Common Phone Hardware Issues And How To Fix Them

I am a magnet for phone trouble. I'm used to typing with a cracked phone screen, taking photos with hazy camera, listening to music that can barely be heard over the crackling and trying to function with a battery that dies in 3 hours.

Fortunately enough, these are all issues with a relatively simple fix! Straight from the mouth of someone almost always living with a broken phone, here's how fix your precious device.

Cracked Screen

I have never met anyone clumsier than I am. It's an actual problem in my life — it means I drop my phone pretty regularly. I've had more cracked phone screens than I can count, so I'm now a bit of an expert on screen fixing.

Your only real option is to get it repaired by either your manufacturer or a third party.

If you have insurance on your phone, then it’s definitely worth getting in touch with your manufacturer (or service provider if you got the phone as part of a contract) to see how much it's going to cost. But be prepared — it's still pretty expensive. Last time I had a phone screen repaired through the manufacturer it cost over $300 in excess fees — and it would have been more if I hadn't had insurance.

Alternatively, there are a lot of third-party repairers that can do the job for you for around $100. Be careful though. Using a third-party to repair your phone can void your warranty. You'll need to ask yourself the question: is it worth voiding the warranty on a $1000 phone to save a couple hundred dollars? If your phone is new, then probably not. If your warranty runs out in a month, then maybe. Just be careful and do your research.

For any Sydney-siders out there, here are three third party repairers I've used before and have been really happy with: iExperts FoneFix Fone Guru

If you live outside of Sydney, Fone Doc is a good option (FYI — I have never used them personally). They are a little bit more expensive than other third-party repairers, but they provide excellent service.


Your Phone Is Not Charging

There are a few reasons why your phone may not be charging. Just last week I had this problem. It turns out that the rechargeable battery case I had on my phone was broken and it was preventing my phone from charging. So a faulty case can be one reason. But, more commonly, the other reasons include a warped or broken charging port or a faulty cable.

The first thing to do in this situation is to try another charging cable or charging adapter. Sometimes the wires in the cable/adapter are bent or broken and won’t let the electricity flow through. I have found on several occasions that a new cable fixed my problems. To avoid this problem in the future, make sure you store your cables correctly and don’t bend them.

If this has not fixed your problem, there’s likey a problem with your charging port. Often this is because the port and the connector are not making enough contact for the electricity to pass through. There are a few DIY fixes for this issue but I wouldn't recommend trying them. If you don't fully understand the mechanics of a phone then you might end up doing more harm than good.

All the same, if you feel confident enough to do a bit of probing, then you’ll need a needle or a toothpick. Shut down your device and (if it’s not an iPhone) remove the battery. Look inside the port to find the little tab and using the needle/toothpick as a lever, lift the tab. This should allow for better contact between the port and plug.

Alternatively, here are instructions detailing how to completely replace the charging port yourself.

The safest solution is to have the port repaired by either a third party or your manufacturer. You can expect to pay $150 or more if you use your manufacturer — which sounds a little steep. But remember: even though it may be cheaper, using a third-party may void your warranty. Be careful.


Failing Battery

A failing battery can be a reason your phone is not charging efficiently or dying off faster than the characters in Game Of Thrones.

Before you can jump to the conclusion that your battery is the problem, it’s worth seeing if your phone is stuck on power-inefficient settings. Certain apps, searching for Wi-Fi networks and leaving your Bluetooth on are just some of the processes that can drain your battery in a matter of minutes.

Read more here for Android and here for iPhone to see if it’s background processes that are sucking your power.

If you really do have a problem with your battery, you'll need to replace it. For most phones this is a pretty simple task. Most Samsungs, HTCs, Motorolas, Nokias etc. will open easily and you can replace the battery yourself. Genuine parts can be purchased through the manufacturer or at places like Harvey Norman and JB Hi Fi. Alternatively, places like Battery World or Battery Works will have batteries that fit your phone but, they may not necessarily be genuine parts. Using these may void your warranty. The best (and easiest way) to find out is to call your manufacturer's customer service line.

If you have an iPhone, this is a trickier process. Technically, opening up you iPhone will automatically void your warranty. So if your phone is still under warranty and the battery is not working properly, don't DIY. Contact Apple and they should be able to fix it for you. If your phone is out of warranty, you'll have to pay Apple to change the battery — $109 plus $19.95 if the service requires shipping. The other two options are heading to a phone repairs store like Fone Doc or buying a battery change kit and DIY. Before you commit to using one of these solutions, do your research. Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting and what to do if something goes wrong.

I have actually successfully used a battery change kit before. I bought a mid-price kit that I found on eBay — it came with an iPhone opening tool, a battery and instructions. I’ll admit, my dad did most of the work (thanks dad!) but it was quite a simple process and it only took five minutes. After the batter replacement, I got a whole extra 18 months use out of that phone.

Another thing worth noting is Apple admitted to a battery fault in some iPhone 5 units. If you fall within the faulty batch, Apple will replace your battery for free.


Broken Buttons

If you have broken or unresponsive buttons, there are a couple of fixes for you.

You can actually find software solutions to broken buttons for both Android and iPhone here.

Of course, the other option is have the buttons physically repaired. Your manufacturer should be able to do this. The alternative cheaper options are to take it to a third party repairer or to complete the repairs yourself. You can buy button replacement/repair kits quite easily. I recommend checking out eBay. Remember that if you have an iPhone opening it up will void the warranty. If your phone is still under warranty, contact Apple and see if they can repair if for you.


Camera Lens Is Broken Or Hazy

If you have a hazy or scratched camera lens, the very first thing I would do is give it a really, really good clean. You’d be surprised how much of a difference that can make. And don’t just give it a quick wipe with a cloth. Get out the methylated spirits or spray and wipe and really make sure it's clean.

If your lens is still not taking clear photos, there are a couple of other little hacks you can try like using scotch tape, peanut butter or tooth paste. I wouldn’t recommend these quick fixes — they’re more of a temporary band-aid solution.

What you really need to do is have the lens replaced. This is the one instance that you should probably cough up the extra cash and make sure it's repaired properly by your manufacturer. When it comes to a camera lens, quality is everything. There are many reputable third parties that will do this too, like Fone Doc. And there are also ways you can do this yourself, but I would advise against this unless you’re an expert.


Water Damage

If you’ve dropped your phone in a pool or just spilled water on it TURN IT OFF IMMEDIATELY.

The water itself does not cause damage to the phone — it’s the short circuits that occur when your phone’s electricity meets water that cause the problem. Whether you have an iPhone, Android, Windows Phone or an invincible Nokia 3315, turn that thing off asap. Now you need to focus on getting your phone dry.

If you have a phone that opens: Like a Samsung or Sony, you’re in luck. Take the back off and pull the battery out. Give everything a really thorough wipe down. If you just spilled a littler water on your phone, this should be sufficient to keep your phone in shape. If the device was fully submerged or you want to be extra cautious, keep reading.

If you have an iPhone: Your situation is a little trickier because you can’t pull your phone apart and clean any water out. There are few things you can try, like putting your phone in a bag of rice for 48 hours, grabbing a bunch of silica gel packets and placing them in a zip lock with your phone or even a Bheestie bag — which I have heard very good things about.

Once you’ve picked your method, store your phone in a cool dry place and make sure it's sitting in a way that allows any liquid to drain i.e. on a slant or sitting on one of the edges.

After using one of those methods, you should be ready to turn your phone on again. If you have an iPhone and you want to be completely sure that there is no water damage before you turn your phone back on, this video will show you the locations of the water damage indicators. If the indicators are red, you might want to leave it on rice for another day.

If the worst has happened and your phone is busted, you’ll have to contact your manufacturer. Or if you've received the phone as part of a contract with a service provider, you should contact them. Perhaps give this a bit of a read first. Water damage can often void your warranty so you want to be prepared before you call the customer service lines.


Faulty Power Switch

You’re going to need to get this one repaired too.

For anyone with a phone that opens (not an iPhone) there is a band-aid solution for you to use while you’re waiting for your repairs appointment. Pull the battery out of your phone and connect it to your computer. While your phone is connected to the computer, put the battery back in and it should turn on.

As with the camera lens repairs, I would not recommend repairing this issue yourself. I would contact your manufacturer or go through a third party repairer. As always, be careful that using a third party repairer doesn't void your phone’s warranty. Always call and check first.

Apple has acknowledged that some iPhone 5 owners may have a fault with their power button. Visit Apple here to see if it affects you. You might be able to get your phone repaired for free!


Unresponsive Touch Screen

If you find that your screen is unresponsive to touch, there are few things you can try. Most people I have spoken to with this issue managed to solve it with the old turn it off and on again trick. So definitely give that a go if you haven’t already.

Another option is restoring the phone back to its factory settings. Here are the instructions for Android and for iPhone.

In the course of my research, I did see some other sites recommending holding your touch screen against an open flame or repeatedly bashing on the screen. I urge you all not to try these. Methods like those will often cause more harm than good.

If the touch screen functionality is actually busted, you’ll need to get the screen replaced. You can see the recommendations for replacing a broken screen above.


Important Reads

The Most Common Smartphone Repairs That You Can Do Yourself

The Secret Samsung Galaxy Test Code To Fix Your Broken Screen

How To Get Apple To Replace A Defective Out-Of-Warranty iPhone In Australia


Do you have any innovative phone fixes? Any cool lifehacks that will help anyone living with a broken phone? Please tell us in the comments.

WATCH MORE: Tech News


Comments

    How is paying someone to do it the only real option for a cracked screen? The only time I've needed to replace a screen was on an old iPhone 4S, I bought the screen off ebay for about $25, it came with all the tools needed for the job and I then followed the tutorial on ifixit.com and completed the job in around 15 minutes.

    I have never worked on anything smaller than a laptop before and still had no problem completing the task.

    FYI with the cracked screen you can buy tempered glass screen protectors for $20-40 installed, I have seen them in action, I worked on a market stall selling them for a friend and he would throw his phone face down onto concrete, the protector would crack but when you peel it off the screen is fine!

    charger port not working - get a needle and dislodge all the crap and lint that has accumulated in there.
    unresponsive touch screen - grab a usb host adapter and a mouse so you can unlock it and retrieve your stuff.

    I've had a bunch of these;
    Samsung S2 had a faulty usb port, replaced the circuit board/ribbon to it. Cost about $5 (included kit to open up phone), took less than 10 minutes to change over.
    Camera lens was also hazy and scratched, cost about $2.50 and swapped over in less than 10 minutes again.
    Samsung S3 & S4 both had cracked screens, (LCD's were ok), screens cost me about $10 each off Ebay (used kit from S2 to open it up). That a hairdryer and about an hour on each phone I had the screens replaced. Considering I had a quote for $250 to replace the screen on the S4 it's no wonder I went the DIY option.

    I recently had an issue where my iPhone 5 wasn't charging - a battery icon with one red bar was on the screen but I couldn't do anything. Holding down the power and home button for several seconds reset the phone, and then it started charging again.

    Sydney Repair Centre Services prides itself on being the most advanced iphone repairs fleet management company on iphone repairs

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