The story how I dropped my phone and ended up with Snow White and the 6 paperweights
It was a sunny Sunday. I was in a good mood, but I was also in a hurry as usual. I left my apartment and glanced at the latest social media posts while walking down the stairs. When I got outside, I kept my phone in my hand and did a fast walk
to my car and accidentally slammed my phone to my leg. My hand couldn’t handle the impact and my phone dropped on the street... Damn...
I picked it up and I was surprised; the glass wasn’t broken and the aluminum cover had just some minor scratches. However, every time when I swiped over the screen, the side of my thumb would go over the scratched aluminum. Even Project Butter and HTC Sense Ultrasmooth couldn’t fix this sluggish feeling…
I looked on the Internet and found out that a new cover (front aluminum case + battery backcover) would only cost me about 19 euros ($25,-). Worth a try, I’d say. Just like all items I order from China, it would take my new casing about four weeks to get to my country. Just for fun, I ordered the HTC Evo 3D White edition
, which has only been available in the US. As you might know, Europe has the black edition with golden lens cover frame. So this would result in a pretty unique phone, most likely the only white one in The Netherlands.
Then, after waiting for four weeks, it finally came in.
I took some lessons
on how to dismantle the phone (found out I had no fitting screwdrivers) and began to take it apart. Of course, for a phone which cost me about 700 euros, it was quite a nerve breaker. You might want to know that in this phone, all components are glued or screwed to the front case, which I was going to replace. Meaning: the whole phone had to be dismantled. After 1 hour I finally got to the most difficult part: heating up the digitizer (capacitive glass) to ‘melt’ the glue between the glass and the case. It was harder than I thought. The glue was pretty strong and it took me about 3 hours to get the digitizer and LCD display separated from the front case. Bad thing was; when removing the digitizer I noticed some glass splinters coming off… Let’s just hope it’s going to be all right…
Finally I screwed and glued all other components back, and booted the phone. It started and looked very cool. I went to sleep in a good mood. The operation had taken 5 hours and it was 2:00 AM, time to take some rest.
The next day I noticed that not all parts on my digitizer where working. The LCD screen was working as it should, but a certain area on the screen wouldn’t response to my finger touches. It seemed a horizontal bar of about 100px high was unresponsive. The exact same spot where I broke some glass… Damn...
Again on ebay, I found out that front cases including digitizer and LCD screen where also available. This would mean I’d only have to replace the motherboard, camera buttons, front camera + speaker and microphone units. The price was again pretty low; only 33 euros ($45.70). I ordered a US black edition (with red frame), so I would have all 3 types ever made by HTC. Again, I had to wait for the items to be delivered. Although my phone was missing a row of responsiveness, it was still operational.
For 4 days.
On another sunny Sunday my phone stopped booting my ROM and (touch) recovery. The bootloader was still accessible and I thought naively it was a software malfunction. I flashed some wrong RUU’s and the phone stopped booting and charging… Damn…
I picked up an old HTC Desire from my collection and flashed some new version of CyanogenMod on it.
While waiting four weeks for my item to arrive, I found a broken HTC Evo 3D on marktplaats.nl
, a Dutch equivalent to ebay. It was a phone which had fallen on the floor, down a staircase and again on the floor. As you would imagine, it wasn’t much of a phone. “But...” -I thought- “if a new case + LCD + digitizer is only 33 euros, I could build myself a development phone for only 25 + 33 = 58 euros” ($78,90). That could come in handy when I have to test one of my HTC Evo 3D apps
for JB and KitKat. I got to the address of the reseller and found out that the phone contained a lot of parts. The reseller gave me a separate broken digitizer, the LCD screen was broken, the whole aluminum case around the front panel was gone and the back looked like it hadn’t been cleaned for a while. But hey, the motherboard was still inside, so it’s most likely still functioning. Via ebay, I ordered a new front-case including digitizer and LCD. A white one again this time.
Finally, my black case arrived. I unscrewed all loose parts from my newly bought second HTC Evo 3D and rebuild everything on the new black case. Although the digitizer wasn’t glued on very well, it looked pretty cool to have the US GSM edition. After attaching the USB charger it took some time to come to life, but finally it did.
It was 9:00 PM and I was already late for dinner. When I got back, the phone was off. No charging, no booting… Damn…
Now I had 2 bricked phones and quite some spare parts. On xda I read a thread about a malfunction in the bootloader. When the battery has absolutely no power, the phone cannot boot into its initial state to start charging. A.k.a.; you’ll need a bit of juice in your battery to get your phone to charge. Funny solution: go to a phone shop and ask if you can test the HTC Evo 3D dock battery charger for about an hour, or buy a charger. I found one on dx.com
for 8 euros ($10,90). It even came with a new battery included. Worth a try, I’d say.
The holiday season started and as I had the items being send from dx and ebay to my office, I wasn’t able to pick anything up. I guess the post order guy didn’t even visit the office building. I had to wait till the holiday season was over.
(This is the moment where you can get yourself a new beverage).
On Tuesday, January the 6th I received 2 packages; my charger and the white case. I happily replaced my case and broken digitizer with a brand new one. I fully charged 2 batteries using the new battery dock, inserted both and pressed the power buttons. Nothing happened. No charging, no booting. Nothing… Damn…
On xda I read a lot of threads about unbricking with the use of Linux Live CD’s, but none of the methods worked for either of my phones. I did read about a JTAG RIFF
box, which is a box that can be connected to your hardware directly, without the use of the USB port. All reviews looked promising, but a new RIFF box would cost me about 160 euros ($217,-). A bit too expensive in my opinion, I couldn’t be sure if it would fix my bricked phones. Again searching on marktplaats.nl
, I found a guy who owned a RIFF box and was willing to investigate my bricks. “No cure no pay” was the slogan, so it was worth a try.
On a Thursday evening I dropped off both phones at his place. He said he would take a look at them the same evening. Friday afternoon he called me. He’d been working on it the whole Thursday evening and the next Friday morning and afternoon. Both devices seemed to be dead. However, he managed to get the charging lights to work twice. He asked if I could bring him the backcovers, which I had left at home. Sure, no problem. He has been working on it Saturday afternoon and called me again. No luck. I went back to his place and collected the 2 expensive paperweights. If I take the case leftovers into account, I’d say I’d have 5 paperweights now.
Again, I started looking at marktplaats.nl for parts or a complete working HTC Evo 3D. I found one for 60 euros ($82), but as the reseller was also selling a lot of bikes, photo camera’s in groups of 5, laptops without chargers, tablets without chargers and the gear of a poor fisherman, I wasn’t going to buy it from a person who was obviously a thief.
I found another reseller, who sold his phone for 80 euros ($108,-). Again, worth a try, I’d say. I asked a colleague to pick it up, as he was living in the same city as the reseller. The next day I found a dirty, damaged and smudgy HTC Evo 3D on my desk. But it booted. Finally
Now I had two choices: clean the “new” device or unscrew all parts and place the motherboard in one of my new cases. I chose option 2. After all the hassle with the previous devices, I was getting pretty quick at taking a device apart and rebuilding it again. I chose to use the white front+lcd+digitizer, the motherboard and speaker from the “new” phone, the frontfacing camera, camera buttons and microphone from my first Evo and the black back case (just for fun). After only 30 minutes of work, I pressed the power button. It booted into bootloader.
The device already seemed to be htc dev unlocked. I tried to flash my favorite ROM, but something wasn’t right. The bootscreen showed up, but after some time it got stuck in a bootloop. I found out the previous owned had upgraded the hboot to version 1.53. According to some xda threads I should use version 1.49 to be able to flash everything I want. However, I found a boot.img which would work for 1.53. It worked, the rom started. All hardware was available, I called my brother to test the speaker and microphone; everything worked. Except wifi; under settings it said: WiFi error… Damn…
It seemed it had something to do with the combination of hboot, boot.img and kernel. The best solution seemed to be to downgrade to hboot 1.49. After quite some hassle with JuopunutBear
and the difficult Wire Trick
, I managed to downgrade to hboot 1.49. I got S-off, but a locked bootloader. Not that big of a deal, I’ve been htc dev
unlocking bootloaders a lot of times in the past. I managed to flash my rom again and it booted fine.
Finally a working HTC Evo 3D again.
What lessons did I learn from this?
1. Always stay curious and try to learn from your faults
was wrong when I bought the 6th device. I got it working
Wait a minute! You said your Evo 3D White has 6 paperweights!
True, I purchased another damaged HTC Evo 3D, which I will try to combine with the US black edition case+lcd+digitizer.
I expect it to be delivered next week
Thanks for reading!