20/10/2021

Smartphone Repair Kits - A Beginners Guide

In 2020, homes and businesses in the UK generated 1.45 million tonnes of electrical waste and globally, we replace around 250 million mobiles every year. According to Cybercrew's statistics, 82.9% of the UK now use a smartphone and we're not far from reaching a point of saturation. Research from Plymouth University suggests that 10-15 kg of ore must be mined to manufacture just one new phone. By mining ore, we damage the planet, contributing to sinkholes, deforestation and contamination of ground, soil and water.

The majority of devices are not recycled. According to a recent study, households in the UK have now accumulated around 55,000,000 discarded phones.

At Repair Outlet, we believe in making phones last longer, so we’ve put together a handy checklist of all the essentials you need to repair your device on a budget.

Screwdriver kit

For most repairs, you’ll need to access the components under the screen. Some smartphone manufacturers use external screws to secure their devices, and screwdrivers are essential tools when removing them. All devices feature internal screws. Make sure you purchase the correct screwdriver for your smartphone. Since the release of the iPhone 5 in 2012, 5-Point Pentalobe Screws have been a permanent fixture in Apple products. Pentalobe screws may only be removed using a special Pentalobe screwdriver. The Google Pixel, meanwhile, uses T5 screws, which require a T5 Torx screwdriver.

Budget tip!

You don’t have to have the best quality screwdriver to carry out the repair to a high standard, any budget screwdriver that fits the screws will work. Desk lamps and magnifying glasses are useful when adjusting the angle of the screwdriver.

Heat gun

To separate the screen from the rest of the device, the adhesive seal must be broken. Adhesives decrease in strength when temperature is increased. A heat gun is a great way to soften the adhesive before prying away the screen.

Budget tip!

Heat guns can be expensive. Try using a hair dryer to soften the adhesive around your phone. Hold the hair dryer close to the phone and apply a low amount of heat. Slowly move the hairdryer around. Increase heat if necessary.

Suction cup

When a suction cup is sealed against a surface, air is released and a region of low pressure is formed inside the suction area. By attaching the suction cup to the phone and applying gentle pressure, you can begin to detach the screen. Suction cup pliers are particularly useful, allowing you to attach one suction cup to either side of the device, and squeeze to separate the screen from the rest of the phone.

Budget tip!

If you don’t have a suction cup or suction pliers, try using a thin blade to separate the screen from the rest of the smartphone. After heating the adhesive, insert the tip of the blade into the base of the phone and move it around gently. Use a small tool, such as a spudger, to pry the screen away.

Spudgers

Spudgers are small tools with a wide flat head at one end, and a point or hook at the other. Perfect for detaching small parts, probing and removing excess adhesive, spudgers are an essential part of any smartphone repair kit. Make sure your spudger is anti-static and non-conductive.

Budget tip!

If you’re in a rush or on a budget, old guitar picks and credit cards make great substitutes for spudgers. Playing cards are also useful.

Magnetic mat

There are many small components involved in the manufacture of smartphones. Keep track of screws and IC chips with a magnetic mat. We recommend buying a mat which is heat resistant, preferably with separate compartments to prevent mixing up components. Whiteboard markers are a great way to label compartments.

Magnifying glass

Smartphone repair is often a delicate process. Many components are tiny and look alike, making magnifying glasses invaluable, even for those of us with sharp eyesight. If you wear glasses, consider adding a clip-on jeweller’s eye loupe to your smartphone repair kit. Adjustable desk lamps are also useful.

Budget tip!

If you don’t have a desk lamp when fixing your device, try using a headlamp. Small, portable and powerful, headlamps work just as well as desk lamps, if not better!

Anti-static brush

Remove dust and debris from your smartphone with an anti-static brush. Making sure your brush is anti-static is crucial to prevent damage to the device’s circuitry.

Budget tip!

Try using an unused toothbrush or paintbrush to clean your device. Brushes with softer bristles work best.

Our top tip

Only attempt a smartphone repair if you feel that you are equipped to do so and you've done your homework. Before disassembling your device, try cleaning the exterior in between any buttons with an anti-static brush. If your smartphone's perfomance dropped, check for software issues first by powering the device down and performing a hard reset and make sure to check for any software updates.

Devices range in complexity. More modern devices such as the Galaxy S6 Edge + and newer, for example, are notoriously difficult to disassemble. The LCD screen is merged with the touch screen, and separating components without damaging rear glass can be tricky. Older smartphones, in comparison, are usually more repair friendly. If in doubt, check out our guide to phone repairs to consider alternatives and use a professional repair service!

This article was written by Hannah Jackson from Repair Outlet - the largest supplier of mobile phone parts in the UK, and also a provider of device repair services.

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