If a girl can do it, then so can I. That was
my thought after watching a video where
the protective glass on a
Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone (see below).
Just kidding, of course, but I like to ruffle feathers. Anyway, my daughter, Sally, owns
and runs a horse riding academy (Equine Kingdom) and does
a lot of hard, heavy work that would exhaust many men. Her daily lesson scheduling is
done with her smartphone. It spends most of the day in her pocket, or on the ground after
being dropped. If anyone can break a phone being protected by an
OtterBox, it's Sally, and she did just that.
She thought the LCD display was broken, but fortunately it was just the protective
glass cover on the front. Replacements cost $10-$12 on Amazon, but the procedure of removing
the original glass without destroying the underlying LCD and/or touch sensor (digitizer)
requires a level of fineness that most people are not willing to attempt. An entire replacement
display assembly costs $175-$200. Most people live with the cracked glass since local
repair center will charge somewhere just south of $100 to do it for you.
After watching a couple videos, I confidently
ordered a glass replacement kit made by Eco Fused for a mere $20. It includes specialty
tools that by themselves would cost more than $20 if purchased separately, including
really nice tweezers (as if I need another pair!). There
are two types of repair; one involves re-gluing the glass to the LCD using UV glue, and
the other uses double-sided tape. This kit uses tape. It's much less prone to screwing
everything up after going through the grueling process of removing the old glass. A benefit
is if the glass breaks again, it'll be much easier to replace. The bad (potentially)
thing is if you don't do the cleaning and tape just right, the digitizer will not function
through the non-bonded glass interface.
After removing the phone's battery, SIM card
and memory card, I lightly clamped the body in a heavy drill press clamp in order to
hold it securely while not having to wear heat-proof gloves while softening the adhesive.
The heat gun I've had for three decades and was made to shrink the Mylar covering (MonoKote)
I use on my model airplanes did the job just fine, while a thermocouple attached to my
DMM monitored the temperature to make sure I did not get above the 200°F maximum.
An X-acto blade was used to pry up the top left corner of the glass and then one of the
included plastic guitar picks as wedged under it to maintain an upward force. The included
thin wire was then threaded under the glass and, along with a continual waving of the
heat gun and monitoring the temperature, about half an hour later the glass was completely
detached. It is a long, slow process.
Most of the residual adhesive came off with cotton
swabs (aka Q-tips) and isopropyl alcohol, but a couple spots were really thick so I had
to use the heat gun and one of the plastic guitar picks to scrape it off. Then, alcohol
easily took off the rest. All of the old glue had to be removed from around the case
edges and around the switches, camera, speaker, etc. That was no big deal, but care was
needed to not get alcohol into or on the accessories. A final cleaning with Windex left
the LCD spotless and dust-free.
The 2-mm double-sided tape was laid down along
the perimeter and around the accessories as directed in the instructions. Finally, the
replacement glass was set in place pressed down in the tape areas. I replaced the battery
and cards, pressed the power button, crossed my fingers and held my breath. The Galaxy
S4 booted up like usual, and all of the controls seem to be working as before. Finger
swiping gestures and presses all appear to be responded to appropriately. It appears
I managed to pull off a successful repair! Sally will certainly be relieved.
If I can do it, then so probably can you - even if you're a girl ;-)
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