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6 Smartphone Repairs You Shouldn’t Pay Someone to Fix

Cell phone gone for a swim? Screen shattered? These smartphone repair techniques can make all the difference.

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Mobile smart phones charging on wooden desk

Restore your charge

If your phone won’t charge when plugged in, the cord might not be the problem. The charging port often accumulates lint and debris from your pockets and purses, which can block the connecting pins, causing it to charge more slowly or not at all. Fortunately, there’s a low-tech solution. “You can use a safety pin and run it around the inside of the port on your phone to clear it out,” recommends Shayne Sherman, CEO of TechLoris. “If your phone isn’t charging, give this a try before buying a new cord.” You can also use a flat toothpick to remove anything that’s blocking the pins that connect to the charging cable. While you’re cleaning your ports, here’s why you should clear cookies from your phone too.

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Speaker, lighting connector, bottom microphone of smart phone isolated on white
Kwan Kajornsiri/Shutterstock

Clean up fuzzy noise

Turned off by inferior sound when you plug speakers into your headphone jack? Just like with your charging port, dirt or debris can cause your device to stop turning on or prevent you from hearing your phone calls, says Liz Hamilton, director of People and Customers at Mobile Klinik, a mobile phone repair business. “Cleaning out your ports can be done carefully with a few quick blasts of compressed air to the area, or even with a Q-tip (remove some of the cotton if you have to to get it to fit) and use a high alcohol content cleaner to wipe out the area,” Hamilton says. Once you can hear your calls, here’s how to view and delete your call history.

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Broken mobile phone screen, close-up, black and white frame

Replace a shattered screen

This one is only for the DIY-confident. “If you’re tech-savvy and willing to risk your expensive device that has many fragile and tiny parts, you can probably fix a screen yourself,” Hamilton says. But you’ll need the right tools for this smartphone repair job, she adds.

And it’s easier to replace the screen on some devices than others. For iPhones, for example, iFixit.com recommends applying some heat to soften the adhesive, keeping the screen on, and using opening picks to slice the adhesive apart in order to carefully pry the screen off. That said, replacing a cracked screen is more involved on Android devices such as the Samsung Galaxy series, says Craig Lloyd of iFixit. For example, you’ll need to take the back glass panel off first, which adds steps and complexity to the repair. You’ll probably need to invest in a new case, too. Going beyond screen integrity, it’s worth knowing how to lock any app to help keep your phone safe.

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Phone in the water. Concept broken phone. Smartphone repair concept
Anastasiya Tsiasemnikava/Shutterstock

Resurrect a soaked phone

If your phone takes an unexpected swim, don’t follow the common wisdom to place it in a bag of rice. As it absorbs water, the rice can get gummy and stick in your phone’s ports. Rice is good for absorbing external moisture, but it could miss some internal moisture that could continue to harm your phone.

Instead, the first thing you should do for smartphone repair is simply remove the phone from the water source and turn it off immediately. “Let it dry completely before attempting to turn it back on,” Lloyd says. “You can use a blow dryer on a cool setting to help dry out ports and such.” Some experts also recommend hoarding the packets of silica gel that come with shoes and keeping them in an airtight container (to prevent them from absorbing moisture). Then, when your phone takes a dive, placing it in that same airtight container allows those little packets to work their magic. If your phone still isn’t working, though, many experts recommend that the safest bet for water damage is to turn off your phone and take it to a professional. “Good professionals will give you a free diagnosis and quote before any work is done and the best professionals won’t charge you if they can’t fix it, regardless of the efforts they take to save your device,” Hamilton says. In case you need it once your phone is dry again, here’s how to factory reset your phone.

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smartphone batteries

Replace the battery

Wouldn’t it be great if it were as easy to replace the batteries in your phone as it is to switch out the ones in your remote control? Unfortunately, batteries are glued down in most phones, so replacing them is more of an involved process for smartphone repair. iFixit has detailed instructions to replace the battery in a Samsung Galaxy. Putting in a new battery is easier in iPhones, however, because they have handy pull tabs on the adhesive that makes battery removal a bit easier, Lloyd says.

You should be aware, however, that opening your phone will void your warranty. Many phone manufacturers (including Apple) will replace your phone battery for free if it’s still under warranty, and for a small fee even if it’s not. Better check your digital wallet before you try this repair yourself!

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smart phone camera and flash on wood background
Ionut Musca/Shutterstock

Improve a mediocre lens

Have you always dreamed of taking super-clear photos or having the ability to focus in close on flowers or faces? You need a macro lens! Sadly, most phone cameras don’t come with one. You could buy one, or you could use this neat trick to improve your camera for free. Get that DVD player you don’t use any more (thanks, streaming) and salvage the lens: It’s the little piece that guides the disc-reading laser. Dig out the glue to free the lens. You can either place it over your phone camera and secure it with some putty, or put it on some tape, cut a hole, and simply stick it over the lens. This will give you such extreme focus that you can even see the cell structure of an onion! Next, learn which phone is the most secure: Apple or Android?


Jen McCaffery
Jen McCaffery covers money, tech, products, health and safety for Reader's Digest and other publications and websites. When she’s not writing or editing, she’s growing veggies or trying to figure out the way home from assorted trails.