Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Saving the Galaxy (S2)

This is just one of those days when I saved the galaxy. Well, Samsung Galaxy S II. Last Saturday, I was drinking my tea, when I spilled some on the phone. Nothing happened first, just couple of drops on the surface. Later in the evening it started bleeping strangely and shut down, and didn't wake up.

So, I opened the battery cover and noticed some moisture inside. I put it in the charger. Didn't do any good. Well, it sounded like it started up, but the display was black. The button keys did light up though.

So, my diagnosis was that the tea had caused a short circuit and the display had died.

Water spills have caused a temporary malfunction of my camera and other electronics couple of times before, so it's not always necessarily fatal, as long as you remove the battery quick and put it in a warm place to dry. So, I removed the battery, hoping that it wasn't too late already, and left it to dry on a heater.

However, after couple of nights on the heater, it was still just as dead as it was on Saturday. I assumed that it was bricked.

This was a real disaster. I did have the Android backup functionality enabled, but it only backs up the basic application data. The most important stuff like phone catalog and SMSs are not backed up, which is actually a bit strange. Also, pictures and other such recorded data is not backed up.

Well, the phone appeared to be working even though the display wasn't. Samsung sells a HDMI adapter for the phone, so if I bought one, I might have been able to hook it to a HDMI television and take the necessary backups.

But anyhow, I assumed opening the phone up would not make things much worse, so I started opening it.

Under the battery cover were a number of screws. I opened those and plied the internal cover open as carefully as I could. Well, I did manage to crack it a bit, but it came off nevertheless.

That exposed the motherboard.

Ok, a lot super-tiny surface mount circuitry. There were some five super-tiny connectors. I assume the biggest one was the display connector. So, I took it open and examined the motherboard with a magnifying glass (actually an inverted 7x monocular but anyhow). All was well, except in the display connector, where there was one oddly black pin.

Yeah, that looked bad. Apparently, the liquid had caused it to short circuit with a neighbouring pin and eventual failure. Well, perhaps not even a short circuit, just the accumulation of corrosion (copper oxide or whatever) on the pin because of ion exchange in the liquid medium could have caused it.

So, I took a bottle of CRC, a small screwdriver, and some lens cleaning paper, and wrapped the screwdriver in the paper, wet the paper with CRC, and scrubbed the connector. Closed the phone again, tried it... not any better.

I opened the phone even further, took open all the five tiny connectors on the motherboard, unscrewed couple of more tiny screws, detached the glued power and volume buttons, and managed to get the motherboard off.

Well, I didn't find any more damage there, apparently the one connector pin was all the visible damage. There could have been some internal damage in the display or the motherboard, but that would have been out of my control.

Next morning, I scrubbed the burned connector again even better, also with a bare (tiny) screwdriver. I avoided doing that too much, as chipping copper off the pins could have caused even more short circuits. So, more CRC on the cleaning tissue and scrubbing. Then I closed it and screwed all the tiny screws back, believing that that was my last try.

Then, when I plugged it in the charger, it suddenly started up!!!.


That really saved my day. I hope the event didn't cause any permanent damage and all is well. Hope hope hope.

I'll promise myself that I'll try to find all necessary backup tools to make sure I won't lose anything prescious in the future.

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