My phone was dropped from a height of less than three feet with a Speck Candyshell case installed and the screen cracked. Luckily the digitizer and SAMOLED were still fully functioning. I wondered if there was a way to replace just the glass. If you take the time to google Galaxy S3 replacement glass, you will find a mixture of threads on the subject with most saying that only a professional could do so. There are a few youtube videos on the matter, including one proclaiming that it is impossible to separate and replace only the outer glass without destroying the digitizer. This simply is NOT true. Not less than one hour ago I did exactly that.
Replacement Glass (Can be found for less than twenty dollars complete with a plastic separator, phillips screwdriver, and 3m tape cut fit.)
Painter's Tape (Or any semi-sticky tape that won't leave residue)
Small Flathead Screwdriver
What I did:
First I removed the back cover and battery from the GS3. I went into my small bathroom and misted it with a spray bottle in hopes that it would reduce the dust in the air. I set my wife's hair dryer to high heat and low speed. I heated the bottom corner of my phone first because there was a small chip that looked like it would be a good place to start prying the screen off. I used the small flathead to start the prying because the provided plastic separator was not sturdy enough to initiate this. You don't have to worry about scratching the display during this step because there is that nice gap between the display and the actual bottom of the phone as well as the top. So either of these two places would be an ideal starting point. As you SLOWLY pry the screen up you will notice a small gap of air forming between the glass and the display. As soon as the screen is just high enough to fit a plastic separator between the glass and display, do it. I can not stress enough, go sloooowwwww. If you do not remove the glass strategically and smoothly you will cause scratches or cracks in the SAMOLED glass (The actual display). Pry from the largest shards first. Once the screen was high enough for the separator I applied a lot of heat again, and especially focusing on the gap so more heat would reach the glue directly. Heat, pry, heat, pry, heat, pry. When the glass is almost separated resist the urge to speed up, it was hard for me too... It is OK if the original glass cracks a little more as you remove it, when this happens change spots where you are prying. The glass should come off as one sheet held by the glue and colored portions. Undoubtedly you will find tiny shards and perhaps a fleck or two of dust. This is where the painter's tape comes in. Use the tape to remove any debris off of the SAMOLED screen. Do not touch the actual display, not even with gloves. This will smudge what is left of the original adhesive and will lead to annoying marks under your glass after the process. I am not sure of a good solvent that would not damage the screen or I would have used it, mine has a few smudges under it. However, they are only visible when the screen is off. I then took the 3m tape provided with my glass and applied it to the two appropriate places on the phone. Next, I removed the backing off of the new glass and carefully applied it from the top to the bottom. I had to use my screw driver to keep the capacitive button ribbons under the new glass in their proper positions. Once the glass was on the phone I heated it all up one more time to make the leftover glue and the new adhesive softer. Then I applied firm pressure around the circumference of the phone only. I let my phone cool down and then replaced the battery and cover. Finally I turned my phone back on and enjoyed all the glory of my achievement when EVERY aspect of my phone was fully functional. My phone is now a hybrid pblue/white because for whatever reason the white glass was eight dollars cheaper than the blue glass. In my opinion, it looks great.
Ps For this operation the provided phillips screwdriver is not needed.
A couple of photos...
The original cracked blue glass after removal.
My new hybrid phone.
The screen on and app drawer open to show that the touch still works.
It was brought to my attention that I may want to add a disclaimer.
Disclaimer: You could f*c* up your phone even more than it it already is if you do something hastily or fail to adapt your methods to a situation different than mine. All of the above as well as 99.9999 percent of f*c* ups in the universe are not my fault.