Smartphones

How to: Do-it-Yourself iPhone repair

Try at your own risk

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If you’re looking for a step-by-step tutorial on how to repair your iPhone by yourself, this isn’t iFixit nor JerryRigEverything. But if you came here out of curiosity (and for some tips), I’m here to share my first ever iPhone repair experience.

I’ve been dealing with tech mishaps over the years. From faulty PCs and laptops, all the way to a completely dead iPhone 3Gs and Samsung Galaxy Note5, it’s not something new to me. In fact, it was frustrating to deal with it as I’ve experienced having no computer when I was in high school — and even being phoneless for three months back in college.

If you’re too clumsy or you can’t see small parts clearly, your next best option is to:

  • Bring it to a repair shop
  • Find a friend (like me) who knows how to replace phone parts
  • Find a substitute phone instead

Disclaimer: Try at your own risk. Don’t do it if your device is still under warranty.

Check your phone’s defects

You can’t fix something if you don’t know what’s wrong with it. If you already know your phone’s situation, it’s easier to determine what parts you need to buy for the Do-it-yourself iPhone repair you’re planning to do.

In my case, I already knew that my iPhone’s battery is not in its ideal shape. Apple iOS’ Battery Health feature is actually helpful as it states whether your battery is still functional or needs to be replaced. Other than that, my phone’s display also suffered from “ghost touches” that I needed to replace it too right away.

DIY repair is the cheapest option

Phone repairs really aren’t cheap. If you take your iPhone to an Authorized Service Center, you’re not just paying for those parts that need to be replaced, you’re also paying a hefty amount of diagnostics fee and even the repairman’s labor.

As I checked on Apple’s website, an out-of-warranty screen repair for the iPhone 6 Plus will cost me a whopping US$ 149 (which is around PhP 7,360 when converted). Other than that, Apple’s US$ 29 battery replacement is long overdue. Now, it’s back to its original replacement cost of US$ 79 (around PhP 3,900).

I know what you’re thinking. Third-party repair shops have cheaper services. Still, you’re gonna pay for labor and diagnostics fees. It will also consume much of your time — and just the thought of going out amid the pandemic isn’t safe at all.

Be knowledgeable enough

 

DIY repair isn’t for everyone. As for myself, I’m confident enough to proceed as I’ve had numerous experiences repairing most laptops and CPUs. I was able to upgrade the RAM (memory) capacity as well as replacing old HDDs (hard disk drives) to a faster SSD (solid state drive).

Other than that, one should know how tools work. One mistake and you might damage the whole thing. Usual problems start when you don’t know what proper screw head to use — either between the common Phillips and flathead screw heads to a more complex Tri-wing and Pentalobe screws.

Not being vigilant and careful results to stripped screws, making future repairs harder. Other problems arise when you damage flex cables, IC chips, and other phone parts that are all vital in making the phone function — just like organs in the human body.

Finalize your decision

If you’re still holding onto your phone because you’re used to your phone’s ecosystem or you still need a lot of files with you and you don’t want to switch to a slower budget phone, this might be your final call.

But if you don’t actually care switching to a new phone without thinking of the hassle of moving files and several information, it’s not a bad decision. Just pick something that’s practical for you.

Choose the right parts and buy the exact tools needed

Now, it’s time to search for replacement parts. With the ongoing pandemic, it’s advisable to buy from reliable shopping apps. In the Philippines, you can find options on Shopee or Lazada. But if you still want to explore more, AliExpress offers parts for consumers and not just for wholesalers. The only downside is the pricey shipping fee compared to local operators.

As this is an old iPhone, buying third-party parts wasn’t a big deal as long as they’re functional. I was able to buy a replacement battery for just PhP 460 (US$ 9).

For the display replacement, I was able to purchase one for PhP 1086 (US$ 22). It even came with the right set of tools, from pliers, plastic spudger, suction cup, sim ejector tool, and a screwdriver with 4 detachable magnetic screw options that are commonly used for iPhone repairs.

Note: Most iPhones are assembled in China that’s why parts being sold online are sourced from them. If it looks sketchy to you, try checking customers’ feedback. It has always been my habit whenever I shop online. Luckily, I wasn’t scammed and received the items I ordered without damage.

Let’s get the work done

After receiving the replacement parts, I immediately went on with the repair. It’s common knowledge but just in case you forgot, you need to turn off your phone before repairing to avoid technical failures.

I started by plugging my hot blower into the socket and directly pointed it at my phone so it’s easier for me to separate the display from the aluminum unibody. Then, I started attaching the pentalobe attachment to the screwdriver and removed those two screws found between the Lightning (charging) port.

And with the help of the included suction cup, plastic spudger, and a little bit of my hand’s force, I was able to pry the phone’s display gently.

Not all iPhones are created equal

As my iPhone doesn’t have an IP rating, it doesn’t come with a waterproof gasket on its edges. For the iPhone 7 series and newer, prying the display will be more challenging because of the added adhesive for waterproofing.

Weird Flex but OK

At last! I was able to lift my phone’s display. But don’t get too excited. You should still be careful with those flex cables that are still connected to the phone’s logic board. If you forcefully pull it hard, the worst thing that could happen is you ripping the flex cables — which you don’t want to do with your original display especially if you did not buy a replacement.

Usually, you only need to use a Phillips screwdriver to unscrew certain parts in the phone. But if you’re gonna disassemble the whole phone, you also need to use flathead and tri-wing screwdrivers to remove everything.

As for this part, I only needed the Phillips head to remove the metal plate that protects the display’s flex cables. Removing it will help me unsnap those cables.

Label your screws accordingly

As mentioned earlier, you might encounter screws that are completely different from one another. This isn’t totally required but it’s a helpful way to distinguish which screw parts go to which hole since not all screws have the same length and type.

You can do this by placing a piece of tape with numbers/labels on top of your working space and place them in an order you will remember. Things are always better when they’re labeled. 😉

Don’t use metal pliers when unsnapping cables

Be cautious or you might snap

You can use pliers to remove metal parts that aren’t electrically-charged. Still, you should be cautious as you can’t use metal pliers when unsnapping cables inside or it might damage the IC chips found on the logic board and will badly affect the phone. Doing so might not only damage your phone, but it can also make you snap hard.

Best way is to use a plastic spudger to prevent metal contacts from sparking. As JerryRigEverything always says in his videos, unsnapping them is as easy as removing LEGO bricks stacked on top of one another.

Battery removal is tedious but satisfying

Usually, your iPhone’s battery has plenty of adhesive beneath it in order for it to stick even when you’re on the move. But before prying it up, you should remove the metal plate housing first on the lower right side. After doing so, unsnap the cables just like how you did with the display’s flex cables.

If you can’t find those black pull tabs that will easily help you remove the battery adhesive, you should grab your spudger and slowly lift the battery until you see the white adhesive and pull it as hard as you can. Once all the adhesive is pulled out, it’s safe to say you succeeded with the battery removal.

Start replacing those parts

Unlike replacing your ex, replacing your phone’s parts is just a backward process. After getting the replacement parts ready, you should store the old parts in a safe place since they are still products that are electrically-charged and include chemicals that might pose a risk of fire hazard when not handled and stored in a closed container.

Remember to dispose technological devices and parts properly. Keep it out of reach children and pets as well.

Putting back what’s left

Unlike putting your trust back in another person, putting all the cables, plates, and screws back in place is easier especially when you know how and where to place them — that’s why labeling them is more important than you thought.

Some iPhone parts are designed for a single device only

Display, backplate, battery, cameras, microphones, speakers, and vibration motor can all be replaced. But for parts that require biometrics, there’s a 1:1 equivalent for every iPhone. If you’re proceeding with the display replacement of your old iPhone, you need to remember that it doesn’t come with a TouchID replacement. That iPhone part is made for a single device only. You need to transfer that part from your original display to the replacement.

If you break your TouchID (or even FaceID in newer iPhones), you can’t have replacement parts for them. Breaking these precious parts will result into complete biometrics malfunction.

Fun fact: The best way to know whether an iPhone was repaired is by checking the True Tone Display setting. If it doesn’t show that setting, your iPhone’s display is most likely replaced. Even original iPhone display replacements are not exceptions to Apple’s repair mishap.

It wasn’t a perfect repair

When you’re not careful, you can immediately break something — whether it’s someone’s heart or just the flex cables in your display.

I overdid the unsnapping of the LCD backplate’s flex cable that connects the TouchID. Luckily, the fingerprint sensor is still in its original shape that I only needed to order a new LCD backplate for PhP 261 (US$ 5). It came two weeks after because it was directly sourced from China.

But it was still a successful repair

After waiting for weeks to get my LCD backplate replacement, I successfully repaired my old iPhone 6 Plus — all with working buttons, a better touch input, and of course, the TouchID works as well. With the faulty battery, it usually lasted for around two to three hours but now, it lasts for at least a day of moderate to heavy use.

The original cost of repair was around US$ 228 (or more than PhP 10,000) — where you can find and buy a brand new budget smartphone instead. Thinking about the money I saved actually motivated me to push this through. Combining the parts I paid for (including their shipping fees), that’s a total of just PhP 1807 (US$ 36) just in case you forgot to do the math.

BONUS: I also repaired my friend’s iPhone X

After sharing my story on how I successfully repaired my old iPhone 6 Plus to my friends, I was dared to repair an iPhone X. I took it as another iPhone repair challenge.

At first, I thought the logic board was dead. Not until I tried charging it wirelessly. Eventually, it powered on — which made me think that only the charging port was defective as it was submerged in water.

The repair process is completely different — from the placement of display flex cables, all the way to the complete removal of the battery, logic board, Taptic Engine, and the cameras as the charging port hides beneath those parts. The best thing is that, the Lightning port replacement plus waterproofing and battery adhesive only cost around PhP 916 (around US$ 19). It will cost more if it was brought to a service center considering they will run several diagnostic tests that add up to its total repair cost.

Making the long story short, it was another successful iPhone repair! With little background and experience to phone repairs, I was astounded that I can replace phone parts even without needing to go out and head to a service center.

Reviews

Huawei Nova 7 review: 5G is the icing, the phone is the cake

And it’s a damn good cake

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The Huawei Nova 7 or Huawei Nova 7 5G as it’s being heavily marketed is undeniably a Nova phone. The purple variant screams the Nova design and the specs and features scream flagship-grade.

5G is the next frontier in terms of mobile connectivity, and companies are understandably ramping up adoption of the tech. But you shouldn’t buy the Nova 7 just because it’s 5G-ready. Will explain more as we go along.

The Nova brand

I have had quite an interesting exchange with my cousin over the last few months about Huawei phones. She’s a fan of the Nova series. Huawei has done a good job of packaging it as a phone for the youth and the barrage of marketing only amplifies that message.

The Nova 7 pretty much sticks to the same formula. It’s an overall capable phone with a flagship-grade chip that lets “the youth” express themselves and pretty much do everything you normally would on a phone.

Build is far for the course at this price range

In the Philippines it retails for PhP 23,990 (US$ 488) and makes the same compromises that other brands do at this price point.

The build, while it feels nice, doesn’t have the heft and that x-factor that you expect from the most expensive phones today. But the weight is a boon for those who don’t exactly like heavier phones but want a relatively large display.

It’s 6.53” OLED display is crispy. You get the standard 60Hz refresh rate but it makes up for it with its bright, deep, and vivid visuals. It doesn’t feel as smooth, but it’s a joy to look at.

Being a flat display, it also has a wide footprint, but manageable enough for one-hand use. I’m just guessing, but somewhere between 6.44” and 6.5” might be the sweet spot for one-hand use if you’re working with a flat display.

All the buttons — power and volume — are on the right hand side which should be the standard for any phone that’s at least 6”.

At the bottom you have the USB-C port, speaker grille, and SIM card tray. There’s no 3.5mm jack but in the box you do get wired headphones and a USB-C to 3.5mm port.

For security it also has Face Unlock, a fingerprint scanner, and your usual pin.

Alright, let’s talk 5G

Last week, against my better judgement, I stepped out equipped with a mask and a face shield with bottles of rubbing alcohol in my backpack to test some 5G areas.

This was done in partnership with a Philippine telecommunications company but I decided to do my own testing after the fact.

While it’s true that you can and will get those exorbitant 500+mbps speeds, the frequency by which you are able to access them in limited locations. Unless you live or are almost always in the areas designated with 5G, don’t buy the Nova 7 for that reason alone.

Other reasons to buy 

It’s a damn good phone.

I used Phone Clone to copy everything on my Huawei P40 Pro to the Huawei Nova 7 and I almost didn’t miss a beat. I run all the same apps and do almost all the same things without any major differences in performance.

This includes your regular social media browsing, playing music on Spotify, and for the sake of the review — a quick game of Naruto: Slugfest.

The obvious differences are of course, as I mentioned, the heft and the smoother feel of the 90Hz refresh rate. But you can certainly do without them and still feel like you got your money’s worth.

Battery life is also stellar. Since I happen to be juggling phones for review at the moment, I’ve gone an entire weekend without touching the phone.

On standby mode, for two days, the battery stayed at around 80% from a full charge. That’s impressive. That means the phone knows when it’s not in use and will regulate power accordingly.

When I did use it, I got through a regular day with about 30-40% left before bed time.

Huawei Share is also a godsend of a feature especially when you’re also using a Huawei laptop. Sharing files is fantastic but also having the access to your phone’s apps right on your laptop as you work is such an underrated feature — but it’s one that’s coming over to other Android phones via Microsoft.

Sad, No GMS 

It was the Huawei Mate 30 series that bore the brunt of the US government’s Huawei ban. This forced Google to withdraw their mobile service support from the company.

Nearly a year later, and Huawei has made significant strides. Their phones have gone from borderline unusable to pretty tolerable.

Do I miss the Google apps and the Google Mobile Services? Heck yeah. There’s no dancing around it.

Not being able to get the best mobile experience from YouTube and Google Photos suck. Not being able to use certain apps because they just won’t work also suck. But Huawei has come to the point where it’s no longer a deal breaker.

Everything else works perfectly fine. A combination of App Gallery and APKPure has mitigated the need for the Google Play Store. Plus, they have also introduced Petal Search. Essentially a search engine for apps.

Updates from apps downloaded from APKPure do not download and install automatically. While this may be inconvenient, it’s a stretch to say that it doesn’t work.

Pleasant performing cameras

The Huawei Nova 7 has a 32MP front-facing camera capable of taking beautiful selfies even at night.

On the rear, it has four cameras: A 64MP main camera, an 8MP Ultra Wide-angle lens, an 8MP telephoto lens, and a practically useless 2MP macro camera.

The 64MP main camera is *chef’s kiss. The detail on the photo below is fantastic. Turning AI on also produced this generally color accurate and very pleasing photo of the plants.

Here’s the usual photo of a flower to further illustrate that point.

It captures urban concrete pretty well too.

Here’s an indoor low light shot. Typically, these never come out well, but the Nova 7 still manages to capture good detail even while there is some grain on the image.

Also a fan of the wide angle lens — just not a fan of not being able to travel so we can actually use it on a nice scenery.

The zoom is… okay. It maxes out to 20x and produces this kind of shot.

Halfway at 10x is fairly decent. Again, color is accurate, but there’s some noticeable detail loss which is understandable. Also reminder to not be creepy with your zoom.

Huawei’s portrait mode is also pretty good. Here’s a shot of Acrylic Stand, “What is Love” Chaeyoung that’s against the light. The background separation is good and it still managed to capture enough light so Chaeyoung doesn’t end up looking like just a silhouette.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The very first few minutes that I used the Huawei Nova 7, I already had an inkling as to how much it will be and how it will perform. The build and the overall snapiness of the performance were almost dead giveaways.

I have zero complaints over its performance and cameras. And for the most part, these two are what people primarily consider when buying a phone. Battery life is above average, the display is pleasant to the eyes, and app access is annoying but tolerable.

The future-proofing that is 5G that comes with this phone is icing. The cake that is the rest of the phone, that’s what you should really be looking at.

SEE ALSO: The Huawei Nova 7 and Freebuds 3i is the perfect match

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Smartphones

Apple iPhone SE vs Google Pixel 4a: Head to Head

Which one would you choose?

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We know a lot of you have been waiting for a follow-up on our last iPhone SE vs Pixel 3a comparison video. Wait no more! Now that we have the Pixel 4a in our hands, it’s time for another smackdown!

Cheaper than last year’s US$ 399 Pixel 3a at just US$349, we tested it against Apple’s US$ 399 iPhone SE that packs their most powerful A13 Bionic Chip — which is also in the iPhone 11 Series.

Of course, specs aren’t everything. Most of you are curious to see how their single rear cameras perform so we also did a camera shootout with both of them.

Head over to our video here to reveal the results.

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Newer OnePlus phones come with Facebook preinstalled

Users can’t uninstall some of the Facebook apps, too

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One of the features OnePlus likes to tout with its smartphones is OxygenOS. After all, fans swear by its simplicity, usability, and bloatware-free experience. However, newer OnePlus phones actually come with Facebook preinstalled. Worse, wary users can’t uninstall Facebook on these phones.

OnePlus devices with Facebook preinstalled include the recently-launched OnePlus Nord and the OnePlus 8 series. As Android Police reported, these devices don’t only have one Facebook app installed, but also includes other apps from the Palo Alto company.

Instagram and Messenger also come preinstalled on newer OnePlus devices, along with other utilities. These utilities include Facebook App Installer and Manager, as well as Facebook Services. Wary users who may want to keep Facebook out of their phones will find that they can’t uninstall these apps. OnePlus effectively gives two options only: disable these apps or force stop them.

The preinstalled Facebook apps are a culmination of an idea campaign that OnePlus “gathered” from its fans. According to them, bundling these apps will result in better battery efficiency. However, Facebook’s apps are also notorious for draining battery life much faster. It is possible, however, that OnePlus struck a deal with Facebook given the monetary incentive with bundling apps.

This isn’t the first time OnePlus bundled a third-party app into their phones. Actually, this practice started way back with the bundling of Netflix for the OnePlus 7 series. At that time, the company defended its practice by saying that bundling Netflix is necessary to enhance HDR playback.

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