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So my trusty Samsung Galaxy S3 broke down last week. The power button got stuck pressed down, so the phone would be in an infinite loop of turn off, turn on, turn off, etc. Apparently this is a very common problem with Galaxy S1-5 phones – that power button must only be good for a few hundred thousand cycles.

So I went to Best Buy and got a loaner phone under their excellent “rental policy”… ehm, I mean “return policy”. It was a Galaxy S5: cost $900, but really isn’t any different from the S3 besides an updated OS. Which is sad. I shouldn’t have to pay $300 more to upgrade Android from 4.3 to 4.4, so I decided to repair my old phone.

Following some great YouTube videos, here’s how I did it with just a soldering iron:

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How a normal person sees their phone.

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How a hacker sees their phone.

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Don’t forget this black screw! It is hard to see.

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Take off the speaker assembly.

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Lift off the PCB and turn over to get access to the switch.

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The target has been spotted.

At this point, you want to cover that little bastard switch in flux, then solder on a crapton of solder. Just coat the whole thing in it. This will cover the entire outside of the switch with solder, which you can then heat up evenly, while applying gentle outward pressure until the switch pops off. Better to watch this video:

 

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The culprit, removed. Annoying that this $0.02 piece can take down the entire $600 phone. Now it is a $599.98 phone which works great!

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I soldered some wires to the switch contacts, so now when I want to turn on my phone, I have to cross the wires just like they hotwire cars in MacGyver!

To be safe, I taped down the wires to the case so they don’t touch each other in my pocket. Then I made a Tasker┬átask that locks the screen, and added a Task widget to my home screen so I can just click the icon to lock the phone. To unlock the screen, I just hit the home button.

Yay! $900 saved with 1 hour of work! Even though Samsung kind of sucks for putting a crappy power switch in there to begin with, I’m glad it was relatively easy to unscrew the phone and repair it. It’s almost like they designed the phone to be repaired. Unlike another company I could mention with their fancy sealed cases and irreplaceable batteries…

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