Introduction: Blu R1 HD Repair

About: Unix/Linux/Networking/Security engineer by day, alpha geek by night. So, basically the same thing.

This site and others have repair guides for (I thought) every phone available, but when I went to fix a friend's Blu R1 HD I was surprised to find nothing but tumbleweeds. Having fixed hundreds of iPhones and Androids I tore into it and fixed it myself. Just as I was finishing reassembly it dawned on me that I should write a repair guide to help others in the same situation. So while this won't be as comprehensive as many of the guides here, I hope it's still useful.

If you have better pictures and more detailed instructions please write your own Instructable, or at least email me and I'll be happy to update my guide, giving you full credit. After all, fixing smartphones isn't about glory or bragging rights, it's about keeping good equipment running instead of in landfills, right?

Step 1: Get Your New Parts and Tools

I've been fixing phones for years so I have a good set of tools, which you can see in the first picture. If you're only going to fix one or two phones the basic toolkit you get with a replacement screen, as seen in picture two, will probably be adequate. But if you're determined to be your friends', family's and coworker's hero I suggest some good tools. They'll make your job faster, easier, safer and they'll more than pay for themselves in gratitude and goodwill. Or profit if you want to make a few bucks too. For $11, this kit on Amazon is a good starter for phones. The most important part is the thin metal separator tool. I have several at home, one at work, one in my laptop bag and one in my travel kit - because people are always breaking their phones while on the road.

Amazon is also a great place to buy replacement screens, like this one I used on the Blu R1 HD. (For fun compare the tools in that picture to the toolkit above. See what I mean?)

You'll also need a piece of thick cardboard larger than the phone, which you'll use to keep track of every screw that comes out of the phone so you make sure it goes back in the right place. The Blu isn't quite so bad but some phones (hello, Apple) use a different size screw in almost every hole. I'm sure it's much more efficient from their standpoint, but for the home-repairist mixing up the screws is a recipe for a very long night, at best, or a disaster, at worst. You can see the cardboard I've been using for a few years. (The screws still in it are from another phone that's mid-repair.)

Step 2: Unclip the Back

Put the phone face-down on a convenient workspace and gently ease the pry tool between the plastic back and the frame. It only has to go in about 1-2mm. Work your way around the phone and you'll find small plastic clips that hold the back on. Pry those out gently away from the body of the phone and you'll feel them pop as you go. It's helpful to put something thin between the newly-opened clips and the phone body to keep them from latching on again. Those silly guitar-pick looking things that come with the replacement screen are perfect. (They're intended to be pry tools themselves but they're not very well suited to the task.). Once you've repaired a few phones you'll have a bag full of these.

Step 3: Remove the Battery and Rear Plastic Cover

Remove the battery, SIM card, and micro SD card.

Draw a rough outline of the phone on your cardboard and use the small (#00) Philips screwdriver to poke holes in the approximate locations of the 10 screws circled in the picture. Then use the screwdriver to remove those screws and put them in the holes you poked in the cardboard. These happen to be the same size so mixing them up isn't an issue, but this way you're still protected from someone bumping your table, or coming by to "look" at the tiny screws, or sneezing.

One all of the screws are out you should be able to take off the inside back cover. You may need to use the pry tool, but be careful because underneath the cover is the motherboard and any damage done to that could ruin the phone.

Step 4: Remove the Motherboard and USB Board

Now that the rear cover is off you can start to remove the motherboard, which is the large one above the battery and the USB charger board which is below. There are three types of connectors securing them:

  1. In the first picture, there are blue boxes around the connectors that pop straight up. You can use a fingernail or, better still, a plastic spudger (aka: pry tool). Don't use the metal pry bar here since that can damage the connectors. It doesn't take much force so be gentle.
  2. The yellow boxes in picture two highlight connectors with tiny lever latches. They don't need much more than a nudge to flip them, after which you can slide the cable out. If the cable doesn't come out easily you probably didn't release the latch. Be gentle with these too, because if you dislodge the tiny latch the phone becomes a shiny paperweight.
  3. The green box in picture three shows a cable that slides out without a latch. There are small wings on the side that you can grab with something like a pair of plastic tweezers. Or, if you're very careful, metal tweezers but take care not to damage the ribbon cable.
  4. Picture four has a purple circle around one end of the antenna connector on the USB daughterboard. Like the pop-ups this can be disconnected with a fingernail or plastic spudger. Make sure to lift it straight up away from the USB board. You'll remove the other end from the motherboard shortly.

Once all of those are loose, gently lift the motherboard a little and you'll see the other end of the antenna cable underneath it. Disconnect it the same way and you should be able to remove the motherboard entirely. The USB board is held in with small plastic tabs on the side of the phone so look carefully for those and you should be able to remove it easily too.

Step 5: Remove the Frame

Now that all of the electronics are removed the screen should come off of the frame. Carefully push the ribbon cables through the openings in the frame and that's it. If your phone has any adhesive holding the screen to the frame (which is rare with the Blu phones) use a hair dryer to soften the glue. You won't need much heat so make sure it doesn't get too hot to touch - that's a sign you've overheated it. There shouldn't be any sensitive electronics to worry about here, but you could still warp the frame, making it much harder, if not impossible, to reassemble.

And that's it! Reassembly is the reverse of what you just did. Just take your time with the connectors. They don't take much force to secure and if you push too hard you could break them.

Celebrate your new-found status as phone fixer. One word of caution: once people find out you can fix smartphones you'll have friends and family come out of the woodwork to have you repair theirs. Whether this is good or bad is up to you.