If you are one of those people who, no matter how careful you are, your smartphone always somehow gets damaged, it can help to be good at basic repairs. This can seriously bring down your replacement and repair bills while at the same time building your skills as an amateur technician. Many models of smartphones have fairly simple repair procedures for most of the parts you care about. From the screen to the speaker jack, it is possible for you to learn how to fix almost everything about your phone at home. Getting good at mobile device repairs in the modern age follows the same logic as learning to repair a car if you were about to take a two-year road trip: the more you use something, the better off you are understanding how to fix it. To that end, the best place to start is by knowing what you’re looking at.
The parts of a phone between models are often quite similar because they need to serve the same purpose. When you can both diagnose the broken piece and identify it in an open device, replacing is usually quick and simple work. Here’s a brief run-down of the most recognizable pieces:
Screen / Digitizer
The part of the phone people are most familiar with is the screen, ie: the big flat part that displays images that you tap all day. The digitizer, on the other hand, is the sensor layer beneath the screen that detects taps. If you’ve been having a hard time using your screen, it’s because the digitizer or its connection is somehow damaged. This often happens when the screen takes damage but can be caused by normal dropping. How easy it is to replace the screen depends on if it’s a single unit with the digitizer. If it isn’t, then replacement is easy and inexpensive. However, it’s not uncommon that the two are fused and replacing a screen-and-digitizer is a lot more trouble.
Older and some alternative style phones still have separate power and data connections, but most now use mini or micro USB connections for both purposes. The USB port is usually nestled into the bottom of your device, though some phones have a top or side connection instead. Because you are constantly plugging and unplugging your phone to charge it and transfer data, it is not uncommon that the USB port will break and need to be replaced.
The Headphone Jack
For some people, the headphone jack is even more used than the charging and data port. Constant attaching and detaching can put stress on the contacts and is only made worse by rigorous activity while connected. If you’re the kind of person who likes to jog and listen to music, for example, you may well find yourself replacing the headphone jack. Even if your jack is fine, occasionally cheap headphone connectors will break off like bee stingers into the smartphone and you may need to open the thing up to get it out.
The battery is the flat heavy thing connected by one corner. Smartphone batteries are one of the leading causes of faultless issues. Your battery can fail or become unreliable even if you have been perfectly careful and never dropped the device or exposed it to extreme temperatures. While replacing the battery is usually a good fix, sometimes letting it drain completely then recharging is the solution. You also want to watch out for faulty battery connectors, which may be jostled loose and begin transferring an insufficient amount of power or none at all.
SIM Card Connector
Your SIM card is usually nestled into a small connector-clasp and often hides below the battery itself, deep within the phone. If the contacts on your connector are damaged, you can lose access to the SIM card and in many ways neutralize all usefulness of the device. It is sometimes possible to do things like press them back into place, but usually you will want to replace the entire clasping dock.
Memory Card Slot
While most devices come with pretty limited local memory, they can also include a little slot for SD memory cards which drastically increase their capabilities. Of course, once you remove the memory card, there go all your saved apps, pictures, etc. Inside your smartphone, it will look like a shiny metal rectangle, often with little ‘windows’ through which you can see the slot and the contacts inside.
The actual internal camera almost never breaks, though cracked lenses are not unheard of. In the rare occasion that you do need to replace your internal camera the process is surprisingly simple. Usually, it is attached by a single cable to the motherboard and the only tricky part is reattaching that with the new camera unit. Small plastic tools like a screen lifter can help you press everything into place.
One of the most frustrating things that can occur with your smartphone is a loose or sticky button. When the buttons don’t work right, the very few buttons you have to work with, the entire phone experience becomes a hassle. While a solution can often be found with software work-arounds, the best way is to simply replace the button mechanism. You may find, in the process of opening up and locating the problem, that it just needs a thorough cleaning.
With a stronger grasp of the inside of your smartphone, you can better prepare yourself for the next time you drop, sit on, or otherwise manage to damage your hard-working mobile device. If you get the phone open, compare model guides and YouTube how-tos and still can’t fix the problem, contact us. We’re always happy to investigate the tough cases.