The Making of FrankeNexus: Repairing Stella’s Nexus 4Michael Graves | October 4, 2013
A couple of weeks ago Stella’s beloved Nexus 4 had an unfortunate meeting with asphalt. It fell from an outside pocket of her purse as she was getting out of the family vehicle. The upshot of the event was a broken front glass and loss of touch functionality. Everything about the phone worked, but she could not even answer a call without touch capability.
Happily, her phone was still covered by insurance, which I had more than once thought to cancel. The insurance would not replace the Nexus 4 with the same model as just days before they had become unavailable. In the run-up to the October launch of the Nexus 5 Google has let inventory lapse so replacements were not to be found.
The insurance company offered a refurbished Samsung Galaxy S3 in white. While this might have been acceptable to most people it presented Stella with a certain problem. Her company-issued cell phone is a Samsung Galaxy S3 and she’s not especially happy with it. She prefers her Nexus 4.
A quick look online revealed that there are some places that could repair the broken Nexus 4. Gophermods was once such service, quoting $170 for the job. At the present time they report “out of stock” on the screen replacement. I wonder if parts will start becoming hard to get as the phone fades from the front line?
I recall back in the spring Karl Fife telling a tale of making a repair to a similarly damaged Nexus 4. He advised that the display, digitizer, glass and frame are available as a unit. Further, that it was a lot easier to replace that combination vs just the glass and digitizer, even of the it cost a bit more for the parts. Given the availability of the parts, and lots of supporting info available, we decided that I would try to repair the phone.
I looked around online for the required parts. On Amazon I found LG E960 Nexus 4 Display LCD Touchscreen Front Glass Complete Set offered for $165.55. On Ebay I found the same assembly for $135. There were many offers of the assembly that involved it shipping from a location in Asia, with expected delivery in 10-14 days. I selected a seller that was located in Texas and holding inventory. The part arrived in just a few days.
The repair took me a couple of hours, but I admit that I was going slowly and taking great care. There are a number of online videos available that go through this repair nicely.
As Karl has noted, the internal design of the Nexus 4 is most impressively modular. It’s relatively simple to disconnect, and later reconnect, all the internal sub-assemblies. To quote an old insurance commercial, “…a cave man could do it.”
I’m happy to report that Stella has been carrying the repaired phone, and reports it working normally. Stella’s especially happy that she didn’t lose any of the content from her phone. That was the case when she move from her prior phone to the Nexus 4.
For her part, Stella has gone ahead and ordered another Expert Shield protective kit to cover the brand new front of the phone. She’s also ordered a new bumper.
There’s one minor issue with the camera being blurry. I suspect that I need to reopen the case and clean the area around the camera module.
This was the very first time that I’ve ever repaired a modern mobile phone. While superficially it seems like a daunting task, it’s not that bad…at least not with the LG-made Nexus 4.