Refurbishing my Samsung Galaxy Note phone

The old Samsung Galaxy Note had a tatty exterior but was good as new underneath

It's the same story of worn chrome trim at the top.
It had looked better…

Have you thought about pulling apart and repairing or refurbishing a hi-tech device like a Samsung Galaxy Note smartphone? It’s not necessarily as difficult as it sounds*, as I eventually found out. You just need a bit of guidance and courage. This isn’t a step by step guide, instead I am documenting some key fundamentals.

We’d had some bad experiences with professional phone repair services and then a run of bad luck with a series of damaged devices. In a fit of madness I wondered if I could repair and refurb them myself. Julia had recently dropped her Nokia Lumia 920, smashing the screen. Our iPad Mini screen was playing up. The elderly Samsung Galaxy Note 1 (GT-N7000) smartphone my daughter had been using was cosmetically looking rather frayed at the edges. Further madness ensued and I decided to have a go at replacing the screen on the Nokia. That will be the subject of a separate post. That project went well and encouraged me to turn my attention to the Galaxy Note.

It was looking very tatty and neglected. Underneath the tired and cracked tempered glass screen protector and worn-away trim was, basically, a perfectly good pen-enabled smartphone.

The screen was pretty much immaculate thanks to the use of the tempered glass screen protector. The rear cover and the mid-frame, which housed the (plastic) chrome trim were quite badly worn – if only cosmetically.

As my daughter had stopped using the Note 1 in favour of a Galaxy Note 4 I decided to sell it on after refurbishing it. I identified the parts that needed to be replaced, found some YouTube videos showing what needed to be done. Finally, I summoned up enough courage to do it!

Here you can browse some photos of the before, during and after stages of the refurb project:


Key tips

  1. Get the necessary tools. These will include very small screwdrivers with the correct shaped tips; watchmaker screwdrivers may not be enough. Don’t forget prising tools for forcing apart plastic parts without damaging. These are all widely available as inexpensive kits you can buy on Amazon or eBay. You will also need a heat gun for softening the glue that some parts are held together by.
  2. There are a lot of articles and videos you can find online that go into a lot of detail about the process for dismantling your device. Don’t start until you studied these fully.
  3. Make sure you keep all the bits like screws and other components in a secure place – a magnet is great for screws, for example.
  4. Be patient and don’t force anything!
  5. Take photos along the way so you can recall what was where and connected to what when you are reassembling everything.

There is a surprisingly wide selection of spare parts available for projects like this. Most are third party reproductions rather than original manufacturer parts and where you can get the originals they will usually be a lot more expensive. Be very careful when buying parts. While non-originals can be very good, originals will be risk-free. Advertisers will often try to present non-original parts as if they were originals and sometimes it’s not easy to see that parts being advertised, while being originals, are actually recovered parts that aren’t new.

This kind of project is certainly not for everyone. You may save a bit of cash compared to getting it done professionally but I found it did take a lot longer than I had expected. For me it was good fund and I am encouraged to have another go, although I don’t deny there were some frustrations and head-scratching along the way.

After refurbishment.
After refurbishment.

As for my old Samsung Galaxy Note, it sold on eBay for a very good price and I am very pleased that the phone has an extended lease of life and I hope its new owner is very happy with it.

*You should not attempt a project like this without considering the possibility that you could cause additional and permanent damage. I cannot be held responsible for any such damage. This article only serves to document my personal experience. It is solely your choice to use my words as inspiration to attempt something similar.

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