Friday, November 2, 2018

Motorola is Bad, I'm Bad, and Trying Again Even After You've Messed Up

I fell in love with Motorola when I found the Moto G4 on Amazon.  I want decent tech in my phone, but I also want a decent price and the Moto G4 had that in spades.   I even bought one for my Mom last Christmas as her first smartphone (after configuring a few things to make it easier to use).  But, as every romance story goes, that love would turn into a bitter hatred.

The projector and game controller "mods"
It all started when I bought my Moto Z about 2 years ago.  Best Buy had a good  deal going on satisfying my craving for a low price, and the Moto Z was awesome on its own.  Great specs, plus it had a modular setup, allowing one to attach "mods" to the back of the phone, sleekly providing a new functions.  Some examples of the "mods" were a second battery, a game controller, and a portable projector!
The first few months of owning the phone were spectacular.  Not one issue.  But about 7 months in, I notice a decreased battery capacity.  It should be expected to a certain extent, but not to the point I would need to charge my phone several times a day. 

Then the 9 month point rolled in.  Now I have to leave my phone charging otherwise it will burn through it's battery in 2 hours, or die when it had 30% charge left.

Of course I tried everything. Clearing caches, updating apps and the OS, I even tried resetting it completely, but nothing worked.

Luckily it was still under warranty, so I was blessed with the experience of going through Lenovo's warranty service, which was about what I expected.  After repeating all of the things I originally did, Lenovo accepted that there was an issue with the phone and I ended up sending it in and getting a replacement (this time with only a 3 month warranty).  Shortly after they had a giant sale on the "mods" letting me get the game controller and projector for a fraction of the cost.

Now fully stocked on phone doohickeys I made my way to China for work.  Just like last time, the phone worked like a dream, and the "mods" made it even better.  Sitting I a hotel room I could watch a movie projected onto the ceiling, on the subway I could play games as I went.  But. Then we hit that 5 month point.

The battery started to crap out on me again. Every day the power would last shorter and shorter, causing me to again leave it plugged in during the day.  When I traveled I had to carry a portable battery with me or the phone would only last for an hour and die regularly at 50% power.

Finally I had the brilliant idea to buy the battery "mod" for the Moto Z.  If the phone was being charged all the time surely it wouldn't matter how bad the internal battery is!

It worked for a week or two, but my phone took a nosedive.  All of a sudden the phone starting discharging faster than it could charge! Plus it would now die at
80% power!  Recycling plant here it comes!
The Guts

But I'm not one to abandon tech so quickly.  I like a project and I know before recycling I should try to reduce or reuse.  I search on Taobao for some authentic parts, and a few days later I had a replacement battery and a phone repair kit.
Now it was time for the opening of the phone, which was a nightmare in itself.  Every website I checked said that it was a highly difficult phone to repair.

That's because the screen is glued straight onto the phone, and the only way to open it is to use a heat gun or blow dryer to warm the glue up enough for you to be able to slip a small metal instrument in and cut through the adhesive. 
It took a while, but in a moment I was inside the phone looking at it's guts.  The inside was easy enough to fiddle with, and in a moment (after a little bit of prying) I had the old battery out, and the new battery, then plugged the screen back on, and tested it out wanted to see how the battery was performing.  

Poor dead screen number 2
WEEEEEEELLLLLLLLL.  The battery was performing great, but the screen? Not so much.  Turns out I put was to much pressure on it when removing it, and now I was left with random colors.

Back to Taobao to order another screen, this one on the right.  After testing to make sure it worked I decided I had such a difficult time removing the previous screen, I should secure this one with less glue.  Which again was a poor decision.  That cable on the bottom doesn't fit snug inside the case, instead it pushes back against the screen.  Soon I noticed that while most of the phone stayed glued down, the sides stuck up.  Which means touching the screen would flex it down, and releasing it would let the cable push it back up.  At somepoint in the near future the screen would be wrecked so I decided to remove it and try again.

And I messed it up again...

Somehow I scratched a bad part of the back of the LCD, and it wouldn't light up at all after I removed it.  At this point, giving up was a real option, but after a few days of pondering I decided to give it another go.

Another trip to Taobao and another screen tested let's my jump back into the thick of things, except this time I've learned from my mistakes and glued the screen in place properly.
It was an interesting experience and I learned a lot about how terrible phone repair is.  Even moreso, this made me realize how easy it could be to repair phones,  it didn't need to be like this.  Why not glue the screen to a frame that can be unscrewed by accessing panels in the back?  Why not make the battery more easily accessible?  This phone is less that two years old and far from obsolete, the fact that the battery is terrible is such a waste of resources.  Sadly, it seems most phones are trending away from easy fixes these days, but hopefully we'll have more on the horizon.
Regardless, my phone works, and I'm happy I can use all my doohikies again, but and I can say honestly, in 7 months, when my battery starts dying again, I am going to throw this stupid thing away and never look at a Motorola phone again.  Maybe sell the "mods" on eBay though...