Introduction: Phone GPS Repair

Picture of Phone GPS Repair

Trouble navigating with google maps?

Unable to determine your location using GPS?

If you suffer from poor GPS signal, prolonged time for fixing satellites, or GPS plain not working at all, your phone might benefit from this repair.

In this instructable, I will be using the Galaxy S4 as an example. This process should work for all phones, but the disassembly process will differ.

Principles

GPS problems on the mobile phones like the Galaxy S4 is usually due to poor contact between the circuit board and the GPS antenna. This repair aims to provide better electrical contact between the components.

In this instructable, we will use aluminum foil to increase the thickness of the contact and hence the pressure with the phone is pressed together again.

Diagnosis

Firstly, you should determine that the GPS is truly faulty(instead of your navigation app).

1) Try using another navigation app

2) Try updating your apps

3) Download the application "GPS status" to check if your phone is able to detect any satellites and fix onto them

If you confirm that the fault lies in your GPS and not software, you may proceed to gather the following materials:

Materials Needed

1) 2x Small clean pieces of Aluminum foil (1.5cm x 1.0cm)

2) Tweezers (good to have)

3) Clear plastic ruler (for bending small pieces of foil)

4) Small Philips head screwdriver

Lets move on to dis-assembly!

Step 1: Disassembly: Remove Back Cover, Screws, Speaker

Picture of Disassembly: Remove Back Cover, Screws, Speaker

Please refer to the pictures:

1. Remove the back cover using your fingers to pry at the seam.

2. Remove your SIM card, Memory card and battery

3. Using the phillips head screwdriver, remove the 9 screws you see at the back and KEEP THEM SAFE

4. Remove the speaker module

You will see that the GPS antenna, which is embedded in plastic, is now visible.

Step 2: Disassembly: Expose Circuit Board

Picture of Disassembly: Expose Circuit Board

1) Start prying at the sides with your fingers OR a thin piece of plastic(eg. edge of ruler), careful not to scratch your phone

2) Remove the internal cover to expose the circuit board

On the circuit board side: At the top right hand corner, you will see the contacts from the circuit board to the GPS antenna

On the plastic side: On the top left hand corner, you will see the metal contacts to the GPS antenna

Step 3: Prepare the Aluminum Foil

Picture of Prepare the Aluminum Foil

Now we need two pieces of aluminum foil to fit into the recesses(shallow holes in the plastic to contain the metal contacts) of the plastic encased antenna. This increases the "thickness" of the contact and will ensure good electrical contact once the phone is pressed together again.

1) Cut two pieces of Aluminum foil measuring 1.5cm x 1.0cm (you do not need to be accurate to the milimeter)

2) Fold lengthwise.

3) Fold breadthwise.

4) Fold lengthwise.

5) Fold lengthwise.

Tip: use the edge of a clear plastic ruler to ensure that the folds are right in the center. It is also helpful because of the small size of the foil folded.

The order of fold is not crucial, as long as you get the foil to a size that will fit on the gold contacts of the plastic encased antenna. Keep comparing with the size of the contact of the plastic-encased antenna.

Step 4: Install the Foil

Picture of Install the Foil

1) Place the two pieces of foil directly onto the metal contacts and make sure the fit snugly in the recesses of the plastic (see picture)

Step 5: Press the Two Back Together

Picture of Press the Two Back Together

1. Lay the plastic side on the working surface

2. Carefully place the circuit board side onto the plastic side (ensure that the foil stays in the plastic recess)

3. Press down firmly on all sides to lock the two pieces back together

Step 6: Screws Back On

Picture of Screws Back On

Now that you have the two pieces back together again, it is time to put the screws back on.

IT IS CRITICAL for the screws to be tight. Loose screws can decrease the mounting pressure and cause poor electrical contact.

*Don't forget to install your speaker module!

Step 7: One Last Touch

Picture of One Last Touch

To further increase the pressure on the contacts, we can add some sticky tape on top of the GPS antenna before installing the backcover. The added thickness will cause greater pressure on the plastic after the backcover is installed.

Step 8: Reinstall Memory, SIM and Battery

Picture of Reinstall Memory, SIM and Battery

Reinstall your memory, SIM and battery

Step 9: Reinstall Backcover and Test

Picture of Reinstall Backcover and Test

1) Reinstall the backcover

2) Power on the phone and test

Testing: I recommend downloading the app "GPS status" to assess your GPS.

Thank you for putting up with me through the long instructable. I hope this has fixed your GPS problems. If problems persist, please seek help from a professional.

Special thanks to

1) ifixit.com for their excellent pictures in the disassembly process that i have used in my instructable

2) mobilehowto.co.uk

Comments

varunrao (author)2016-04-17

Unbelievable, worked great on my SHV-E330S (S4 LTE-A). Any long term reports, I hope the aluminum stays in its place and doesn't short anything.

varunrao (author)varunrao2016-04-17

Spoke too soon, problem persists although signal strength appears improved

treysis (author)varunrao2017-09-26

The GPS antenna connections are actually on the opposite site. The connectors in this guide are really for the 4G antenna. Try fixing the connection on the other site and it might work.

bobyong808 (author)varunrao2016-04-18

Hi @varunrao, are you able to get a lock on any satellites?

varunrao (author)bobyong8082016-04-18

It will lock, then almost immediately lose lock. Its weird. Every time I clear cache through recovery menu it works well for one trip (home to office). Then its glitchy, constantly losing lock the next time I use it.

bobyong808 (author)varunrao2016-04-19

When you opened your phone up were the screws loose? Im afraid yours may be software related. Did the fix change its behavior?

lukie80 (author)2017-03-28

I'm confused. According to the official S4 manual the GPS antenna should be located at the other (left) side. I only have a "S4 active" and if I cover the upper left corner with a metal box GPS signal drops, If I cover the right side GPS signal keeps unchanged. So in my case the manual is confirmed. Any ideas?

treysis (author)lukie802017-09-26

No, you are absolutely correct. The connectors "repaired" in this guide here are actually for the 4G antenna. Probably moving of contacts and retightening of the screws is all that was necessary.

treysis (author)2017-09-26

That's actually the 4G antenna that you're fixing!

GPS antenna connections are on the opposite site! However, opening, closing, and tightening of the screws still was enough for a good result.

The problem is: somebody came up with this fix and telling everyone that this would be the connection of the GPS antenna, which is simply wrong. But now everyone has made a guide and tells everyone about the wrong connectors.

peonot1261 (author)2017-09-23

wow! thanks, but i only tighten all the 9 screws and it works great! This a good instuctor guy!

RoyH65 (author)2017-06-24

tnx for the fix man works great!!

bobyong808 (author)RoyH652017-06-24

Glad you managed to fix your phone!

Skye4 (author)2017-05-30

love it my gps works like a charm now im gonna go play pokemon GO

Jesper H (author)2017-05-24

I had a non-functioning GPS for over a year on my S4. It could see satellites but would never get a fix on them. This solved the problem in 20 minutes. While I still can't reliably get a fix indoors, it now works like a charm outside. And I rarely get lost in my home anyway. Thank you so much!

ArveenerA (author)2017-03-03

Thick brain you got there. Mine now works like a charm and might still serve me another good year.

wefiohewi (author)2017-01-11

Unbelievable fix, my GPS now works to within an inch of where I am, you have saved me from having to buy a new phone, thank you so much!!!

bobyong808 (author)wefiohewi2017-01-11

Glad to know we kept a good phone out of the landfill(:

Milesmcmiles (author)2017-01-11

thanks so much. not only do i now get a GPS fix; but a massive improvement on my GPS signal.
i did discover one thing, and you might want to take note:
your gps signal will be reduced depending on the type of battery case/back cover you use.
if you use a stock plastic cover: (the black one) you're fine and you can enjoy your new stronger gps signal.
however if you use a 3rd party anodized cover (the blue one)(theyre a little tougher) your gps signal will be reduced slightly.
i experimented with this and took some screenshots of the results.
thanks again though!

bobyong808 (author)Milesmcmiles2017-01-11

Cool! Never realized that thin layer of aluminum could have such a big impact on signal. Thanks(:

LoïcK5 (author)2017-01-01

Many, many, many thanks for this perfectly detailed guide!

My Samsung S4 GPS has been completely unusable for months without any software fix working. Even thought of buying a new phone (that I can't afford sadly). The phone took only 4 seconds to find my position (5 meters error rate) after the fix. Wonderful!

You made my day pal'!

Keep up the good work!

And thanks again!

bobyong808 (author)LoïcK52017-01-07

Glad it worked for you and saved a perfectly good phone from the landfill! (:

cndiy (author)2016-12-04

Thank you for the detailed guide to fixing the GPS antenna on my Galaxy S4. The GPS functionality had become next to useless and I was reluctantly preparing to buy a new phone! When I dismantled the phone following your instructions, I decided to adjust the spring contacts a little higher, rather than use strips of Al foil. This worked well for me. I used some needle point tweezers to very carefully bend the springs up so that they would apply more pressure to the circuit board contacts. I think that after several years of use and the occasional shock from dropping the phone, the spring/contact pressure is compromised. I think that this approach is preferable to introducing a 3rd metal (aluminium) into the contact. Thanks again.

Net-Devil (author)2016-09-30

What a great tutorial dude ! Thanks a lot !

Lately my GPS just went off completely and I was literally LOST ; like on the highway with 0 GPS information. Today I let myself be navigated through the woods with 10 of 21 (according to GPS Status). GORGEOUS !! Error rate of 2 meters!
Do you think more sticky tape and even more foils could boost the connectivity to like 20 of 21 with error rate like 0,005 meters? Or is more not always better and 10 is still the best?

bobyong808 (author)Net-Devil2016-09-30

Glad it worked for you! I think more stick tape or foils will not improve your gps accuracy by much if not any bit because it works just like a radio receiving time broadcasts from gps satellites to work out its position from the satellites. An error margin of 2m is pretty good and i think is inherent in the design of the device. Too much foil might make your case bulge outwards and fall off too, but i dont see how it could damage any electronics. If you decide to try, please let me know the results!

Thanks!

Net-Devil (author)bobyong8082016-10-05

Hi there. Well, sorry to say but my wife technically forbid me to further optimise the GPS antenna because I have kind of a habit to optimise things to death (FUBAR death).... so I just tried more sticky tape and as you said the case wasn't able to close correctly anymore and I guess the tension wouldn't exist otherwise to support the contacts. Two layers sticky tape was the max I could fit in there.
Anyways, thanks again :-) I really enjoy tracking my position everywhere by now :-)

JacopoI (author)2016-10-05

It worked perfectly!
You're the best!

khalil_sb (author)2016-09-26

I had problem with GPS for more than a year. This fix is absolutely works. Now my S4 detects position like an eagle. Thanks a lot man.

geo909 (author)2016-09-05

Thank you so much! I couldn't connect to a single satellite and after this hack I'm connected to 11 in my house!

DucD7 (author)2016-08-27

Worked great for me. The instructions and illustrations were detailed and accurate and were very helpful for a novice like myself.

Thanks!!!

Thank

OlegP24 made it! (author)2016-08-27

Fixed for me, thanks!

GabrielM176 (author)2016-08-22

GPS is working. I finally can play pokemon go. Thanks very much.

bitboy (author)2016-08-22

Clear photos. Good explanations. And best of all, it worked great! Thanks so much.

Bluecoals (author)2016-08-17

Thanks mate you've made my day.....I'm stoked works like a charm :-)

JamilJ1 (author)2016-08-17

Worked like a charm! ;)

bluenote22 (author)2016-08-13

Be careful when removing or tightening your screws, it does not take a lot of torque for them to get stripped.

AnnaK99 (author)2016-08-11

This fix worked as a charm for me! Finally my GPS is working again after a a couple of months of frustration. It took 20 mins and cost me nothing. Thanx for helping me saving my money for things more fun than giving them over to a repair shop!

lamdb (author)2016-08-10

Thanks for your useful instructions. They address GPS issue in my phone very well.

Thrishen (author)2016-08-09

Dude...this is flipping awesome...it worked perfectly...wow....thanks man...TC

StirlingS (author)2016-08-07

My GPS started a couple of weeks ago to act up and I was thinking at first it was T-mobile. But then it started happening even in the city of Philadelphia. So I started a google search and this fixed my problem right away. Thank you

LucaO7 (author)2016-08-06

Thanks a lot for the instructions. I take a 2nd hand phone with gps problems. I see your instructions, put the aluminium thing in the gps antenna and plus shaved the connectors with the screwdriver to remove the oxide. Perfect!

ZackS31 (author)2016-07-30

The phone is plastic; I squeezed the upper left corner and instantly got a fix. Thank you!

RoyJackson (author)2016-07-26

Thank bro.

That actually solved my gps signal issues.

First I rub some 90% alcohol to clean the connections.

Then I used some melt tin instead of using aluminium foil.

Works perfectly.

bobyong808 (author)RoyJackson2016-07-27

Cool, thanks for sharing! Hope your GPS works well now!

KjetilW (author)2016-07-25

This worked for me too. Thanks for å great and easy guide. I'm no Pokemon go player like many others here, but getting lost in Rio as a tourist without having the option of using gps to lokate and ask pokemons for directions sure were a bit more challenging than it could have been and I considered scrapping my trusty S4 for a new phone.

Thanks again.

BonJ1 (author)2016-07-23

Here's my problem,

my GPS used to work somewhat fine, it managed to lock my location somewhat precisely, but some days ago it started acting up. It no longer locks my location (using the GPS Statuss app).Did all the location resets, downloads, cleared all the caches, even reset my phones factory settings, still nothing.

And there is this thing, that the app should stay at the notification bar on top, when GPS is in use, it no longer does that, when i open google maps or something else. And in settings it is supposed to stay up there.

So anyway, should this thread help me out, or should I look at some other solution?

bobyong808 (author)BonJ12016-07-24

I think theres no harm removing the backplate to see if any of the screws are loose first, since you have tried almost every software intervention. Did you recently update your os?

BonJ1 (author)bobyong8082016-07-24

Screws were pretty lose. Tightening them up didn't change anything tho.
No, my OS hasn't been updated recently.

GianniA3 (author)2016-07-17

Up to now i was having "no gps signal" error, after this guide my gps finds me in 5 seconds! Thank you so much!

bobyong808 (author)GianniA32016-07-23

Glad i could help!

DanielJ177 (author)2016-07-21

Yes! This works!! After many hours troubleshooting, GPS signal lost, GPS signal not found etc., I was right on the verge of exasperation, I was about to bite the bullet and take my phone in for a costly repair until I found this repair tutorial - did it, tested it, "GPS signal set" in under 5 seconds! Time to Pokemon GO!! :D THANK YOU!