I love my Galaxy Note 3. But the bigger they are, the harder they fall. And holy crap did I do a good job of shattering my screen when it fell from my feeble clutches recently. But from adversity comes opportunity — and I learned two key lessons that everyone should know when it comes to fixing a broken phone screen.
Stupidly, I forgot to take a photo of my broken beast with another phone or camera. It looked something like the above.
Lesson 1: Do you really need an official part?
Assuming this sort of thing must happen all the time, I called Samsung’s flagship Sydney store who then told me to call the Samsung support line. The wait time was long, the hold music was an infuriatingly evil remix of the more recent default Galaxy ringtone. Would I ever hear those warbling notes again on my own pulverised phone? Was this phone purgatory?
Finally, not long before my skull would leave a permanent imprint on the nearby wall, a Samsung rep answered. Apparently my best bet was to email [email protected]
Subject: Urgent: GALAXY note 3 cracked screen Hi guys, how much will it cost to get this fixed? LCD and touch work, just the glass broken. How much and how to best get it serviced? Thanks!
Five days later, I received a response:
Unfortunately we cannot give you a quote for that. It needs to be sent away to our repair centre for a technician to assess the extent of the damage.
We can send the phone away for you, but ensure that you have the data on it backed up before we do. Also, there is an inspection fee that gets worked into the quote, but, if you reject the quote it must still be paid, the amount of the Inspection fee is $49.50
Um, no thank you very much.
So I was pretty sure that touch still worked fine and that the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) brain fluid behind the glass hadn’t been popped like a Dornishman. But it was hard to tell.
Some Gumtree sleuthing and a few comparison phone calls later, I had lined up a fix at a local repair shop in Sydney. $140 if it was just the glass that needed replacing. $130 if I paid in cash.
It was Saturday now. I had plenty of time to traverse the labyrinth of little shops, random elevators and non-English signage that stood between me and a phone that wouldn’t slice off my ability to learn braille. Which leads me to...
Lesson 2: Phone test codes are freaking awesome!
Sure, repair codes have been known about for some time — but if you weren’t aware, let my adventure serve as your timely reminder.
I find the shop, and the engineer swiftly enters
*#0*# into my dial pad. Up pops a diagnostic service window where he can choose to test all manner of functionality, including touch and the Wacom digitiser.
Apparently this code (and others like it) work with most Galaxy devices. Though please use them with caution. Don’t blame me if you accidentally factory reset your device (and yes there is a code for that!)
Smartphones from Sony, HTC, Motorola LG and others also have service menu codes, and may even share common backdoors thanks to Android. Google is your friend here.
Back to my phone, and a sense of relief washed over me as I watched my test engineer deftly trace the big green X to completion (see top image). $130 it was to be — much better than the roughly $280 to replace the whole front assembly. Likely more if you use the official Samsung part. And I never did find out how much it’d cost to do so from Samsung itself, despite reaching out through PR channels by that point.
Little stores are a fun experience, but you never 100 per cent know what quality you’re getting in terms of parts. And there’s always a question mark over security even after you’ve wiped your phone. My Galaxy Note 3’s home button feels a little less prominent than it used to be, which might be due to the replacement glass being ever-so-slightly thicker. And who knows if it’s as durable as Samsung’s official glass. But the difference is almost imperceivable, to the point where it might just be in my head.
Either way, next time I have a friend buying a phone — or looking to troubleshoot a broken device — these codes are definitely going to come in handy. I’d love to hear about your disaster experiences in the comments.
Follow Danny on Twitter at @danny_allen.