7 Must-Have Tools for Mobile Phone Repair

If you’re thinking about replacing the battery in your smartphone yourself, or even switching out that shattered screen, there are several tools you should have to make the job a lot easier.

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Undoubtedly, one of the best places to buy replacement parts is iFixit. And after the whole iPhone battery fiasco, their battery replacement kits have become quite popular. While these kits come with all the tools you’ll need to get the job done, unfortunately it’s the bare minimum, and you’d be surprised at how easier the process is with a few additional tools at your disposal.

Suction Cup Pliers

If you have a mobile device like the iPhone, where you have to pry up the display in order to get inside, a pair of suction cup pliers is a great tool to have.

iFixit battery replacement kits come with a small suction cup to help pry open your phone, but it pales in comparison to some suction cup pliers. You just attach one suction cup to the back of the phone and the other to the front, and then simply squeeze on the pliers to separate the display from the rest of the phone.

If you do even only a small handful of mobile repairs, these pliers are a worthy investment and will pay for themselves with the amount of time you’ll save.

Heat Gun or Hair Dryer

Of course, with newer smartphones, you can’t pry open the display without heating up the adhesive first. To do that, it’s great to have a heat gun or a hair dryer.

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The heat softens up the adhesive and makes it easier to separate the display when you pry it open, as well as lessening the chance of something breaking.

You can also use something like a rice bag that you heat up in the microwave. iFixit sells their own version of this specifically made for mobile repair, but you could easily make your own with a sock and some rice.

Magnetic Mat

Taking apart a phone results in a lot of loose screws and small parts that need to be kept organized and—more importantly—prevented from getting lost. This is where a magnetic mat can be a true life saver.

It not only keeps your tiny screws from rolling off the table and getting lost, but most mats have separator lines so that you can organize parts and keep track of everything, as well as use a dry-erase marker to know what’s what.

Guitar Picks

Suction cup pliers are great to have, but if you’re dealing with a stubborn display assembly that’s really glued down, guitar picks can come in handy.

You can use them as a makeshift spudger (the little plastic prying devices), but guitar picks are also handy for acting as spacers to keep places you’ve already pulled apart separated. Say you got the bottom half of the screen to pry up, but not the top half. You can stick some guitar picks in between the body and the screen on the bottom half to keep it pried up not falling back into place as you work on the top half.

As for where you can buy guitar picks, pretty much any music store sells them, but you can also just grab them on Amazon. iFixit also sells their own versions.

Old Credit Cards

Like guitar picks, having an old credit card handy can help when prying up certain parts, but what makes credit cards better in some cases is that you can pry up a larger surface area at once.

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This makes them great for prying out stubborn batteries that are stuck down with adhesive—using a spudger or something similar isn’t ideal for this, since it’d be easy to puncture the battery accidentally.

With an old credit card, you can slide it underneath the entire battery on one side and slowly work it out without fear of puncturing anything.

Magnifying Glass

Smartphone parts are extremely tiny. Unless you have good eyesight, it can be difficult to see what’s what. A magnifying glass can be a really savior.

What I like to do is use the magnifying glass on my “third hand” soldering tool. You can buy these for pretty cheap, and the stand allows you to keep both hands free while you use the magnifying glass to get a closer look at the innards of your phone.

If you wear glasses and want a little more portability, you can try something like this jeweler’s clip-on eye loupe.

Desk Lamp

You might think that you have plenty of light already, but you would be amazed at what a cheap desk lamp can do.

For the longest time, I’ve never taken advantage of additional light when working on projects, but once I started using headlamps and desk lamps, it completely changed my perspective of what adequate lighting meant.

It’s a cheap investment as well. You can get a decent desk lamp for less than $15. Better yet, you probably already have one lying around the house somewhere.

Craig Lloyd writes about smarthome for How-To Geek, and is an aspiring handyman who loves tinkering with anything and everything around the house. He's also a mediocre gamer, aviation geek, baseball fan, motorcyclist, and proud introvert.