[With pics] How to replace only the glass (not the whole "LCD") on a Galaxy S3!

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vantt1

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Dec 23, 2011
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[With pics] How to replace only the glass (not the whole "LCD") on a Galaxy S3!

You don't.

Although it is entirely possible, the chance of failure if done by people with absolutely no experience with mobile phone repairs is very high.

If you've broken the screen on your Samsung Galaxy S3 and have considered replacing the screen by yourself because your local mobile phone repair shops charge a hefty price for the repair, you should reconsider. You may have seen videos like the following that make it seem it is very easy to replace the glass only:

(skip to 3:00 in this one)

Maybe it seemed too easy. That's because it was too easy. Chances are those screens have already been replaced before by a third party who has access to professional equipment and skills. Possibly the screen has been broken more than once?

Even if you do successfully replace the glass only, it is guaranteed that you will get scratches, dust, fingerprints and adhesive marks on the Super AMOLED panel, no matter how much you clean it. That's because you won't be doing the repair with gloves on in a clean room free of dust. And that's not all - after a few weeks or months of use, dust will somehow find a way to get in between the glass and SAMOLED+ panel because you didn't use machine-cut adhesive that adheres your glass perfectly, leaving no gap for dust to get in. Your screen's touch sensitivity will drop as well, since it's not making adequate contact with the digitizer. And on top of that, the visibility will also drop.

Those problems don't show up on camera, and can easily be masked/hidden from the camera, too.

If this is only your first time breaking the screen on your S3, those tutorials won't work for you because your screen was manufactured as one whole piece by Samsung. The glass on your phone won't fall out by itself because the whole glass is optically laminated to the SAMOLED+ panel using a Liquid Optically Clear Adhesive, or LOCA for short. This kind of adhesive is a little bit sensitive to heat, but can't be completely removed because it is cured using UV light, not heat.

Optical lamination is a manufacturing process employed in more high end mobile devices that eliminate the air gap usually present between the display panel (usually either LCD or AMOLED) and the glass digitizer panel on top. Phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, Note 2 and Note 3, iPhone 4/4S/5/5S/5C, HTC One X, One, Butterfly, Droid DNA, LG Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Sony Xperia Z, Z1, Z Ultra etc. have displays that are optically laminated. Optical lamination has a number of advantages:

  • Visibility is increased (especially under sunlight), since there aren't multiple layers reflecting ambient light creating optical interference
  • Screen clarity is increased, since optical lamination makes the display look like it is on top of the glass as opposed to being under it
  • It is impossible for debris like dirt and dust to get trapped in the air gap between the display and glass, because that gap is filled with LOCA
  • Higher contrast ratio, because there's less light reflecting off the parts of the screen that aren't emitting light

But the biggest disadvantage is the increased cost of repair. That's what you have to pay for all those aforementioned advantages. It also certainly doesn't help that the screens are getting thinner and thinner every year. The likelihood of breaking the screen increases every year too.

Here's a little photo album that I'd like to share with everyone documenting my experiences trying to remove the glass from full original Samsung screens that haven't been replaced or tampered with before. Click to enlarge.



This is a picture of the Black Samsung Galaxy S3 GT-i9300. Only the glass was broken, so I attempted to separate it from the AMOLED panel using a heat gun and some plastic pry tools. So far so good, until the AMOLED panel broke because it is optically bonded to the glass and also stuck to the frame underneath it. You can still see some LOCA on the AMOLED panel and glass.




Second is the Galaxy S4 GT-i9505. It was broken on the top half, so I started removing the glass from the bottom. Again, the LOCA wasn't very cooperative, staying quite solid throughout the removal. Eventually, the S4's AMOLED panel broke too.

It didn't look like the broken original Samsung screens wanted to be separated, so I moved on to fully intact screens.




It was a pain trying to separate this one. The adhesive was very difficult to remove, and the screen's touch digitizer circuit and polarizer started to separate from the AMOLED panel. As you can see, the glass came off intact, but the AMOLED underneath was completely destroyed.




It doesn't look like the digitizer circuit/polarizer is bonded to the AMOLED. It just gets sandwiched on top, so it is very easy to unintentionally separate it from the AMOLED instead of leaving it on and only removing the glass, especially if the glass is smashed into a thousand fragments. The glass was in one piece though, and you can see how that turned out.




This is a good representation of what the AMOLED sandwich consists of. From top to bottom:

  • Gorilla Glass
  • Touch digitizer circuit/polarizer (you can see the rest of the glass is a lot darker than the top left corner where polarizer was removed)
  • AMOLED panel (it looks very reflective without the polarizer on top of it)
  • Midframe




Some of the AMOLED panel itself came off and was still stuck to the glass!




You can see how thin and fragile the AMOLED panel is on the Samsung Galaxy S series phones. Sure, it's thin, but is it worth it? The panel has to be supported by the frame and the glass to stay intact. The panel on the S4 has a slimmed down bezel and was made thinner again, so it's a lot easier to break the AMOLED on the S4 than it is on the S3.




Ugh, don't even get me started with the iPhone 5 screen. LCDs are more robust than AMOLEDS but still...so much LOCA...so much glass...




Sure, these glass panels can be had for about $10, but is it worth all the effort to end up with a screen full of dust and fingerprints, has a warped frame and will eventually come loose and fall off, or simply just to destroy the AMOLED panel then spending extra money on a whole display assembly? Reapplying the glass leaving no gaps for dust to get in requires adhesive that is machine-cut perfectly for your frame.

Edit: Even then, you still don't have any LOCA or the necessary facilities to fill that air gap. (Thanks to @KrzychuG !)



Do you have what it takes?

Sorry for such a long post. I'm spending my time, efforts and money so you don't have to. I will occasionally add to this thread when I get more screens to experiment with.
 
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AdamOutler

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Feb 18, 2011
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Most of the time its a better idea to just buy an entire replacement. I've replaced glass on nexus 7's and Galaxy Note2's a few times. it's not fun to replace glass or lamination, and it's just a whole lot easier to purchase a "parts" phone with a working display from ebay and swap out boards. Glass is one of my least favorite things to play with.
 
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HankChill

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Jun 23, 2012
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I will never, ever separate the glass and the screen. I know that it will break for sure. When I replace phone glass, I replace the entire front screen assembly which includes the glass, screen, and any frame to attach it into the phone. Even if it's just the glass that's broken and the LCD still works, still replace the entire front assembly.
 

Ricky Divjakovski

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i have tried this multiple times and all i can say is for anyone at home wihtout the professional equipment your not gonna get anywhere.. this isnt like and iPhone 3G/S where you take the screen off and seperate the LCD from the digitizer with a heatgun or hairdryer, ive tried all possible ways an failed every single time, either broken AMOLED or in some cases half the AMOLED comes off with the adheasive...
just save your money and buy the digitizer with the AMOLED attached..
 
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andr3wchong

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Jul 3, 2012
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I will never, ever separate the glass and the screen. I know that it will break for sure. When I replace phone glass, I replace the entire front screen assembly which includes the glass, screen, and any frame to attach it into the phone. Even if it's just the glass that's broken and the LCD still works, still replace the entire front assembly.

but what will you do with the old screen with the broken front glass ?
 

matmaneyre

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Nov 8, 2006
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I have replaced many screens, and in my experience, you're always best buying everything as readily assembled as possible. Out of 5 attempts at separating the S3 Glass from the AMOLED panel, I have managed it twice without breaking the AMOLED, and that involves also keeping the digitser intact as well, which is between the outer glass and the AMOLED.

Back when I was doing this, you were looking at £175+ for the complete assembly, so to some people, £20 at a risk was worth it if I could manage it. Now though they're cheap enough to replace the whole lot without the worry.

There is an app on Play Store called ifixit which gives pretty detailed step-by-step instructions for most DIY teardowns and fixes for phones, tablets, consoles and even some household applicances, and they have a website too. Unfortunately, it's only experience (and expense) that make you realise that just because they make it look doable, it doesn't mean everyone can do it easily. There are many, many pitfalls that you will only discover yourself when you take on these DIY repairs, to the point where I don't do them all that often anymore, just because it's too stressful and costly if it goes wrong. My first iPhone 4 (am I allowed to say that here? :) ) screen replacement took me 3 hours just because of how careful I was. Now I can do it in 20 minutes, just because of experience. But even then you can be plagued with problems for no apparent reason. If you don't handle stress well, my best advice is to leave it to the experts :D
 

Ricky Divjakovski

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Feb 4, 2013
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I have replaced many screens, and in my experience, you're always best buying everything as readily assembled as possible. Out of 5 attempts at separating the S3 Glass from the AMOLED panel, I have managed it twice without breaking the AMOLED, and that involves also keeping the digitser intact as well, which is between the outer glass and the AMOLED.

Back when I was doing this, you were looking at £175+ for the complete assembly, so to some people, £20 at a risk was worth it if I could manage it. Now though they're cheap enough to replace the whole lot without the worry.

There is an app on Play Store called ifixit which gives pretty detailed step-by-step instructions for most DIY teardowns and fixes for phones, tablets, consoles and even some household applicances, and they have a website too. Unfortunately, it's only experience (and expense) that make you realise that just because they make it look doable, it doesn't mean everyone can do it easily. There are many, many pitfalls that you will only discover yourself when you take on these DIY repairs, to the point where I don't do them all that often anymore, just because it's too stressful and costly if it goes wrong. My first iPhone 4 (am I allowed to say that here? :) ) screen replacement took me 3 hours just because of how careful I was. Now I can do it in 20 minutes, just because of experience. But even then you can be plagued with problems for no apparent reason. If you don't handle stress well, my best advice is to leave it to the experts :D
you musty be really good :p out of i think 7 possible 8, i have managed to seperate once, but still i scratched the AMOLED...
 

matmaneyre

Senior Member
Nov 8, 2006
413
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Birmingham
you musty be really good :p out of i think 7 possible 8, i have managed to seperate once, but still i scratched the AMOLED...

It never feels like I'm very good when I see the screen go though. Just that sick feeling :/

Saying that as well, I gave the phones back to whoever they belonged to when they were done. There's nothing to say that a couple of weeks/months down the line they faced the problems of dust under the glass, touchscreen sensitivity reduced etc. They were just happy to get them back 'looking' perfect.

Never again
 

Ricky Divjakovski

Recognized Developer / Recognized Contributor
Feb 4, 2013
5,215
7,599
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25
Sydney
It never feels like I'm very good when I see the screen go though. Just that sick feeling :/

Saying that as well, I gave the phones back to whoever they belonged to when they were done. There's nothing to say that a couple of weeks/months down the line they faced the problems of dust under the glass, touchscreen sensitivity reduced etc. They were just happy to get them back 'looking' perfect.

Never again

your right, quallity also plays a BIG part aswell, like you said never know what could happen, but better brands generally have better touch respones and just generally more smoothe, i knew someone who had just got the digitizer replaced by a phone repair shop, they couldnt use their phone in the wind thats how bad the replacement was..

EDIT: response**
 

vahid8910

Senior Member
Aug 3, 2013
111
19
0
south park
thank you, says my sii p :D
you saved a sii today, i'm using my phone without screen protection so it gets scratches after long times and i said to myself that's ok, i will replace the gorilla glass. that would be open the phone replace it then close it and i will have a new sii p again :D but sounds it's not that easy.
 

paul_59

Senior Member
Feb 6, 2011
524
148
73
Very interesting thread.

I must be lucky,as on several occasions with most phones I have owned (HTC Desire hd, HTC One X, HTC One,Nexus 5, Samsung Note 3) I have accidentally dropped my phone. I've never had a case on and have on some occasions been unlucky to have the phone land on the screen, it has happened indoors and outdoors, on concrete and tarmac, despite this I haven't ever broken the glass.
 

TichDarkener

Senior Member
Jun 14, 2012
92
32
0
I very recently bought myself an used Galaxy S3 and to my great disappointment the glass has no scratches because it has been replaced. Now I got ****ty touchscreen response and already dust is gathering between the digitizer and the glass. I might try to sell it off and buy myself another one, this time checking very carefully that everything is in perfect working condition!

So much for thinking I had found a bargain for this fantastic phone (which, despite the problems, is a nice upgrade from my Galaxy Ace!) :(
 

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  • 25
    [With pics] How to replace only the glass (not the whole "LCD") on a Galaxy S3!

    You don't.

    Although it is entirely possible, the chance of failure if done by people with absolutely no experience with mobile phone repairs is very high.

    If you've broken the screen on your Samsung Galaxy S3 and have considered replacing the screen by yourself because your local mobile phone repair shops charge a hefty price for the repair, you should reconsider. You may have seen videos like the following that make it seem it is very easy to replace the glass only:

    (skip to 3:00 in this one)

    Maybe it seemed too easy. That's because it was too easy. Chances are those screens have already been replaced before by a third party who has access to professional equipment and skills. Possibly the screen has been broken more than once?

    Even if you do successfully replace the glass only, it is guaranteed that you will get scratches, dust, fingerprints and adhesive marks on the Super AMOLED panel, no matter how much you clean it. That's because you won't be doing the repair with gloves on in a clean room free of dust. And that's not all - after a few weeks or months of use, dust will somehow find a way to get in between the glass and SAMOLED+ panel because you didn't use machine-cut adhesive that adheres your glass perfectly, leaving no gap for dust to get in. Your screen's touch sensitivity will drop as well, since it's not making adequate contact with the digitizer. And on top of that, the visibility will also drop.

    Those problems don't show up on camera, and can easily be masked/hidden from the camera, too.

    If this is only your first time breaking the screen on your S3, those tutorials won't work for you because your screen was manufactured as one whole piece by Samsung. The glass on your phone won't fall out by itself because the whole glass is optically laminated to the SAMOLED+ panel using a Liquid Optically Clear Adhesive, or LOCA for short. This kind of adhesive is a little bit sensitive to heat, but can't be completely removed because it is cured using UV light, not heat.

    Optical lamination is a manufacturing process employed in more high end mobile devices that eliminate the air gap usually present between the display panel (usually either LCD or AMOLED) and the glass digitizer panel on top. Phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, Note 2 and Note 3, iPhone 4/4S/5/5S/5C, HTC One X, One, Butterfly, Droid DNA, LG Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Sony Xperia Z, Z1, Z Ultra etc. have displays that are optically laminated. Optical lamination has a number of advantages:

    • Visibility is increased (especially under sunlight), since there aren't multiple layers reflecting ambient light creating optical interference
    • Screen clarity is increased, since optical lamination makes the display look like it is on top of the glass as opposed to being under it
    • It is impossible for debris like dirt and dust to get trapped in the air gap between the display and glass, because that gap is filled with LOCA
    • Higher contrast ratio, because there's less light reflecting off the parts of the screen that aren't emitting light

    But the biggest disadvantage is the increased cost of repair. That's what you have to pay for all those aforementioned advantages. It also certainly doesn't help that the screens are getting thinner and thinner every year. The likelihood of breaking the screen increases every year too.

    Here's a little photo album that I'd like to share with everyone documenting my experiences trying to remove the glass from full original Samsung screens that haven't been replaced or tampered with before. Click to enlarge.



    This is a picture of the Black Samsung Galaxy S3 GT-i9300. Only the glass was broken, so I attempted to separate it from the AMOLED panel using a heat gun and some plastic pry tools. So far so good, until the AMOLED panel broke because it is optically bonded to the glass and also stuck to the frame underneath it. You can still see some LOCA on the AMOLED panel and glass.




    Second is the Galaxy S4 GT-i9505. It was broken on the top half, so I started removing the glass from the bottom. Again, the LOCA wasn't very cooperative, staying quite solid throughout the removal. Eventually, the S4's AMOLED panel broke too.

    It didn't look like the broken original Samsung screens wanted to be separated, so I moved on to fully intact screens.




    It was a pain trying to separate this one. The adhesive was very difficult to remove, and the screen's touch digitizer circuit and polarizer started to separate from the AMOLED panel. As you can see, the glass came off intact, but the AMOLED underneath was completely destroyed.




    It doesn't look like the digitizer circuit/polarizer is bonded to the AMOLED. It just gets sandwiched on top, so it is very easy to unintentionally separate it from the AMOLED instead of leaving it on and only removing the glass, especially if the glass is smashed into a thousand fragments. The glass was in one piece though, and you can see how that turned out.




    This is a good representation of what the AMOLED sandwich consists of. From top to bottom:

    • Gorilla Glass
    • Touch digitizer circuit/polarizer (you can see the rest of the glass is a lot darker than the top left corner where polarizer was removed)
    • AMOLED panel (it looks very reflective without the polarizer on top of it)
    • Midframe




    Some of the AMOLED panel itself came off and was still stuck to the glass!




    You can see how thin and fragile the AMOLED panel is on the Samsung Galaxy S series phones. Sure, it's thin, but is it worth it? The panel has to be supported by the frame and the glass to stay intact. The panel on the S4 has a slimmed down bezel and was made thinner again, so it's a lot easier to break the AMOLED on the S4 than it is on the S3.




    Ugh, don't even get me started with the iPhone 5 screen. LCDs are more robust than AMOLEDS but still...so much LOCA...so much glass...




    Sure, these glass panels can be had for about $10, but is it worth all the effort to end up with a screen full of dust and fingerprints, has a warped frame and will eventually come loose and fall off, or simply just to destroy the AMOLED panel then spending extra money on a whole display assembly? Reapplying the glass leaving no gaps for dust to get in requires adhesive that is machine-cut perfectly for your frame.

    Edit: Even then, you still don't have any LOCA or the necessary facilities to fill that air gap. (Thanks to @KrzychuG !)



    Do you have what it takes?

    Sorry for such a long post. I'm spending my time, efforts and money so you don't have to. I will occasionally add to this thread when I get more screens to experiment with.
    4
    This is a good video on how these screens can be separated and replaced with a perfect bubble-free and dust-free finish:

    2
    I will never, ever separate the glass and the screen. I know that it will break for sure. When I replace phone glass, I replace the entire front screen assembly which includes the glass, screen, and any frame to attach it into the phone. Even if it's just the glass that's broken and the LCD still works, still replace the entire front assembly.
    2
    Replacing S3 glass is quite easy if you got the right tools. That includes a special frame, machine to heat it up and wire that'll fit between glass and AMOLED and cut the glue. Most of the "youtube disassembly/glass replacement" videos are presetned on the phones that were often disassembled before. It's rarely as easy as they show. Cleaning it is even worse. There will always be some scratches left when you try remove the glue leftovers from the display. dust if the case. It's rarely perfect.

    There is still another thing to consider. Using even a "machine-cut advesive" will leave the air between glass and display that you're gonna see if you push it quite hard. Touch will react a bit worse but all in all it's safe. The problem starts when people try to work with LOCA glue here. To do that properly you have to remove LCD from the frame and glue the glass to LCD using LOCA, then use UV lamp. It's glued in, really fragile and easy to crack when you're not caution. If you don't remove the LCD from the frame and use LOCA on top of that you'll end up with broken and cracked frame after a while (days, to few weeks) and often non-working display. That's because LOCA leftovers, that didn't harden using the UV lamp (glue came between the gaps in frame and so on) and it's gonna literally eat the frame and LCD flex.
    1
    Not necessarily. I've worked in the repair industry for a few years now and i've seen many, many people who could care less about the quality of the work if they have to pay more. I've had people walk away from repair because it was going to cost them $15 dollars more to get the device repaired with us, even after showing them that the previous repair was poorly done with their phone missing screws and shieldings or screws in the wrong places. And those are the better of the poorly done repairs i've seen. People like this aren't going to pay for the combo replacement, they'll go wherever it's cheapest, even if the repair quality is low. Of course not everyone is like this, that's why I offer both repairs side by side each time and explain the differences.

    Not trying to come across as snarky, but what are the long lasting effects/consequences?
    Over the last 5-6ish months(ish) that i've been doing LOCA lens replacements i've done close to 100 total and only had one person come back with any issues. And we tell every customer that repairs come with a six month warranty, so they know any issues they have would be of no cost to them.
    Well, you pay for what you get, I suppose.
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