• Frederick Dopfel

Smartphone Repair: Third Time's the Charm

Somehow, I managed to crack the glass on my Pixel 3XL. Not the front glass on the screen, mind you, but the glass back of the phone. This glass is largely ornamental, so cracking it doesn't cause any major issues, but unfortunately, it can flake off sharp shards of glass and cut my hand.


Rather than replacing the phone or getting a case, I decided it would be more fun to repair the phone myself. Fortunately, before I disassembled my phone, I was able to realize that I ordered the wrong replacement (the pixel 3 case, not pixel 3xl). Trial 1.

Once I ordered the right piece, I began the repair process. Disassembling the phone revealed a big problem with the design: glue, tons and tons of glue. It appears that in order to keep the phone waterproof and simplify manufacturing, Google chose to avoid screws or other repair-friendly mechanisms in favor of simple and space-saving glue. This meant using a heat gun to weaken the glue, and then prying it open with the iFixit Pry Tool while being careful to avoid damaging the delicate ribbon cables that connect the fingerprint sensor to the motherboard.

Following online guides, I applied plenty of ribbon tape to help secure the back case to the rest of the phone. This was a mistake. The ribbon tape, even though it was extremely thin, pushed the glass back out a bit, and therefore allowed it to flex. This flexing, under enough strain, caused it to crack again, mere weeks after the first repair. Trial 2.

So finally, for the third trial, I repeated the process over again. This time careful to remove all the adhesive, and only use the pre-applied glue already on the replacement glass. So far, there is no flexing, so hopefully, the third time is the charm!

Good as New


*The banner background was generated from my personal photo of one of my favorite places, Stinson Beach. For more information on how I generated the painting, see DeepStyle on the Recent Projects Tab

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