I recently upgraded from the Motorola RAZR V3 to a SLVR L7. I’ve never been a fan of “flip-phones” but I did enjoy my time with the RAZR. It is a good looking addition to any geek’s gadget collection. When the SLVR came out I just about fell in love. Then of course they came out with Q and I was lusting once again…
Anyway, to make a long story short I “gifted” my RAZR to someone I knew to replace a Samsung E317. This person liked the RAZR and soon after started getting the ringtones they could never download with their old E317. Now after years of excellent service in my hands, soon after, the screen on this thing was toast. Let’s just say you shouldn’t clamshell these babies over your beltloop and expect it to last when it gets booty bumped by a rather hefty ass.
I thought it was a goner. I mean look at it – that’s a neat fractal pattern there on the screen but its otherwise fairly useless without the big screen. You could dial if you knew what you were doing (and indeed the phone did otherwise work). I asked a friend if he could find someone to fix or sell it and he confirmed my supposition that it might just be more than it’s worth. Case closed, right? Nope!
One night browsing through eBay for a new laptop AC adapter, I decided to search for Motorola RAZR replacement LCD screens. Lo and behold, I found MANY of them and they were MUCH more affordable than I would have imagined. I ended up paying $19.95 for the screen and an ungodly $15.00 to ship the little bastard. I guess that’s another thing eBay is good for: shipping extortion.
I got the screen a few days later and set about looking for instructions on how to replace it. The seller stiffed me the instructions I requested, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I found some information on removing the faceplate but that was just the beginning as you’ll see below.
Replacing the Screen
First things first, you’ll need some tools. I used T5/T6 torx tool (included with the replacement screen), the smallest in a set of jewelers flat blade screw drivers, and a shaved down popsicle stick to do the job (I used sandpaper to shave down one end as thin as possible). I’ve seen plastic “shims” and neat tweezers but I had to resort to improvising as I don’t have either. You might want some glue to keep the parts joined as well. I didn’t have any so I just put everything back together hoping the remnants of factory glue would hold well enough.
So the first step is to remove the battery from the phone. We don’t want any fireworks nor do we want to damage any of the sensitive electrical components inside the unit. With that done we can start having some fun.
Next, flip open the phone and remove the rubber pieces covering the screws that hold the screen assembly together. My phone was already missing one and I ended up losing another in my haste to put things back together.
Take the T5/T6 Torx tool you hopefully got with your replacement LCD and remove the four screws that were previously covered. This shouldn’t require too much effort and you will want to be careful not to strip these out in the process.
Now you will need to unclip the outer housing from the unit. This can be tricky and requires a bit of careful work and some patience. There are six clips holding this piece onto the phone, indicated below. Start at the top of the phone by inserting you small flat blade into the seam on each side of the camera lense. Red clips first, then yellow followed by green.
The next two clips are a bit more difficult, and I had some trouble disengaging them as they clip in toward the screen. I found that if you lift from the top and wiggle the housing a little the clips will let go with a bit of pulling, but not too hard now! The final two clips let go with relative ease when you lift the casing up and away from the phone. Note that the silver buttons will likely fall out as they are sitting in the case with nothing but the housing holding them in.
With your shaved down popsicle stick (or plastic tool as it may be) you’ll begin the process of prying off the “lense”. This piece and the circuit board are glued to the LCD screen with some rather sticky factory glue. I went around the lense 3 or 4 times, pushing in further each time to separate the lense from the circuit board and LCD screen. As you can see here there is a white film left on each after the process is complete. Again take care and be patient, if you crack the lense it’s back to eBay for more replacement parts.
You can now disengage the silver and black connector using your mini flat blade screwdriver and apply light pressure as you lift up from between the LCD screen and away from the phone. It should pop up. The other two small ribbon connectors can be removed from their white and brown sockets by inserting the flat blade screw driver in between the ribbon and the brown lever and again applying light pressure up and away from the LCD screen (these brown pieces fold out, away from the phone). You can see above I’ve disconnected the larger connectors and left the smaller one connected.
To prepare for the circuit layer removal, use your flat blade screwdriver and carefully loosen the parts of the circuit layer used for the buttons. I inserted the blade between the housing and the board and carefully pried each of the three areas away from the phone.
Get your shaved popsicle stick or plastic tool back out. Using the same action used to remove the lense, insert the tool between the LCD assembly and the printed circuit “layer” (it’s not really a board) and carefully sever the circuit from the assembly. This piece is glued using the same type of glue used to secure the lense. Be especially careful as you near the connector for the circuit board if you left it connected in the earlier step. When you have completely separated the circuit layer from the LCD unit, you can disconnect the last remaining connector if you haven’t already. You should now be able to lift the entire circuit layer away from the LCD unit.
With that fun out of the way, you can now pry the LCD screen assembly out of the housing. I used the flat blade to lift the unit up and away from the housing and then slid the entire piece out, away from the ear piece (towards the camera assembly). Here it is, the broken little LCD screen that could. Pay attention to the way this little bugger sat in the housing, obviously the new one will need to be placed with the same orientation.
Break out that fancy new (and working) LCD screen that’s been screaming at you since you got it. You may not have noticed but you likely find a thin protective plastic film on the large and small screens. Remove this and do so very carefully so you don’t scratch the beautiful new screens. I almost forgot to do this myself and am glad I remembered before I connected everything back up.
With any luck you’ll place the new LCD correctly and the connectors will match up. Re-attach the circuit layer back into the smaller white and brown connector in the screen. Remember that the brown part of the connector swings away from the LCD screen unit to allow for re-attachment of the connector. When seated simply snap it back in place by pressing it down.
With your fingers, and the flat blade screwdriver (maybe even with your fancy shaved popsicle stick or plastic tool) , re-attach the layer to the LCD screen. With any luck it will have retained some of its sticky features. After that I used the flat blade to carefully lay the button circuits back in place and re-attach them to the housing, making sure they were placed correctly in the notched areas. Now reconnect the larger silver connector and the other ribbon cable for the camera.
Take the lense and seat it over the small LCD screen by using the clear area in the center as your guide. I approximated the placement and made some minor adjustments when replacing the housing to make it sit right. Replace the buttons in their sockets, taking care to place them correctly. The large button with the indentation in the middle and the small button should be placed on the same side as each other, with the final button going back into its home on the other side. You’ll also want to ensure they are placed in their respective slots correctly, with the flattest portion of the button “template” facing the larger LCD screen (the other side of the button’s squared bottom area is more rounded if you look closely). If everything went well you’ll see something like this.
Now take the outer housing you removed and lay it in starting with the end opposite the camera. Now’s the time to reposition the lense if it doesn’t look like it’s sitting right. With a simple press and a couple light snaps the outer housing should now be re-attached. Get your T5/T6 torx tool out and screw the housing back together. You can then replace the rubber pieces (smaller ones towards the keypad).
Replace your battery and/or plugin your charger and turn on the phone. If you see something like the image below, congratulations – you’re now an expert at Motorola RAZR LCD screen repair!