Replacing a Smartphone Screen

When my phone slipped out of my pocket and landed on brick, the shiny touch screen shattered instantly. In a second, it gained new textures. I got sad. I got even sadder when I remembered that I had rejected the broken screen coverage offered by my carrier.

Eventually, I realized that it wasn’t the end of the world to break the screen on a phone, for a few reasons:

  • The screen replacement coverage seems to have a deductible, of perhaps $100 (Since I didn’t have the coverage, I didn’t look into it too carefully)
  • Taking the phone to a store and having it done would cost about $100, and would take a day or two for it to be returned.
  • Buying a replacement screen online is possible, at a fraction of the replacement service cost.
  • Replacing the screen yourself is possible, at a cost of $0, plus the relatively small cost of the screen and a few tools.

What I chose to do was buy the screen, and replace it myself. Though I had heard of people doing it, I had never had a broken screen. This is only the third phone I’ve owned, and the other ones never fell in just the right way.

There are many guides available to repair lots of the popular phones available. Ifixit and Instructables are good places to start. You can find videos explaining how to remove your screen, how to break it, how to disassemble your phone and much more. Although this video explains how to disassemble the rest of the phone, but not the screen, it was very informative. If you are wondering about the wonders of Gorilla Glass, check this longer video for an explanation and some festive experimentation.

Safety glasses, hair dryer, Circuit City gift card, screen replacement tool kit including: plastic pry tools, guitar pick, screw driver, work gloves,
Replacement screen, rubbing alcohol to clean the screen, packing tape
Plan on spending at least an hour to do this project for the first time.
Remove the phone’s battery.
Wear your safety glasses! This process will cause the glass to crack and shatter more. You don’t want these parts in your eyes. When you are done, clean the area with a vacuum or wet cloth to remove glass shards.
Put a circle of tape on the back of the phone to hold it to a sheet of cardboard to keep it in place.
Using the hair dryer, heat up the adhesive holding the screen to the phone
When the adhesive is soft, pry the screen up and off the phone. You may find that some of the tools work better than others. I found that after most of the screen was off, I needed the longer Circuit City gift card to get the center of the screen to release.

When all of the glass is removed, clean the digitizer with a micro fiber cloth and some rubbing alcohol or lens cleaner.
Replace the screen, placing the buttons back in place as needed. Each phone model is a bit different, so yours may not even have the two buttons mine did.
When you have everything back together, put the battery back in, turn it on, and enjoy your reborn phone.

There are photos of this project.

About Chris Connors

Making things is the best way to learn about our world.
This entry was posted in Manufacturing, Repair, TakeApart and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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