Samsung, This is NOT Okay

Introduction

This is a broken Samsung Galaxy S21, and today I’m going to attempt to fix it using Samsung’s Self-Repair program. A few months ago, we took a look at Apple’s version of this program, which was incredibly expensive but honestly, kind of cool. So, let’s see how Samsung stacks up. They’ve been in the news a lot lately for having some very questionable support when it comes to their partnership with iFixit, who have, up until now, been one of the main places where you could actually buy the parts and fix your phone. Let’s see exactly how bad this is and if I can actually fix this incredibly broken S21.

The Challenge

My concern here is twofold. First, how easy is it to fix a phone like this, which is still fully functional even though absolutely shattered? Second, how easy and affordable is it to get the parts and find the instruction manuals I need to do an authorized-by-Samsung repair of my own device?

Samsung gives you the option of purchasing repair parts from iFixit or Encompass. I have a few options here. I can purchase the screen and battery, which are combined for some reason, or I can get a USB-C charge port for $67. I’ll be honest, if you’ve got this phone and you have to spend $200 to fix it, that’s bordering on not really worth it anymore, which is unfortunate. Samsung would charge you about $200 to do this repair, whereas if I buy the parts to do it myself from iFixit, it’s $167. I’m going to pretend that I cannot ship this in at all. I want to try to do it myself and see if it’s remotely worth it, and if Samsung is doing everything they can to make my experience as easy as possible or if they’re offering right-to-repair because they have to, while in reality, they’re doing everything they can to push you to just give them the phone and have them fix it themselves.

The Process Begins

iFixit will provide Samsung with my email and genuine parts history to provide integrated customer care support. One reason iFixit has complained about wanting to break off the partnership with Samsung is that they have to share your information with them so they can keep it in their database. But I’ve even heard stories that if you take this to a third-party repair shop, and maybe you put a third-party battery or screen in it, they’re supposed to not only tell Samsung about it but actually take the part out. Like, is that necessary? Do we really need to do this?

Alright, let me place this order with iFixit, grab the components I need to fix this S21, and let’s see exactly how easy, or not, the repair process really is. And so, my friends, it is time to see what iFixit has provided. We’ve got ourselves the S21 screen and battery. And it is pink. We’ve got ourselves the back cover, which is violet. The phone should look the same on the back; it’s just a matter of the front looking slightly different. So, you see it’s got the actual Samsung seals and whatnot on it. Genuine Samsung part. And then we’ve also got this further repair tool, which is the iOpener.

I’ve never worked on a Samsung phone, and I’ll be honest with you, I am not a repair wizard when it comes to smartphones in general. I’ve opened a few. This, I’m going to assume, is going to be much, much more involved. We have two repair kits. The reason they ship you the screen and the battery together is that the battery on this is actually not too bad. It’s 89%. Normally, I wouldn’t replace it, but the screen and the battery are fused together. As far as I know, based on when you actually repair them, you have to replace the screen and battery together.

The Repair Begins

I am going to be repairing this using the iFixit guide. Now, if you at home have never taken apart a phone before, theoretically, this is a tutorial that will show you exactly how to do it. It is a medium difficulty. It’s one thing to say medium; it’s another thing to get three hours into the repair of your phone, and it still doesn’t work. And then you’re really sad, and then you have to ship it into Samsung anyway, and then you’re really, really sad. I have a feeling this will be like the recipes that say 10-minute prep time but actually mean 2-hour prep time.

I’m not going to give you the absolute step-by-step. If you’re fixing an S21, you should use the real instructions. What I am going to do is go through the process as much as I can and share with you my experience with it. The first thing I need to do is pop out my SIM card. I believe the way to get into the S21 is by taking off the back glass first. Are you supposed to microwave this? Yes, apparently. Okay, let’s try it.

Getting Inside

Applying a suction cup, pulling on it, and then sticking a pick in the middle. Just a small note, if you’re ever repairing your device, if you have broken glass, be very careful because if you’re really pulling at it with a suction cup and you’ve got broken glass, it could shatter. Please be careful; maybe consider wearing gloves. Activate the suction. I’m putting this on the top edge, just warming that up, and then pulling on it. It came off way easier than I thought. There’s no shot that that’s glass. If I was just doing the rear repair, I would probably put the new adhesive on and just slap it right on.

Realizing how much I paid for this piece of plastic to repair this, it’s like 60 bucks or something just for this. You can see the difference between the two. They are identical in every way except for the fact that one’s all scratched. I need to undo five screws on the motherboard. Doing it this way teaches you a little bit more about phone repair in general. Obviously, way too early to judge, but this is actually kind of fun so far. The back cover came off so easily, which always stresses me out because you don’t want the adhesive to be too sticky or snap something. This, I can definitely handle.

The Intricacies of the Repair

The next step is to unclip it, which requires tweezers. There’s definitely something underneath it. Oh, it’s the whole wireless charging coil. With the bracket out of the way and the charging coil pulled back, we can see the battery. Unfortunately, the battery’s going to take a little more work to get through. There are a bunch of additional ribbon cables, and before taking those off, I need to remove the speaker, which is down here.

It’s always a good idea not to get too excited because it’s much easier to tear apart a phone than it is to put it back together. You’ll get it all apart and go, “Cool!” and then realize you have 300 screws spread all over the place, and suddenly you’re in deep trouble. Using a pick to disconnect the loudspeaker, it should just pop out. We’ve got the loudspeaker, the motherboard shield, and our wireless charging coil all in one nice, neat little piece.

Since I’m doing a full screen replacement, I think I’ll have to completely strip this down. After some cables are out of the way, I take off the daughterboard, which I believe would be replaced if I had to replace the USB-C. Feeling good about the process so far, I think we’re putting some good karma out there. We’re taking a phone that would probably get tossed in the garbage and breathing new life into it, even if it costs more to repair than it’s worth.

The Surprising Reveal

I realize that taking a lot of stuff out of the phone doesn’t seem to be making much progress in getting the screen out. So, the next step is to pull out the front-facing camera, which is glued inside the front housing. After heating the adhesive, the extra heat definitely helped. That is our front-facing camera, just a little guy. There are more antennas and screws holding in our millimeter wave antenna.

However, some screws are weirdly soft and do not want to come out very well. Running into a problem with a soft screw, I finally get it out. Now, with the phone basically torn down to just the screen and battery, it’s time for the final removal, the display.

The iFixit tutorial stops right before taking out the display, which is surprising. After some confusion, I realize that the screen and battery come as a whole unit, including the frame and everything. So, instead of just replacing the screen, you replace the entire chassis.

The Assembly

Going through the reassembly process, it takes about 15 minutes, which is very straightforward. I’m not going to put the back cover on yet; I want to make sure it works first. After turning it on, the screen is fully functional, and the battery now shows 20%. Testing the cameras, they all work perfectly.

Conclusion

We are recording this today on June 17th, the day that Samsung removed iFixit from their site. While a lot of things we talked about in this video are still relevant, now if you are looking for older or newer components, you have to use Encompass. After looking at the options for repairing your Samsung phone, this story is more complicated than I initially thought.

Samsung offers two options for repairs on their site: screen repair and screen module. Screen repair is what it sounds like; they replace just your broken screen. The screen module replaces the entire setup, just like I did: screen, frame, and battery. It seems clear that Samsung prefers you take the screen module route. For the S21, the screen repair costs $174, while the entire module is $199. For $25 more, you get a brand new

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