It’s sometimes hard to imagine life before smartphones. They provide us with communication and entertainment, and they’re increasingly finding use as work devices; people often feel lost when they lose their phone or if it stops working correctly. However, smartphones are small and have many vulnerable parts, and it’s common for components to eventually break. While repairing a phone is difficult, it’s often possible with the right knowledge and tools. Here are a few of the most common ways smartphones break, what you can do to avoid problems, and how you can get your phone back up and running.
It’s every smartphone owner’s nightmare: a cracked screen. Today’s smartphone screens are far more durable than those of the past, and many can survive moderate falls unscathed. If the phone strikes the ground at just the right angle, however, cracks can quickly propagate across the screen, making your phone difficult to use and potentially making the screen unusable. External phones cases can provide a bit of protection, although none are able to fully prevent cracks. Practicing good habits can help as well, as avoiding high-risk scenarios can help prevent falls in the first place. However, people use phones so frequently that drops can seem all but inevitable.
Fortunately, the frequency of cracked screens means there are plenty of replacement screens on the market, and experts can replace screens in a fairly short period of time. While replacement screens are easier to find for popular phones models, even uncommon phones typically have replacement options available. Replacement screens aren’t always cheap, but restoring your favorite phone’s screen is far more economical than buying a new device.
Increasingly, manufacturers are offering phones designed to withstand water damage. Through tight manufacturing protocols and plugs for ports, manufacturers can create phones that can handle being submerged for extended periods of time. Surprisingly, even phones not listed as water-resistant can often survive submersion if they’re dried off in a timely manner. Unfortunately, prolonged submersion can cause damage to most smartphones, even some that are rated as resistant. Attentiveness is the best way to avoid water damage; check your pockets before hopping into a pool.
The problem with water damage comes from the electronic components within the phone itself. It’s best to leave your device unplugged and turned off for an extended period of time before powering it on again to avoid short-circuits that can destroy internal components. Some people recommend placing your phone in a bag of rice if it’s been damaged by water, but rice won’t decrease the drying time and can cause problems through dust. If your phone still won’t power on even after it’s been dried, have it inspected by an expert, as some electronic problems are easy to fix. Unfortunately, a damaged motherboard or other component can lead to expensive repairs, and replacement parts might simply be unavoidable.
Damaged Charging Port
Phones are only useful if they have power, but charging ports can become damaged. Because charging ports are frequently connected and disconnected through daily use, mechanical damage is always possible. Furthermore, the electricity that travels through charger ports is greater than many people imagine, and short circuits or other electrical problems can lead to permanent damage. Accidentally kicking a port’s cable can lead to physical damage as well. Be careful when connecting and disconnecting cables, and try to avoid hitting cables when moving.
Because charging ports aren’t integrated within the motherboard itself, it’s often possible to desolder them and solder in a replacement port, although availability varies based on the device, with more popular devices having more options available. Furthermore, it’s important to rely on expert help, as a misconnected wire can cause damage to other parts of the phone, potentially rendering it unfixable. It’s also critical to ensure the port is appropriately secured in place to prevent further damage in the future.
One of the areas where smartphones have advanced significantly is in their screens. Today’s screens are far harder than those on older smartphones, and they’re less likely to become scratched. Still, contact with materials harder than the screen itself can lead to unsightly scratches, and some of the materials that can cause damage are surprising. Metal, for example, is softer than the glass on smartphone screens; no matter how sharp a metal knife is, it can’t scratch a screen, so don’t worry about keys damaging a phone. Sand, on the other hand, is often harder than glass, so be careful when wiping away sand to avoid creating scratches. Ceramic materials and diamonds are potential sources of damage as well, and they don’t require much force to cause scratches.
There are a number of purported fixes for scratched smartphone screens, and some companies provide commercial solutions. The complex nature of modern screens, however, means results from these solutions can be mixed. Fixing a scratch involves removing a thin layer of glass to create a smooth surface, so these remedies won’t work on deep scratches. Remember that you always have the option of having the screen replaced by an expert.
While smartphones typically fulfill a number of roles, nearly everyone uses their smartphone for at least one purpose: phone calls. However, smartphone speakers, both those used for phone calls and those used to play music or other sounds, are vulnerable, and water, electrical problems, and other issues can render them unusable. Apps that attempt to raise the volume level of speakers can potentially lead to blown speakers, so stick to headphones or exterior speakers for loud listening.
Fortunately, there are replacement speakers available for many popular smartphones, so it’s often possible to get your phone back up and running without purchasing a new one. Again, it’s important to rely on expert help, as even the act of opening your phone can lead to damage that’s impossible to repair. Wiring is also critical, as a crossed wire can damage your new speakers or cause interference within the phone.
Phones are designed to withstand regular use, but some are more durable than others. The materials used can also dictate what damage the phone is vulnerable to. A glass exterior, for example, will be great at avoiding scratches but may be vulnerable to cracks. Metal is tough, but it can become dented. Plastic tends to be one of the toughest materials, but it can become scratched or even chipped.
Remember that all phones are vulnerable to damage even if they’re marketed as rugged. One of the greatest uses of cases is preventing damage to a phone’s exterior, so determine if preserving your phone’s look is more important than avoiding the bulk of a case. Unfortunately, replacement exteriors for phones can be hard to find and difficult to use, but adding a case to a damaged phone can restore its structural integrity.
Damaged Operating System
Smartphones are computers, and they rely on complex operating systems to run. While major operating systems are thoroughly tested malware and data corruption can cause a phone to become unusable. Keep your data backed up, as a corrupt operating system can make it impossible to access. Be especially careful when updating your phone’s software, as power losses and resets can leave the phone in an inoperable state.
Phones vary, but it’s sometimes possible to reflash the operating system with the right tools, essentially performing a factory reset. Doing so, however, will cause you to lose your phone’s data, so it’s often worth talking with an expert to find out if there are other ways to restore functionality. In some cases, you might even be able to replace your phone’s built-in storage, which can be a smart choice if it’s become damaged.
Smartphones are powerful devices, but they’re also complex, and the failure of nearly any component can make your phone unusable. Phones are typically designed to be small, not easy to service, and replacing items often involves removing strong glue and soldering parts into place. While repairs are difficult, they’re often doable with the right expertise and experience. Before writing a phone off as permanently broken, make sure to talk with an expert to find out if it can be repaired.