Whoops. That’s what happens when an ‘indestructible’ AMOLED screen meets a stone driveway. To be fair, it must have to meet it at just the wrong angle, because I’ve dropped it zillions of times before without so much as a scratch. Impressively, despite the cracks covering the entire screen, and one point where there was an actual hole going right through it, the touch screen and display still worked perfectly. What about fixing it though?
The glass, screen and digitizer on these are well and truly fixed together, so there’s no way of replacing just one of those components, which makes it quite an expensive bit of glass to break. I ordered a new one and set to work. The first job is getting inside, which is relatively easy – 7 screws come out, and then you can prise off the inner plastic cover.
What you have now is a motherboard, with three ribbon cables coming through it. The largest of these is the one coming from the screen/digitizer below, and that’s the only one that really needs disconnecting. However, the one nearest the battery comes from the lower buttons and goes right under the screen. Mine was stuck to the back of the screen with the glue, and would have been quite likely to get broken if I’d have left it connected, so I was glad I disconnected all three.
The next job is to detach the screen from the surround. It comes out forwards, and is glued in there. I have no idea how you’d get this out if it wasn’t already somewhat broken, and I can’t imagine being able to get a working unit out in one piece. It might be possible though. Anyway, in my case, because of the convenient existing hole in the glass, it was pretty easy to just chisel lots of it out with a screwdriver – quite a lot of it flying into my eyes in small pieces, but never mind. That left enough room to get under it and gently prise the rest of it out. You could probably do things like heating the glue a bit to make it easier but I didn’t need to.
Now the trickiest bit. Look at the picture – the bit on the right is the back of the digitizer, with the some of the glass removed so it easily comes away from the phone. But you can see at the far end the sensors (and lights) for the two buttons, which are flimsy ribbon-cable type things, and stuck to the back of the digitizer with the glue that held the screen in. They need removing from there very carefully indeed.
Now we have everything in pieces, or at least as far as we need to go. All that remains is to stick the new screen into place and connect everything back together. Putting it all together is dead easy compared to taking it apart – the only question being what to stick the screen back in with. I only had superglue, so I used that. I don’t fancy my chances of getting it off again though, so I don’t recommend it.
Given that you’re having to glue it back together, it’s a very good idea to make sure the new part works properly, and that you haven’t broken any old ones, before you do it. By plugging in the screen’s ribbon cable from the wrong side of the motherboard, you can actually fire everything up and test it without reassembling anything. According to the on-screen clock it took only an hour to get to this point, from starting, and that includes fending off three small children throughout. From here to a completely reassembled phone is 5 minutes at most.