Introduction: How to Disassemble a Motorola EM25

Greetings to all of you! This is my first instructable, so please forgive any misgiving in the steps, or something like that.

I want to start this instructable by saying that, as most of them, it was born because of need. I don't know how many EM25 (or EM325) users are out there, willing to replace a keyboard, a screen, or whatever from their phones, tried to download (as I did) some service manual from the 'net, and (again, as I did) returned with zero results. I don't know why, but it seems that there's nothing out there to disassembly this Rokr, and I mean nothing. So, what I did? I got some instructions for other sliders (the Z3 and Z6 are good examples), and a suitable victim (in my case, an EM325 with a dead transmitter), and went out for the disassembly by myself! I've done a lot of work of this kind, and I'm basically used to "pioneer", in some way, the disassembly processes of many electronic gadgets, but this is the first time that I share this trial-and-error knowledge with all of you people. So don't get too rough!

Now, into business. First we need to procure the materials for the disassembly project; in the particular case of the EM25 (and most modern Motorola phones), we will need a Torx driver, size 4, besides the mandatory flat and Phillips screwdrivers, none of them exceeding the 4 size. If you don't know what a Torx screwdriver is, you maybe shouldn't be here, reading how to dismantle a delicate electronic device... but, anyways, is the star-shaped driver head. The other tool that we'll need is a flat plastic screwdriver, the harder the better; this will be used for separating the clip parts (the parts of the housing and inner parts that are holded on by plastic clips); it's important to make it plastic, because a metallic standard flat driver has a high chance of scratching the plastic surfaces.

Finally, procure a very clean, very clear flat work surface. The clearer the better; you will appreciate that when you're picking up the minute black pieces (they're most easily viewable against, say, a white surface). And light. Lots of light. If you can procure (like me) a hat- or glass-mounted LED light, the better. Also a little tweezer, like the eyebrow tweezer ones (no, you don't need to be a woman, or to live around one, to have one of this very useful pickers in your toolbox!) will be very useful for the little parts and flexes.

Enough of this intro. Let's get into it!

Step 1: Step 1: First Incision... (basic Disassembly)

Ok, the first step is to know the Motorola EM25. No, I'm not referring to know where the screen, keyboard, camera lens, etc. is, because of course you already are familiar with it; I mean, know where to start the disassembly process.

Naturally, we begin by removing the battery (assuming the phone is already shut off). If you already don't know how, the battery is removed by first sliding off, with a slight pressure, the battery compartment door, and then extracting the battery by its upper edge. Of course, check the photos for guidance.

Now, where do we start? Of course, by the screws! There are six of them in the back of the housing, and another six in the back slider plate (we'll get to them in another step). Use the Torx screwdriver and take out the screws in the back of the housing. Organize them in one side, so you'll not lose them, as they're very tiny.

After you have unscrewed the back plate, slide out the keyboard. You'll need now the plastic flat screwdriver to separate, VERY GENTLY, the two plastic parts of the main body. In the photo I've marked the notches; insert carefully the plastic head somewhere between them, and gently pry it open, all the way around the border. You will have the back plastic housing piece out in no time.

Now we're beginning to see some serious inner electronics; therefore, we need to double the safety and care measures to prevent irreparable damage to the (still) good parts of the donor and the receiver. So far so good!

Step 2: Step 2: Inside the Slider (basic Disassembly)

Now that we have separated the rear housing, and exposed some electronics, it's time to take care of the front faceplate. As I said before, the rear plate holds the front housing (or faceplate) with another six screws. The first two are easy; you reach them just by sliding out the keyboard, thus exposing the camera. Go get them.

Now, the other 4 are more tricky. To get them we first need to detach the entire main electronics block from the main body (the electronics block that we exposed in the previous step). With the flat plastic driver again, we will now separate the keyboard plastic sheet from the electronics, always having extreme care with the notches (they can break easily). Once liberated, and holding uo the main board with two fingers of one hand, we'll slowly slide out the screen part of the phone, as in preparing to dial a phone number. Notice the ribbon cable that goes out (photo 3)? This is the main ribbon flex cable. be VERY CAREFUL manipulating it! Everything goes through it: the screen image, the keyboard key presses, the GSM signal, the camera data, etc. Just let the slider part slide out completely, always holding up the main board down, and finally turn upside the main board, to expose the ribbon cable connector, and plug it out (remember, CAREFULLY). No pressure or force at all is required to detach it. As always, put the main board aside, in a safe place, and let's continue with the rest.

To remove the two remaining screws, we need to pry out the keyboard membrane, and to slide back down the faceplate. The keyboard membrane is easily detachable; just push it down with your fingers until you "pop" it, and remove it out. After that, you will slide back the faceplate ("close" the phone"), and you will see the four missing screws. Take the Phillips screwdriver this time, and take them out.

Now let's go to the delicate part!

Step 3: Step 3: Face-Off (basic Disassembly)

So far we have our delicate piece of electronics divided in several components. I hope you're saving the tiny screws in safe places! After removing the rear metallic plate, we can see all the inner components of the frontal housing part (the screen, the camera, the secondary keyboard and the speakers - the loudspeaker and the earpiece-). No more screws to go in this step... but keep your plastic screwdriver handy.

Now, the lower part contains the secondary board, that contains the secondary keyboard (the cursor keys, the SEND/END keys, the soft keys, and the music/back keys) and the loudspeaker, that sounds very originally through the grille in the center of the cursor keys); the upper part contains, well, the screen. To remove them, we must first remove the lower part. Notice the plastic frame that surrounds the border of the secondary board? It can be pried out just by pulling towards you with the plastic flat screwdriver. You fold out this part exactly like you did with the main board in step one, towards the screen. Now, watch out with the "folding" process: the upper part of the "frame" is inserted in a slot beneath the screen; when folding out the piece, gently pull it out first, to free this upper part in order to detach it completely. After this, the screen will pop out easily.

Now, this is the end of the basic disassembly process. If you want to replace any major part (screen, keyboard, etc.), you shall be good until here. Remember to keep extremely clean the screen and back of screen cover surfaces; if you leave any debris, fingerprint, or anything, you will not notice it until it's too late (that is, until you reassemble it back), and of course the only alternative to fix it is to repeat all the disassembly process to clean it. Although the experience of repeating all the disassembly/reassembly process can be instructive as a field practice, remember that there are several plastic notches, pins and screw holes that can be easily broken due to extreme stress. Which reminds me: be very gently with the torque applied to the screws when screwing them back. To reassemble all, trace back the disassembly process from this point to the step 1.

Now, do you feel adventurous? Or maybe your spare part requires a more thorough disassembly, like replacing the SIM/microSD slots, the camera, the earpiece or the antenna? Then, keep your helmet put on, and let's continue!

Step 4: Step 4: the Camera, and Other Stuff (advanced Disassembly)

So, you need to go deeper inside the bowels of your faithful cellular phone? All right, suit yourself!

As long as we are in the frontal piece, let's see what we have left of it after removing the screen and secondary board. Not much, of course: only the camera, still attached to the secondary board via one of the "branches" of the main ribbon cable. The camera cable can be detached, but not just by pulling out like we did with the main ribbon cable: looking carefully into the cable connector, we can see a very tiny black lever, that holds the cable head in place. To lift it, we can use either the flat plastic driver (if it's flat enough), of a needle; after gently lifting (VERY gently, as it can break very easily), we can pull slowly off the cable, preferably with the tweezers.

After detached, the camera module can be extracted by unscrewing the four Phillips screws that holds it in place. After extracted we find two missing parts so far: the earpiece (beneath the camera module), and the vibrator electric motor (in the camera module). The placement of the vibrator bothers me at some degree, since if it becomes damaged we will need to replace the entire module, unless you do some serious microsoldering. Again, the earpiece can be removed just by popping it out, using the tweezers.

Step 5: Step 5: the Antenna, and Other Stuff (advanced Disassembly)

Now, let's go to the back housing part. Remember, in step one, that I show the internal antenna inside the housing? We can remove it, but we need to be careful (as usual), because this particular part, and some others in this advanced disassembly phase, is glued, not held in place by notches or screwed down. We need to pry it out slowly to not damage the delicate tin conducts that form the antenna structure.

The other part is the volume up/down button and connector. If you remember, it runs along the left (right, as you are seeing it now facing down) side of the housing. Again, this part is glued; using either the plastic, or a sharp metallic, flat screwdriver, gently pry it out from the connectors at the base; when detached, continue to pry it out very slowly until you reach the buttons. here, using a needle, or something sharp, pull out the buttons, and remove the entire ribbon. The external plastic buttons are easily removed by popping them out: they're held by notches.

Step 6: Step 6: the Card Slots (advanced Disassembly)

Now for the final removable parts. Back to the main board module (remember it?), we have the SIM card and the microSD card slots. Actually, both of them are in a flexible board glued over the main circuitry/keyboard plate, and connected to it via a rectangular microconnector. To remove this, we first need to carefully unplug it (since this microconnector can be easily broken or taken apart), and then slowly pry it out from the metal plate. We can use the plastic flat screwdriver here as a "knife" to help us in separating both parts. And remember to take out the black rubber cover first.

Finally, and just for fun, why not replace the frontal face? The EM25, due to a very poorly repair prior attempt, was returned with some screws missing, and some other overscrewed, causing them to protrude from the frontal faceplate and, in one part, actually broken it. Of course, I wanted the Em325 housing, but I didn't wanted the Vodafone logo nor the badly scratched clear plastic screen cover. So, I replaced them! As you may already guessed by now, they are simply glued to the plastic: push the secondary keyboard membrane with the thumb (just like you did with the main keyboard in step 1, only with a little more strength here, since this one is not held in place with notches, but glued), and gently and slowly pry it out from the frontal plastic housing. You can put another one just in the same way. Uh, and the clear plastic screen cover gets out by pushing from the outside in. They're several other minute details that can be replaced too, like the little nylon grilles over the earpiece slot, for example, that I also needed to change (the Vodafone phone had them black, the Claro phone had them red, you can check it out in the first head-to-head photos).

As a bonus, I've left a last photo, showing both phones at the end of the basic disassembly process. I've had them both at this stage before beginning to assemble one single phone (with the EM25's GSM radio, of course) out of the best pieces of both of them. And, as a result, I compiled all this information for you, in order to make your attempts more easy than it was form me.

All your comments and suggestions are welcome, and remember, as I said before, that this is my first Instructable, so don't be too harsh with your critics! Good luck, and happy disassembly!