I picked it up, and found that the screen under the glass still was undamaged, and the touch interface performed as perfectly as before. I found replacement glass online for ~$20, and assumed I could replace the glass alone...
Unfortunately, I was informed that the Galaxy series of OLED pannels is laminated to the glass, and I would require the entire screen assembly. This was $225 shipped.
I still had hope I may be able to just replace the glass, but now that I had both part options available, I felt I had strong odds I would end up with a fixed device, and I began to dig in.
Remove the back cover, batter, SIM, and uSD cards.
Using a #0 philips screw driver I removed the 9 screws from under the back cover, and started prying on the two halves. Its turns out, the whole back half of the case is 1 piece, and where I was trying to pry (where you would pry if it was a Galaxy S2) is NOT the place it can split, and you need to pry between the crome lip of the case and the outside of the glass' bezel. I found starting from a bottom side corner worked best, and I could work my thumbnail around popping the little clips as I went. I started the gap in the seam very gently with a pocket knife as a pry tool.
::::: The uUSB port area needs special attention to pry it back so it slips over the protrusion! ::::
In about 5 minutes of careful edging my way around, it was pried free.
There were 3-4 little black screws that are also #0 phillips to free the mobo. It's TINY! Blows my mind to think of all the computing and communication power that is crammed into this tiny little ~10gram PCB.
Remove each of the little ribbon cable connectors by prying up on the edge with your finger nail (there are 5-6 of them I think), and a single coaxial cable connector near the corner where the thin arm intercepts the upper rectangle of PCB. I missed that cable on my first try, and thank God I was being gentle, as I nearly tore it before I saw it was still connected.
Now we can see the guts of the MoBo. Too bad the pictures are such a crappy quality from using a POS Nokia E71 to take them...
So, the job isn't over yet, and the hard part is next... Prying the glass/display panel assembly out of the bezel assembly. It is not as easy as it looks.
I do not think my method was the best approach, but it got the job done. If someone has a better method, it would be great to share it.
I first warmed the glass with a hair dryer, than began looking for a place I could pry, not entirely sure of where or how it comes apart. It turns out, the glass has to lift up out of bezel plastic area, and it's got big thick pads of adhesive strip at the top and bottom edge.
After much tail-chasing in working my way around with the exacto-knife, I realized that I was getting nowhere, as the adhesive would re-adhere the moment I pulled the blade out to work on the next area... So, I decided I would need something to act as a shim to keep the area I had pried away from re-attaching at I moved forward. I found the spare blades in my exacto-knife kit worked perfectly for this.
Eventually it gave way! Woot! When it finally released, the OLED panel delaminated from the glass, and broke into about 8 chunks, and ended my hope of replacing just the glass portion alone. I think if someone were exceptionally careful, good adhesive heating, good careful thin shim material application, they MIGHT be able to replace just the glass portion alone and not break the OLED panel. This would allow breaking the glass to actually only cost $20 if you were some sort of wizard who could de-bond the panel and other things from the glass without breaking them.
So, now that my broken screen/glass is out, I flip it over and compare it with the new one... Umm!! WTF?? The old one has a connector my new one doesn't! Sh*t!!! At this point I'm thinking I might be $1,000usd into a device that isn't going to work.
So, I'm thinking I've got nothing to lose, so I start pealing away at the layers near that connector, hoping for a miracle. Things aren't looking good.
I keep pealing away, and hey! I got down deep enough that it's pealing that thing off with the connector! Tearing away some foam-like adhesive as it goes.
Hooray! I've got some hope now! I stick that thing to the back of the new OLED panel. The glue doesn't stick anymore at all, so it's more like setting it in place and trying to line it up as best as possible. I'm not really thinking it's going to work at this point...
But I put everything back together in the reverse order of taking it apart, and WOOT!!! It all works!!! The digitizer works perfectly even though it's not even adhered to the back, and it's positional accuracy is perfect too!! I don't know how that's even possible, but it works perfect!
No dead pixels or bad spots on the screen, and not even a scratch or knick anywhere on the phone. :) I'm VERY VERY HAPPY!!!