As part of our course, DCC 105 at the University of Maryland, we will be replacing the screens on some LG Tributes. This replacement is part of a series in our course on the material aspects of living in the digital age, especially the effects of e-waste. As an intervention to us throwing away old phones and seeing them as disposable, we are going to teach you how to fix your old phones and find ways of extending their life (even repurposing them, as we are doing with these LGs).
Step 1: Remove Back Panel and Battery
Using the prytech tool or a similar thin wedge tool, remove the back panel and the battery. This is, by far, the easiest part of our process!
Step 2: Remove the Screws
Using a 1.2 x 30mm phillips-head screwdriver, remove the 8 screws in the back.
Step 3: Pry Off the Bottom Housing Section
Step 4: Remove Main Housing
In order to separate the second section, begin by angling the pry tool to get past the screen's “lip.”
Utilize the wedge tools that look like guitar picks to keep sections separated while prying open the phone.
Step 5: Detach Ribbon Cables
Disconnect the forward facing ribbon cables, rear-facing camera ribbon cable, and digitizer ribbon cable from the motherboard using pry tool.
Step 6: Use Heat Gun to Soften the Adhesive Holding the Screen to the Frame
Utilizing heat gun set between 200-220 degrees, evenly distribute heat across glass for 1-2 minutes. The surface of the phone should read around 180 degrees Fahrenheit using a laser thermometer.
Step 7: Remove Digitizer From Frame and Clean Off Excess Adhesive
- Once heated, use removal tool to gently separate the adhesive from the frame, placing plastic picks in the corners to keep glass separated.
- Reheat the glass if needed to reactivate the adhesives. Remove digitizer from plastic frame housing.
- Make sure to remove any excess adhesive on the housing frame before moving forward.
Step 8: Place Adhesive Tape Around Frame
Begin to place double sided adhesive tape (2mm) around the edge of the frame. Make sure not to cover up the speaker or the forward facing camera and proximity sensors!
Once whole thing is laid down, take off the backing of the double sided adhesive tape.
Step 9: Attach Digitizer to Frame
When placing the screen on the framing, make sure that the ribbon cable is underneath the plastic housing!
Porter Protip: Place housing on the edge of the table so the ribbon can just fall through! Make sure housing and digitizer are flush with one another.
Step 10: Reattach Motherboard and Ribbon Cables
Place motherboard back into position.
Connect forward facing camera ribbon, camera ribbon, and digitizer ribbon to the motherboard.
Step 11: Snap Housing Into Place
Once all ribbons are connected, snap in upper and lower plastic casings into place. Replace screws.
Step 12: Replace Backing and Enjoy!
Snap on the back cover, power on your device and enjoy your awesome new screen!
These LGs were purchased on eBay for $10 a piece. Like most other LG devices, they use a digitizer/LCD display unit assembly instead of simply a glass screen; these tend to be more costly than simply replacing the glass. These digitizers cost us around $45 a piece and were hard to find. This is not a common LG model and most of the digitizers you can buy for them get shipped from China to the US on shipping containers (thus making their own impact on the environment). We found a Mid-Atlantic vendor who sold us these digitizers from New York.
Joseph looked online and found a pay-as-you-go version of this phone at WalMart for $40 -- that's $15 cheaper than our refurbished phones. So, as we work through this section on repair and e-waste, it's worth examining the value of repair in a culture that typically makes it easier to buy a new one rather than fix an old one. Hopefully, through repairing these items and giving you the knowhow to fix your own broken technologies, we can collectively approach our devices as things that are not easily disposable. Instead, we find value in extending the life of these technologies.