Smashing your phone screen by dropping it on the pavement like a goof doesn’t have to invite hardware shame followed by a screen repair bill. Alternatively, it can result in hardware shame followed by a cheaper DIY recall.
And while at-home screen repair kits traditionally include aftermarket parts (with the occasional hazard of a phone transplant rejection), witnessed this spring apple And the The Google Make their own components available for tampering types.
The latter’s partnership with iFixit to sell Pixel phone parts became personally interesting at the end of September when it broke Pixel 5a the screen Drop it on the sidewalk(Opens in a new window) like an asshole.
Tools inside the Pixel 5a iFixit suite. (credit: Rob Bigoraro)
Especially since iFixit charges $99.99 Pixel 5a Screen Repair Kit(Opens in a new window)well below $236.35 (after credit for returning broken parts) at Apple Self Service Repair Shop(Opens in a new window) For an iPhone 12 or 13 screen kit with a slightly smaller screen.
Uncomfortably enough, my iFixit 5a screen repair kit sold out two days before my losing battle with gravity. “Sales have exceeded expectations,” wrote Kyle Wiens, CEO, apologizing when I emailed him with the comment. But he was able to find one to ship my way around a week later, and the set is now back in stock.
The box that arrived contained two smaller boxes of repair kits and one of spare parts, but no printed instructions other than the “Repair is noble” warning. Alternatively, iFixit offers online instructions: A 15-step illustrated guide(Opens in a new window) Which you really should read the comments for.
The first steps, softening the adhesive while holding the screen and then gently pulling it, were by far the most difficult. The kit is supposed to heat up “iOpener”(Opens in a new window) Fill a bag of gel by placing it in the microwave for 30 seconds, placing it along the right edge of the phone for a minute until the heat from the glue weakens, then use the suction cup of the kit to pull out the screen.
But the rubber cup kept popping up from a screen stuck in place, even after repeated heat treatments of the iOpener and my use of a suggested hanging fix to cover the screen cracks with packing tape to give the cup a smoother surface. One attempt to free the screen instead shook a piece of glass that hit a joint and added “minor blood loss” to my costs.
A hole has been pushed into the gap between the Pixel 5a’s screen and the rest of the phone. (credit: Rob Bigoraro)
Finally, I tried using the set’s very sharp tweezers to look for any gap between the screen and the phone – and it felt a little tender. I put one of the plastic “opening clips” in the same place, heard a faint pop and was able to slide the hole under the edge of the phone to make it easier to open.
The instructions had me insert the other five screen shots around the edges of the phone, making it look like a strange electronic monster whose fins had grown blue. After slicing off the remaining adhesive with the set’s “spuger”, a carbon fiber pointed tip pen, I finally flipped the screen over, leaving it tied with a ribbon cable.
The rest was easy – definitely compared to my adventures Replacing your old iMac hard drive with a solid state drive(Opens in a new window) or even Battery replacement(Opens in a new window) in HP laptop. I removed a few turns of the T3 Torx screwdriver bits (the kit included this and two other Torx bits) the bracket pressing on this cable, after which I removed it free with a spudger.
Successful struggle results with the repair kit’s suction cup, opening shovels, and filter. (credit: Rob Bigoraro)
This is where the guide inexplicably stopped, leaving it to customers like “Lisa McManis”(Opens in a new window) “Craig Potts”(Opens in a new window) And the “barely_di”(Opens in a new window) To step in with the helpful comments below step 15(Opens in a new window) About how to attach the new screen.
First I used a handy spuder to guide the alcohol squeegee along the duct around the edge of the phone to remove any remaining adhesive. Then I attached the new adhesive, which is sandwiched between layers of protective plastic. I removed the bottom layer, covered the rest so that it would cuddle inside the phone, and peeled off the top layer of blue plastic to leave this sticky tape off.
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Attaching the ribbon cable to the new monitor requires aligning connectors that I can’t see. I gently pressed one end down with a spudger until I felt the screws click into the base socket, after which I pinch the rest into place and replaced the tape and screw to secure this connector.
The repair procedure requires only tampering with one small screw. (credit: Rob Bigoraro)
After a final check of the new screen – the manual’s comments reminded me to remove a small plastic cover from the selfie camera hole – and remove the last plastic strip covering the top of the sticky tape, I screwed the new screen into place and pressed it firmly around the edges. Remind me to complete a major step in assembling the model plane, just without the glue smell.
I’ve never been as comfortable seeing the Google logo as I was when someone flashed on the new 5a screen after restarting it, after which the phone started as if nothing had happened.
It’s been two hours with the change since I first went into the microwave on the iOpener. I would probably have saved the time taking the 5a to the nearest uBreakiFix site, which also carries original Pixel parts and $159.99 for 5a screen replacement(Opens in a new window).
But the payoff from this exercise wasn’t so much the flight and money I saved—after evaluating my time at zero, a mind trick worth playing on myself in my DIY endeavors—but the psychological reward of fixing my mistake with my own hands.
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