I would say I’m someone who doesn’t take care of his belongings very well. With that and bad luck, my two most recent phones (Sony Ericsson Xperia Play and Motorola Atrix) have suffered hardware issues, from a malfunctioning digitizer (the touch screen) on the Play to a cracked digitizer (I dropped it) on the Atrix.
And as I didn’t have plans to switch to a new phone, I decided to look for ways to repair them. A quick check at shops outside indicate the repair cost to be ~$120 and above, which is definitely out of budget for me. And since I’m naturally curious tech-wise.. I ended up repairing them myself!
Engineer at work!
The process was much easier than I expected – I followed the disassembly videos (which can be found on YouTube by searching “<phone name> repair”) step by step, and I was able to easily remove the components one by one. I purchased the digitizers for both phones through eBay at affordable prices of US$20-30 (~S$30-40), which is definitely cheaper than the repair prices at phone shops. (Also, remember to select the vendors that gives free screwdrivers and pry tools together with the component to be purchased, as the screws on the phones uses an uncommon hexagon head.) The only thing that I have to take care of is the careful handling of the small parts, so that I won’t break any cables/parts in the process.
The repairing experience on both phones gave me an interesting inside look into how the phones were constructed. The Xperia Play is one of the few slider design phones (along with other physical keyboard slider phones like the Desire Z), and there was actually only one power/data cable connecting the two bodies. The Atrix’s internals has a very compact and interesting design (see picture above – the motherboard is the small L-shaped body at the top left). It’s really amazing how they designed the placements of the various components to fit so many things into the small, thin package that is our smartphone.
I definitely wouldn’t mind repairing phones myself in the future.
On a side note, if you’re a Motorola Atrix owner, the really awesome folks over at xda-developers have managed to cook up an almost fully functioning 3.1.10 kernel, providing the Atrix with a stable version of Android 4.2 (which many phones of 2011 are unable to be upgraded to). It’s definitely worth the upgrade (though I haven’t done so due to the lack of HDMI), so check it out!