Phones inevitably get dropped, scratched and damaged. Even a year of wear and tear can take its toll on any phone. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars for a new device every time yours breaks, here are 10 repairs and upgrades you can perform yourself at home.
10. Fix A Loose Charging Port With A Toothpick
Over time, the micro-USB port that charges your phone can come loose, to the point where your charger might not even fit in properly. Luckily, the fix is simple: all you need is a thin, sharpened toothpick to remove some of the lint and dirt. After you clean it out, the plug should stay in place in the socket.
9. Get Buggy Speakers Working Again
Your headphone jack can also get gunked up with lint and other debris from your pockets. When that happens, your phone can have problems switching from headphones to speaker when you don't have your headphones plugged in. There's no need to open up your phone or take it in to get fixed. Just stick a cotton bud down the headphone jack to clear it out and it should be good as new.
8. Turn A DVD Lens Into A Cameraphone Lens
Maybe your phone's camera lens is broken or scratched, or perhaps you just want to take higher quality close-up photos. If you have an old or broken DVD player lying around, you can actually salvage the small lens it uses and convert it into a camera lens on your phone. If you're replacing your current lens, you'll have to open your phone up and do some surgery, but if all you want is a few macro pictures, you can place it on top of your current lens to get the same effect.
7. Cool Down An Overheating Phone
We've all been there: your mobile phone is burning a hole in your pocket because it's so hot. Often this is because of the battery, so turning off battery- and CPU-draining apps can help a lot. However, you should also try and let it breathe a little bit. Take off that non-breathable case and see if that helps. The cooler you can keep your phone, the longer it will last (and the better battery life you'll get throughout the day).
6. Repair Stuck And Unresponsive Buttons
Got a button on your phone that only works half the time, or that won't seem to fully depress? Sometimes, you can fix it just by giving it a small dose of rubbing alcohol with a cotton swap -- wipe it on, press the button a few times, and hope for the best. If not, it's more likely you need to replace the button entirely. You can often find them as spare parts online at low cost, then use your tool kit to open up your phone and replace the button. If that sounds a little scary, you can always make up for the broken button with software solutions.
5. Replace A Dying Or Dead Battery
Batteries don't last forever. After a few years, it's likely your battery won't hold the same charge it used to, so it's time to get a replacement. That's easy for Android users, but iPhone users have to do a bit more work. You can buy replacement batteries online and replace them yourself without too much hassle. Grab your toolkit, open up your phone and carefully replace the battery with the one you bought online. You'll be surprised how much longer your new battery will last.
4. Revive A Seemingly Bricked Phone
If you like to jailbreak or root your phone, you're well aware of the possibility of bricking your phone -- that is, putting it into a state where it no longer turns on and has become, for all intents and purposes, as useful as a brick. Luckily, it's very hard to brick a phone, and what may seem like a brick if often a perfectly fixable issue. Check out our guides to fixing stubborn iPhones and Android phones for detailed guidance. One interesting strategy: you may be able to jumpstart it with some paper clips and pencil graphite.
3. Smooth Out Stubborn Scratches
It's unavoidable: phones get scratched. It often isn't your keys or the coins in your pocket, either -- it's the sand and dirt. If you want to keep your phone scratch-free, you can brush the bezel or sandpaper the back to get it shiny and smooth again. Your screen is another matter -- screen protectors will keep it from getting scratched (and you can make your own for about a nickel), but if your phone's screen is already scratched up, check out tip number 1 below.
2. Resurrect A Soaked Phone With Rice
The use of rice to rescue a phone that has been in water is well-known, and it really does work. If your phone takes an unexpected swim, you can save it by removing the battery (if possible), getting it to a bag of rice as quickly as you can, and leaving it there for a day or two (the longer, the better). If your screen is having problems due to moisture, you can often massage stuck pixels away with your fingers, too.
1. Replace A Scratched Or Shattered Screen
All it takes is one fateful drop to render your phone's screen useless, and it may seem like the only course of action is to upgrade. However, replacing your phone's screen is actually pretty easy, not to mention cheap. Don't believe us? Check out this gallery of a 10-year-old fixing his iPhone for $22. All you need are some tools and a little bravery, and you'll have your phone looking good as new in no time. Image: Lars Loughmann.