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HowTo:Repair a broken smartphone

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Phones in general and smartphones in particular are very complex machines and so repairing them requires a lot of skills and perseverance.

In our society, obsessed with efficiency and new technologies, smartphones are omnipresent. They are also an object a civilized person must have in their possession, no matter whether they are in need of it or not, as the need usually comes after the purchase.

The smartphone's modest size, clever structure and great capabilities make it extremely useful in daily life for several reasons. A television that magnetizes the entire family for an evening show, a book, a boomerang (although it tends not to return), an accidental Taser - these are only a few of the functions that an average smartphone successfully accomplishes.

However, the fragility of this wonderful mechanism cannot be ignored. A broken smartphone is even more useless than a broken boomerang (which still functions as a club, of sorts, or a bookmark). The unlucky owners of a broken smartphone are often subject to serious mental trauma, strong post-traumatic depression and, in 99 cases out of 100, eventual death.

But don’t despair! Your humble servant, this guy, is an expert in smartphone repair, as well as in many other fields of science, and if you are numbered among the Damned, I shall cure your misery before you are able to end your prayer.

No, you don't actually have to pray now.

Start well

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Repairing a complex electronic gadget, such as a smartphone or a tamagotchi, requires quite a large time investment, but is not a very difficult process in-and-of-itself. The most important thing is the first step, though. If you start well, you'll end well. If you don't... it's the end.

I recall an expert smartphone repairman once saying: "The key is to proceed very lightly from the very beginning. If you fail and spook your prey at that moment, the game is over." Actually, on second thought, he was a big game hunter. I was there when he said this, moments before the tigers... please, not the tigers! Heavens, I seem to have drifted for a moment. In any case, his advice still applies to smartphones.

So what do you think might be the first step?

Correct! Diagnose your problem: the near-literal stalking of mechanical prey. Your phone doesn't turn on? We can fix that.

We shall first assess your smartphone’s general morphology. "Look" at it, in layman terms. Surprisingly, you don’t always have to dig deep to get to the bleeding heart of the problem. For instance, if a person on the street appears to be missing a head, you don’t have to take their pulse to know their heart stopped beating, no? Or if your best friend has been swarmed with fierce Egyptian tigers, your first course of action would obviously be to flee without him, correct? Often, diagnosis can be as simple as the surface truth.

Same with smartphones. Let's begin our assessment: the color appears to be red. The color of a rose. A majestic sunset. Blood, blood from your friend, staining the jungle grass. Blood-stained grass. Just the blood, actually - grass is green, and this smartphone is not green. According to your file, red is consistent with the factory model, so no problems with the color.

Everything appears to be in order size-wise as well. Have you charged it lately? Just asking. Do you know how many people forget to charge their phones and think they are broken? No? Me neither. Well, if you did, than it’s all fine. Never mind. Sorry!

I'm impressed, this phone actually appears to be in top— oh bother, you see this right here? Look closer. No, it’s not just a scratch! Remember what I said about fragility, and stalking prey? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Look, I am entirely certain this is the issue with this smartphone, likely to do with a busted carburetor. No? Well, if you are such an expert in micro-imagineering, I’ll let you carry on! Goodbye, nice to meet you and the best of luck repairing the carburetor with your chubby, untested fingers. Expect the bill in the mail by the end of the—why, of course there's a bill. The money for the visit, the imparting of knowledge, etc. And that doesn't even include transportation!

Look for a problem and a method

Let me tell you something: I haven’t changed my opinion and am still extremely positive that the external damage done to your smartphone is the cause of its internal dysfunction, though having received your apologies (and still expecting to receive a financial encouragement) I am willing to go further down the smartrabbit hole and search for additional problem factors.

Yes, half of the sum will do for now. Two hundred dollars, please! Your hearing is good - and your math! Two hundred is half of the sum. Good, dearie.

Now let's get cracking! An old friend used to say "Appetite comes with proper sponsoring." No, not the one who was killed, of course. That fellow was all spice and no sugar, if you whiff my drift. His death was all tiger, though. Very violent scene, believe me. No appetite left for either of us, afterwards. Shame.

Yes, you are right, enough with childhood stories and back to smartphones. Let's try some audio diagnostics or, as I like to call them, electro-spells: Retournons aux nos moutons! No, I don’t speak French. I don’t know how I said that and, as the matter of fact, I am not even sure what that means.

Oh, perhaps this will work! Es polvo solamente. - “It’s just dust”. You see, that one was in Spanish. I think.

Hey! Why are you complaining? First, I stayed with you despite your vehement cowardice at confronting the real problems with your phone (and let's not talk about your ruthless refusal to pay upfront!) and secondly, what I am saying is just the next piece in the puzzle. How, you ask? Well, if you cannot find a problem in the phone’s morphology or anatomy, the answer is always dust. A morphological scratch on your reflector viewscreen can enable minor distruptor arachnoparticles to shimmy inside the electro-function mechanism, land inside the carburetor and - guess what? - thwart the running of the stable smartcurrent and prevent the smartphone from turning on. It's all quite simple, actually, though it'll run you another one-fifty.

What do you use to get rid of the dust? Water, you say? Precisely! I’ll show you how. No, even better, I’ll teach you how, for any future needs.

Execution step

I am not entirely sure about the name of this feature, but I am very positive that 98% of our customers rated it three stars or higher.

Take that bucket and fill it with water, any water. Let's see, yes, that bowl on the table there will do the trick. No, it doesn’t matter whether it was your soup or not, the water is what's important. Oh please, you can always buy another. Look at it, it probably came from a can. Nobody chops carrots like that in real life. Anyway, without further ado, dip your phone right into the water's heart. No, entirely. More of a dunk than a dip. No change? Well, you silly, of course it doesn't work - the phone isn't on!

Second time's the charm.


Oh, I forgot to tell you about an exclusive offer! Not only am I assisting you in this complicated situation, but I am also adding several special features to your phone for you to benefit from better user experience (for a nominal fee). Since we are such good pals already, the first one, which I call "Extreme Phone Glitter," is free! In fact, you just witnessed it! You're welcome.

Unfortunately, these "apps"—short for "appetizers," since they sweeten the tastiness of your main course, a perfectly functioning smartphone—are useless if we cannot get the phone to turn on. This step of the troubleshooting, you may have already guessed, is entirely your fault. I wish you were honest and just told me that you forgot to charge the phone, then we could both be at peace with our Gods. Looks like the only remaining option is to insert one end of the charger into the socket and the other into the—you guessed it—phone.


Jumpin' Jehosaphat! Another bonus feature successfully installed. “Sound effects”. Wow, that sounded like it was in HD.

Oh, and of course its price is 50% lower than usual!

By the way, is there a broad expanse anywhere nearby? State park, dog park, child's park, etc? I would prefer ending our investigation there.

If nothing works, consider alternative options

Do you have a screwdriver by any chance? I should have been expecting this, being already well-acquainted with your ability to forget the essentials. Now, see that guy? He probably does. So knock him down and take it. Oh, you prude. Would you mind keeping your pointless scruples to yourself? I have enough work without you already.

Anyway, it's pointless to try to knock him out without your own screwdriver, so we might as well ignore your unkind remark. I’ll go do it myself. I'll show you who's the barbarian. Hey! You there! With the probable screwdriver!


I am perfectly fine, I assure you. Let me tell you something: I’ve had worse injuries after an unsuccessful safari and I am still alive. Have you ever been to a two-star hotel/resort in sub-Saharan Africa? The things you see, you carry forever. But enough of this blathering about my past dalliances, you've barely told me a lick about yourself. So what do you do, sell vacuums? Drive a truck? Repair smartphones for a living? Ah, did not think so, then let's continue the exotic savanna hunt for a wild screwdriver, alright?

Oh, listen to me. Letting my safari ghosts slip in again. Very silly! Curse your eyes, Ghost Eugene! You know perfectly well this isn't the time! Wait, let's leave, before that lanky gentleman I conked on the noggin regains his bearings, because my intuition tells me this isn't the right day for searching for screwdrivers.

End as well as you started

This is the situation we are currently in, if you ignore the condition of your smartphone and the fact that we don't have an appropriate material to fix it.

How curious! I found the providential instrument in my pocket!

I will allow you the opportunity to begin the next step of our operation. Hoist the screwdriver. I’ll guide your hand. Please, it's all a matter of guiding your wrist and I need to gently—ow! Well, how would you feel if I slapped you hard on the wrist while you were just trying to help?

Christ, if you insist. We shall do this next step unguided. Just pray that it works. Yes, this is the time to actually start praying. Aim well, count to three and...


Well, that did not go entirely as intended. If the screen were not broken before (which it were), it certainly is now. See the advantage of hand-guiding? But good news! It costs nearly nothing to repair it. In the worst case, you can just put a plastic cover on top and pretend the colossal spiderweb broken glass gash has always been there.

Hmmm, you still aren't getting the point. Open your eyes and see the light, friend. We have finally reached the moment we pined for, day after day, hour after hour, since earlier this afternoon. At last, we can see the glorious innards of your phone's construction. The mechanical intestines, strewn about the countertop by our veritable Egyptian Screwdriver, the striped menace of the toolkit's tall grasses. Our observation of the external morphology not having produced any results, we’ll abandon it in favor of anatomical studies.

What do you think this doodad is, for instance? No, a transistor! Everybody knows that. Actually, when I pronounce this word now, it has a peculiar ring to it, so that it makes me think it was something else... a "fransistor?" No, that cannot be right. Let's stick with transistor.

Now, a little over to the right, do you see that that black mess? It’s dust and we have to get rid of it. Like this. Pff, poofo, fffpt. Now this leaves the microthingys to be analysed in plain sight. Of course that's the technical term, and unless you went off to technical school in the last ten minutes and became king of the technical technicians, you cannot say otherwise. Phone repair cannot continue with one microthingy alone, however. You don’t have to be a Solomon to guess that it isn't enough.

Don’t worry! The products of these two competing enterprises interact with each other a lot better than we usually think and are certainly very similar.

Give me your other phone, which you used to call me, and I’ll synergize its entrails in order to fix this one. The similarities in their structure will allow me to do this. It does not matter that the other phone isn't smart. You know how humans are 98% genetically related to mice? Yes, kind of like that, but a little more technical. You would not fully understand, much as I try my hardest to explain it.

Wait, am I right to presume that you used the time while I was lecturing you on the topic of complex microtechnology to lose my screwdriver? Ah, here it is, I am sitting on it.


Uh oh. This phone, as well, is in desperate condition, yet you really need your first one to be fixed still, don't you? No matter. When we manage to complete everything, you’ll be able to call me again to fix the other one! You can even use this coupon! Well, five percent of two hundred dollars is a full ten dollars. That's not an insignificant savings, you can buy a lot of pasta with that money, or chewing gum.

Fine. That’s your choice and a perfectly legitimate one, even though if I were in your place, mine would be the polar opposite. And now, it’s time to finish what we started.

While I hold aloft the relics of your smartphone, would you be so kind as to fish about the remnants of your not-as-smartphone and fetch me one of those square microthingy transistors? Yes, now just hold it right there for a sec...



You can take a break

My friend’s laptop is as good a boomerang as your smartphone is - in its current state - and you can’t do much about it.

Now I would have begged you to accept my genuine apologies for intending to announce something that might be unpleasant to your ears, but as it is just a direct logical consequence of the determinants you are already aware of, there will be no circumlocution and I'll stick right to the point: first, you don’t look well; second, your smartphone is broken; and third, no matter how you put it, it is beyond any possible aid from myself or any other smartphone expert.

Look, what do you expect from me, when you, yourself, aren’t even able to talk properly?

What “m-m-mon-n-ney”? I cannot grasp what you are trying to communicate with me. Are you referring to the song "Mony Mony" by Billy Idol? It's a good song but I certainly cannot see how Mr. Idol could possibly help you now.

And, if you want to know, for future use, the fatal mistake that you have committed was to try to fix an electronic device with your bare hands! Pure madness!

Perhaps, as a final comfort, I can offer you my friend’s laptop - if you wish, that is. Due to some misfortune in the Serengeti, he will not be needing it anymore. Available at a discount, of course. Three hundred dollars, please! You'll pass again? My, I am nearly through politeness with you. You are nearly as much of a buzzkill as I am a mechanical expert on smartphone repair methods.

Well, I hope you excuse me, I have an important company meeting to attend to. We’re debating on pros and cons of repairing smartphones with no help manuals.

Just joking! Good bye!

See also

And for another how-to guide kindly provided by John Brown, the reader is welcome to visit the article, entitled HowTo:Fry an egg, unless he actually wishes to fry an egg. In which case, we wish him all the best.

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