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[HOWTO] Replace broken digitizer on a ZTE Blade III

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#1
maddlock

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Hi broken ZTE Blade III owners!

My wife accidentally dropped her ZTE Blade III. :( The screen shattered, and I thought it would be fun to try to fix it. As I couldn't find any tutorials exclusively made for the ZTE Blade III, I also thought I'd share the result with you.

The broken phone:
Attached File  IMG_6558.JPG   95.65KB   50 downloads

Prerequisites:

First, I obviously needed to find a replacement digitizer on ebay, that is exactly the same as the one on the ZTE Blade III.

I finally ordered this:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/130944270157
But from the same seller you can find the exact same thing now with tools for only about half the price:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/130980342393

Attached File  new_digitizer_box.jpg   110.37KB   42 downloadsAttached File  new_digitizer.jpg   69.77KB   37 downloads

You will also need:
- some thin plastic tool for prying the back cover off from the main panel, and also the old digitizer off the frame. I used an old SIM card, but a guitar pick, a plastic picnic knife, or the tool that might come with your digitizer will also do.
- hair dryer or heat gun to get the old digitizer off. It melts the glue, and so the digitizer will come off more easily.
- double sided adhesive tape. You can probably use any glue to stick the new digitizer back on, but for peace of mind, I used some ancient double sided tape I had at home. You can find double sided tapes specially made for screen repairs, if you want to do a perfect job, but I think it is overkill.
- lots of patience. I'm not a mobile phone expert, so I needed lots of patience to do the job. Sometimes I felt I wouldn't succeed, but in the end it seemed like I shouldn't have worried.

The repair:

Step 1.

Power down your phone.

Step 2.

Remove the battery cover. (I hear a lot of complaints that it is difficult to remove, but instead of trying to rip it off, just insert your fingernail or some thin plastic into the slot at the bottom, and slide it around the phone. The cover actually comes off quite easily.)

Attached File  remove_batt_cover_1.jpg   80.36KB   44 downloadsAttached File  remove_batt_cover_2.jpg   84.83KB   40 downloads

Step 3.

Remove the battery, SIM and SD cards.

Step 4.

Remove the screws. There are 7 of them, not six! The one on the right, in the middle is covered by a small black warranty sticker. Make sure you remove it and the screw under, as first I didn't notice it and it gave me some quite desperate minutes. Mind you, this is the moment when you will obviously lose warranty, but by the end of this tutorial you would lose it anyway. (And I guess you can still find those black stickers available on ebay...)

Attached File  screws.jpg   95.15KB   56 downloads

Step 5.

Separate the back cover from the main panel by sticking something thin between the chrome and the matted light gray frame, and go around the phone. I used an old SIM card but you can use any other sharp plastic tools like a guitar pick or picnic knife. It is a fiddly process, so make sure you do it carefully, as you might easily break the thin plastic. Be extra careful near the volume and top buttons. (Looks like a dangerous job first, but the thin plastic is surprisingly durable.)

Attached File  remove_back_cover_1.jpg   84.64KB   83 downloadsAttached File  remove_back_cover_2.jpg   68.4KB   78 downloads

Step 6.

Once the back cover is off, you'll need to remove the digitizer's ribbon cable from the main panel's connector. (Again, very tiny plastic bits, but surprisingly durable.) First, you lift up the brownish plastic flap (works like a tiny door, opening from the side where the ribbon cable goes under it) with a flat sharp thing, like a screwdriver, then pull out the ribbon cable carefully. You'll also need to remove the other ribbon cable above the digitizer's. (They are slid through each other, I can't remember exactly which goes through which, but you'll see when you get there.)

 

Update: As PumaPerez and kallt_kaffe rightfully pointed it out in the comments, you'll have a hard time with sliding the ribbon cables in and out, if you don't lift the mainboard (PCB) from the housing first. It's glued to the housing by some sticky pad (you might also need to disconnect all ribbon cables around), just gently pull its top away from the front frame, and carry on with the repair.

Attached File  main_panel_back.jpg   150.12KB   87 downloadsAttached File  ribbon_detach.jpg   60.35KB   48 downloads

Step 7.

You can go about removing the old digitizer now.

It gets quite exciting here, as this is the point of no return. The phone was fully functional with the broken digitizer, so I knew if I screw this up, my wife would need a new phone, or seek professional help.

It is far the messiest part of the exercise, but as the digitizer is already broken, you don't need to be extra careful about it. I started heating up the left side of the screen with a hairdryer on its hottest setting (if you have, use a heat gun). As soon as I could stick the old SIM card between the digitizer and the frame, I started going around, and pry off the digitizer from the frame inch by inch. (On some videos, a suction cup is used for lifting off the digitizer, but I was in the flow, and completely forgot about it...) Make sure you don't scratch the LCD panel, or the sensors on top of the frame, as your tool will be quite near them. It is a tedious job, take your time. I was quite uncomfortable doing it, but in the end, the digitizer came off in smaller pieces. I could also use some protective glove here as the glass became quite hot. Make sure you don't heat the thing too long, as components can get damaged. Also make sure you don't loose or break the speaker grid in the process. (It's on top of the phone.)

Attached File  MVI_6600.jpg   15.04KB   69 downloadsAttached File  7_heating_2.jpg   32.18KB   59 downloadsAttached File  7_heating_3.jpg   34.98KB   55 downloadsAttached File  7_heating_4_sticking_sim_card.jpg   43.23KB   53 downloadsAttached File  7_heating_5_sim_card.jpg   21.54KB   48 downloadsAttached File  7_heating_6_digi_broke.jpg   19.96KB   53 downloadsAttached File  7_heating_7_carry_on.jpg   14.99KB   49 downloadsAttached File  7_heating_8_remove_digi.jpg   34.35KB   45 downloadsAttached File  MVI_6601-012.jpg   59.48KB   46 downloads

Step 8.

Once the digitizer is off, tap your shoulders. Well done. The hardest part is completed. Have a break, make some tea or coffee. :)

Attached File  7_digi_off.jpg   13.56KB   53 downloads

Here I also tried on the new digitizer to check if it fits at all (with a tiny hope the old glue would stick it to the frame - it didn't... :().

Attached File  MVI_6602-001.jpg   26.05KB   45 downloadsAttached File  9_try_on_new_digitizer.jpg   16.59KB   44 downloadsAttached File  MVI_6602-002.jpg   36.1KB   46 downloads

Step 9.

When you removed the old digitizer, you probably noticed the black gooey stuff around the edge of the frame. This is the glue that held the old digitizer in place. You'll need to remove it if you want to do a nice job. At this stage, I removed the LCD panel as well, as I didn't want to scratch it accidentally. For this you'll need to turn the phone over and remove the LCD's ribbon cable from the main panel. It's the one on the left, in the middle. Same as the digitizer's, you lift up the flap with a flat pointy thing, then carefully pull out the ribbon cable. Turn the phone around again and shake the LCD off from its cradle. My LCD came off quite easily, but there was some long sticky thread that held it in place, so you might have a different experience.

Attached File  MVI_6603.jpg   11.26KB   48 downloadsAttached File  MVI_6603-001.jpg   35.52KB   46 downloadsAttached File  MVI_6603-004.jpg   44.18KB   43 downloads

Step 10.

I carefully cleaned off the old sticky stuff around the frame with a small flat screw driver, some cotton buds, toothpicks and good old pálinka (alcohol). I also used the leftover pálinka internally on myself. :)

Attached File  9_cleaning_with_sd.jpg   45.13KB   40 downloadsAttached File  9_cleaning_4.jpg   50.35KB   37 downloadsAttached File  9_cleaning_3.jpg   43.76KB   37 downloadsAttached File  MVI_6607-001.jpg   42.68KB   32 downloadsAttached File  cleaning.jpg   121.92KB   33 downloadsAttached File  9_cleaning_2.jpg   46.28KB   32 downloads

Step 11.

Once the frame is spotlessly clean, I used some old double sided sticky tape I had at home. I was too lazy to get something better, but it seemed to do the trick. (You can also find various double sided tapes for screen repair on ebay, if you want.) It is a fiddly job, I used scissors and a razor blade to cut the tape into the correct positions. The edges are very thin, but you'll need to apply bigger pieces on top and bottom. Make sure you don't cover the sensors on top of the phone. It is actually an important part of the repair, as without good sealing, dust can easily get under the digitizer. Make sure you don't leave the speaker grid out, if it came off with the old digitizer...

Attached File  11_tape_1.jpg   47.13KB   38 downloadsAttached File  11_tape_2.jpg   48KB   33 downloadsAttached File  11_tape_3.jpg   46.62KB   36 downloadsAttached File  11_tape_4.jpg   25.99KB   31 downloadsAttached File  11_tape_5.jpg   16.32KB   30 downloadsAttached File  11_tape_6.jpg   47.25KB   30 downloadsAttached File  11_tape_7.jpg   46.72KB   32 downloadsAttached File  11_tape_8.jpg   47.21KB   24 downloadsAttached File  11_tape_9.jpg   43.88KB   28 downloadsAttached File  11_tape_10.jpg   45.6KB   31 downloadsAttached File  taped_up.jpg   83.77KB   34 downloads

Step 12.

Put the LCD panel back into the frame, secure its ribbon cable on the other side, and when you feel ready, peel off the backing from the double sided adhesive tapes around the frame.

Attached File  12_LCD_back.jpg   21.37KB   41 downloadsAttached File  11_tape_12.jpg   11.3KB   36 downloads

Step 13.

Guide the new digitizer's ribbon cable back through the panel into the back of the phone. You can wait with securing it into the panel.

Step 14.

Remove the foil from the back side of the new digitizer and put it on top of the LCD, starting from the top, making sure it (and the LCD) is clean and there is no dust stuck between them. (You can use pressurized air to blow out dust, but I didn't have it.) After you place the digitizer into position, don't push it down yet, because you might want to check first if there is no dust or any smudges between the digitizer and LCD. You might need to lift it up.

Step 15.

Turn your phone around. Secure the LCD panel's (and the digitizer's, if you haven't done it) ribbon cable back onto the panel.

Step 16.

Click the back cover back on, but before putting the screws back, put the battery in and switch the phone on to check if the assembly went well. The LCD should come alive, and also respond to your touches.

Step 17.

If everything is OK, power down the phone, remove the battery, screw the screws back, put in cards, put in the battery, replace the battery cover, turn around the phone, and carefully push down the new digitizer around the frame to make it stick on well. Remove the foil if you haven't done so.

Step 18.

Turn your phone back on, and if it works all right, just smile, as you've just successfully fixed your phone, had a fun afternoon and also saved some bucks.

Attached File  IMG_6615-001.JPG   94.57KB   48 downloads

Hope it will be useful to some of you.

maddlock

Thanks for user Goots for inspiration:
http://www.modaco.co...reen-zte-blade/


Edited by maddlock, 20 October 2014 - 06:08 PM.

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#2
West enkovec

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Hi!
Thank you for this topic. My girlfriend had a similar accident. The digitizer is in one piece, but the LCD broke because the device has fallen sideways.

Posted Image


Posted Image

Do I need the whole front mask/frame (link), or just the digitizer + LCD (link)?
I supose the whole front frame would be easier to replace. Am I right with my assumption?

One more thing. Those ebay items that I linked have a real, working LCD, right? Lol.
Is the quality same as the quality of the LCD already built in?

Thank you!

Edited by West enkovec, 17 September 2013 - 07:26 PM.

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#3
maddlock

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I would go for the digitizer + LCD solution. It's cheaper, and I've done it once, so I'd feel comfortable to do it again. I'd try to use a suction cup to lift up the digitizer. (If you don't damage it, you might as well recycle it back on...)

Replacing the whole frame might be easier indeed. However, checking back on my memory and photos, during disassembly, I tried to separate the main panel (motherboard) from the frame to do a clean job, but the button cell battery was soldered onto the frame by thin wires. Although it would have been an easy job to remove it, I left it on. So, I can't tell you exactly, if taking the main panel off and back on is OK to do so or not. Probably is. Let me know how it went, if you go this way...

You can also try to disassemble the phone (and back) before buying anything, just to check if it seems like something you can do, or not. This is what I did, anyway... And you can still decide which way to go, after opening up the phone.

I guess the LCD is working, and probably is the same quality. At least my digitizer looked exactly like the broken, original one. Make sure you check the comments on the seller's page on ebay before you buy, though.


Edited by maddlock, 28 September 2013 - 03:22 PM.

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#4
PumaPerez

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just wanted to say thanx. i will be using this guide in few days, digitizer already purchased from ebay.


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#5
maddlock

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Exciting times... Good luck with it!


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#6
PumaPerez

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just finished. it was not so hard as it seems to be. only struggled with removing old digitizer`s cable. i was wondering how would so big connector go through that little space between LCD`s frame and PCB. solution was just cut that cable with scissors. but when i try to stick there a new digitizer`s cable i realize there must be other way. i finally found out that PCB was glued to frame. so just pushed a little bit harder and split PCB from frame and then connector easily goes through.

 

thank you again for your contribution. good job ;)


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#7
kallt_kaffe

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Thanks for this guide. Just repaired one using the guide. I was also a bit confused about the ribbon cable part as the PCB was stuck pretty good but after heating the phone to remove the glass i tried it again while the phone was still hot and the PCB came off a lot easier.


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#8
maddlock

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Yeah guys, sorry I forgot to say anything about the ribbon cable being a tight fit. It's because my original intention was to rip the phone apart completely to do a clean job, but when I realized the button cell battery was soldered to the main board, I left the PCB on. As it was already lifted from the housing, there was no problem with sliding the ribbon cables through the tight bits. I guess I'd better update the post. Thanks.


Edited by maddlock, 03 November 2013 - 11:26 AM.

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#9
ztebladeIII

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Thank You maddlock!!! Another zte blade 3 was saved thanks to your pretty guide!

Cheers!


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#10
maddlock

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Great and well done!


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#11
PumaPerez

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just wanted to add that step 11 is very, very important. i also used some old doubleside tape and my phone is now full of dust :) dont underestimate this step!


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