Repair Your Smartphone And Tablet (Part 1)

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Save big money by fitting new batteries, replacing smashed screens and repairing sticky buttons yourself

Key points

·         You can fix many common tablets and smartphone faults yourself

·         Prevent accidental damage with a case, and consider buying insurance

·         Compare the cost of manufacturer, third-party and DIY repairs

·         Only attempt repairs that are within your abilities

·         Buy and check all eth tools and parts before you start

Repair your smartphone and tablet

Repair your smartphone and tablet

Having a shiny smartphone or tablet is great until you drop it down the toilet, step on it or leave it on the car roof as you drive off. Few things are sadder than a smashed or soggy gadget, but while it may appear that all is lost, many common smartphone or tablet ailments can be repaired, often without handing money over to a professional.

Insurance and backup

Manufacturers know that mobile phones are likely to be dropped or shoved into pockets next to scratchy coins, so devices are generally designed to withstand everyday knocks. In most cases they are at least made with toughened, scratch-resistant glass for screens and shatterproof plastics or metal for the case.

Unfortunately, it is hard to prepare devices for all the accidental abuse they might receive, and a bit of bad luck will defeat even the beefiest design. It’s a good idea to fit a tailor-made case to a smartphone or tablet, and perhaps a screen protector too – these will keep the case and display in good condition.

Regardless, your phone or tablet could still break, so it’s a good idea to take regular backups of what is stored on there. An Android device’s contacts and calendar should automatically be synchronized with a Google account (assuming you have one), but photos and other content may not be. It might be worth using an application such as My Backup Pro, which is available from the Google Play store (the trial version is free, from On Apple iOS devices, including iPhones, iPads and iPods, set up synchronization to Apple’s iCloud service.

You can buy specialist smartphone insurance for as little as a few pounds a month. Check first that you are not already covered either through your home contents insurance or through a premium bank account or credit card – some include accidental-damage cover, you should contact your insurer and report the problem before attempting any DIY repair. Some policies also require prompt notification of a problem to avoid invalidating a claim.

Repair water damage

It’s easy to spill liquid onto a mobile device, drop it in a drink or even in the bath. But waterproof phones are not a fantasy – some companies, including Sony, have already introduced smartphones that can withstand being submerged in water. However, few people yet own such hardy devices so, if your smartphone or tablet happens to fall into any liquid, immediately recover the gadget, dry off the outside and remove the battery. If you have an iPhone or another device with a battery that can’t be removed without specialist tools, turn the phone off as soon as possible.

There’s a chance that a phone that’s been dropped in water will recover on its own once any droplets inside evaporate, but this can take several days. Speed things up by removing the SIM card and memory cards, and, if possible, remove the battery cover. Place the gadget and components in a warm, dry place like an airing cupboard or a sunny windowsill – but don’t let them get hot. Give the device a gentle shake a couple of times each day and after a couple of days try inserting the battery and switching it on. If there’s any odd behavior or if the screen or buttons don’t work properly, remove the battery again and try again after another day or so; patience is key here.

Sony’s Xperia Z is the company’s first waterproof phone

Sony’s Xperia Z is the company’s first waterproof phone

The chances aren’t so good if the device was dropped in anything other than water. The sugars in some drinks, for example, can gum up the works and attract dust. If this happens and you have no insurance cover, you should send the device for repair. Manufacturers will generally repair liquid-damaged devices for a considerable fee. For example, at the time of writing, Apple’s fixed-repair charges ranged from $189 (including collection and delivery) for iPhones up to and including version 4, through to $279 for the iPhone 5, and to $384 for the most recent iPads. To arrange this kind of repair visit an Apple Store or

Some other brands don’t offer repair services, but all is not lost. Amazon, for example, says it is currently unable to repair Kindle Fire FD tablets. However, it will offer customers a reduced-cost replacement within the first year of purchase – a replacement 7in model costs $188, for instance.

Independent repair companies may charge less than manufacturers, but check their reputations first

Independent repair companies may charge less than manufacturers, but check their reputations first

You could send or take the device for repair by an independent company. This could cost considerably less, but choose an outfit that will stand by its work. For example, start at $73.5, and repairs are warranted for 90 days – the same as out-of-warranty services from a manufacturer such as Apple. However, be aware that if a phone has been accidentally damaged, thus invalidating the manufacturer warranty whoever fixes it will only warrant the work done to repair this fault, not subsequent unrelated faults.

A final option is to try a repair yourself, but with liquid damage we would recommend it only as a last resort where the alternative is throwing away the device. Run a sink full of tepid water only – do not add detergent. Remove the device’s battery, SIM and storage cards and wipe them and their connectors clean with a damp cloth, then dry them immediately. Never submerge the battery. Dunk just the device on its own into the water and move it around, refreshing the water if it begins to look murky. Remove the device from the sink, gently shake it to remove excess water, dry the outside and leave it to air for several days.

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