so much. I can root almost any Android device, as well as install a custom operating system. I have repaired a few screens or digitizers for mobile devices as well. I grab up any devices from friends or family who are done using them due to an upgrade so that I can gain more experience.

I have taken some pictures of my digitizer repairs, and I will document even more should I do them in the future. You can find them on my Facebook page - Echoes Tech Services Photo Stream. Also, if you wish to contact me regarding my mobile device repairs portfolio then pelase email me here - portfolio@s1lentechoes.com