Replacing the screen on a BlackBerry PRIV – can I do it?

As you all know by now, I am a dedicated BlackBerry cell phone loyalist.  For me, BlackBerry phones are much more dependable and secure than iPhones or Samsung Galaxy phones.

Unfortunately, last year I had a wee little accident with my BlackBerry PRIV phone.  And by “wee little accident,” I mean that I dropped it.  And you know what happens when you drop a cell phone.  As it fell, it landed on the corner of a metal desk, and a big broken gouge appeared on the side of my screen.

Now I eventually replaced the PRIV with my current phone, a BlackBerry KEYone, and I’m quite happy with the KEYone.

But I’d like to keep the PRIV around … it has a decent camera on it, it can still handle social media posts and I can record video footage.  I can even use it wherever there’s free wifi available.  Even if I can’t make calls on it, I can still use it for other things.

But nobody in the area can repair a BlackBerry PRIV cracked screen.  And the few repair places I’ve called (the closest one for BlackBerry screen repairs was in West Virginia) won’t even touch the phone for under $300 up front, plus shipping costs and maintenance fees.

Screw that.  I know what “maintenance fees” are, it’s what they call “We’d rather work on an iPhone than whatever you’re using to make phone calls, buddy.”

Then again … I had an idea.  After watching a few YouTube video clips that claim a BlackBerry PRIV’s screen can be replaced without trouble … I was intrigued.  I could buy replacement BlackBerry PRIV parts on Amazon, and certainly with a little pluck and luck, I could replace the screen myself.

Okay, stop laughing.

Yes, I’m going to repair my cell phone.

I said stop laughing.

Obviously, for me to do this, I have to practice on some beat-to-crap BlackBerry phones.  The ones that have screens that look like they were used for target practice.  If I can remove the screen on three broken BlackBerry phones and replace them without trouble … then I’ll undertake the procedure on my current PRIV.

Besides … broken BlackBerry phones can be acquired for minimal cost.  A few dollars for “spare parts,” shall we say.

Again … stop laughing.  I will fix the phone.  I have to.  I’m not going to write a blog post about how I FAILED to fix a phone.

First thing I needed was a test phone.  $40 later, I purchased a BlackBerry PRIV whose screen looked as if it fell off the top of Mount Everest and plummeted through a crevasse all the way to America.  Oh yeah, and the phone was bricked.  Without the access data from the phone’s previous owner, this BlackBerry PRIV is unusable.  And the screen itself is cracked to the point where there are dead spots on the screen.

This is the phone I will practice on.  And be aware – once I finish practicing with this phone, I’m destroying the contents.  Whatever personal data existed on this phone previously … it’s not anything I wish to see or to acknowledge.  Besides, this is an STS100-3 BlackBerry PRIV, which means I couldn’t use it on the Verizon cellular network anyways.

I used a heat gun to soften the adhesives that hold the LCD screen to the phone.  Once the adhesives softened up, I shimmed a razor blade under the glass … just enough to wedge an old plastic credit card underneath – and then ran the shim all the way down the sides of the phone.

The glass came off; its only connection to the phone is a simple ribbon cable.  Good.  Practice worked.

Now for the fun part.

I heated up the screen on my BlackBerry Priv, and shimmed a razor blade into an open seam.  Then I forced an old credit card through the heated adhesive.  The screen came off.  Yay.

I put the replacement screen on, connected the little ribbon cable, powered up the phone and …

and …

Hmm.  Not working.

I took the screen off.  Dang, that ribbon cable is fragile and tiny.  Let’s keep trying.

I think I have it this time.

Closed up the phone and …

and …

Still dead.

This ain’t Lazarus, man.

Okay, NOW you can start laughing.

But only for a moment.  Because I’m going to put this phone aside.

And maybe three months down the line, six months down the line, I’ll try this again.

And maybe … just maybe … I’ll achieve some success with this project.

And even if I don’t … I still have my BlackBerry Q10, and it still works.

No need to remove THAT face plate any time soon…