Nokia phone maker HMD Global has partnered with US self-repair firm iFixit to produce a handset you can fix yourself using supplied tools and replacement parts.
To try this, I disassembled and reassembled the four self-repairable components of the new Nokia G22: the battery, the screen, the charge port and back cover. You purchase replacement components and the required tools which are available from iFixit’s Australian website.
The acid test was whether the replacement process was simple enough for a person with limited technical experience to perform, or whether you’re better off leaving this phone’s repairs to the experts.
I found that fixing this phone was no pushover. Even with moderate technical skill, you need good eyesight, a steady hand, lots of patience, fastidiousness and an ability to follow instructions to the letter.
Further, in two of the four repairs – replacing the screen and the battery – I was foiled when I had to lift out the battery by pulling on the adhesive tabs supporting it.
The glue is supposed to be soft, however it felt like HMD Global must have used Tarzan’s Grip, Super Glue or Liquid Nails as the adhesive was just too strong and, despite several tries, the darned battery wouldn’t budge.
I didn’t try to prise the battery out using a wedge or a lever because I would have risked puncturing the battery and creating a fire hazard; nightmare memories of the exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7 came to mind. So I backed away and reassembled the phone.
Nevertheless I successfully completed steps to that point, thanks to the excellently illustrated do-it-yourself step-by-step guides for these four repairs produced by iFixit. The US startup has produced thousands of written and video guides since this venture began in 2003.
My battery replacement operation started well enough. It involved using what looks like a guitar pick to wedge around the screen’s edges to remove the back. At first I felt like I’d break the G22 doing this, but it was fine.
I was almost there after flipping open the back cover, disconnecting the fingerprint reader, removing the motherboard cover, and disconnecting the battery cable, until I hit a brick wall trying to remove the battery.
Screen replacement was more complex because it also involved removing the loud speaker, disconnecting the display and antenna cables, removing the charging port assembly and vibrator motor, the earpiece speaker, camera bracket and the fragile power and volume button cable until there was basically nothing left except the old screen, which you discard.
After substituting the replacement part, you follow iFixit’s directions in reverse to reassemble, and while some actions are easier, like clipping the back onto the screen, others require extra care such as ensuring tiny connector pins are aligned before you clamp them together, otherwise you risk permanent damage. The flimsy power and volume button cable looked like it would tear at any moment, but thankfully did not.
I concluded that glued and taped-on parts are the enemy of self repair as either you can’t remove them, or if you can, the adhesive might be too weak when you reattach them. Some kits include thermal adhesive, however phone makers would be better to secure all parts by pins or screws to further aid self repair.
Amazingly, after each repair the phone worked, including the fingerprint reader which I had disconnected four times, the speaker and vibration unit. To be honest, if the phone didn’t work I’d be at a loss where to start troubleshooting, except to pull it apart again, reassemble and cross fingers.
Nevertheless it is great HMD Global and iFixit have forged this partnership, which is ongoing. I probably would have managed all four procedures had the battery adhesive given way. The irony is that phones with easily removable batteries were common a decade ago. We prioritise thinness above all.
G22 replacement parts including tools for the charge port, screen, battery and back cover cost from $32.99, $82.99, $42.99 and $42.99 respectively from iFixit’s Australian website.
Parts are marginally cheaper without the tools.
If you want to fix phones and other tech regularly, you might invest in iFixit’s Pro Tech Toolkit ($124.99) or the Essentials Electronic Toolkit ($49.99), which is sufficient for G22 repairs.
Fantastic concept that saves consumers money. Keeping phones going longer through self-repair is also good for the planet. The G22 however needs some tweaking to be truly self repair. 7.5/10
Published by Channel News Australia.