The power button of the LG Nexus 4 (E960) that I purchased 6 months ago is no longer working. I already knew the build quality of Nexus 4 is not excellent when I purchased it, but this is worse than I expected. Since I imported it from the US I cannot get it serviced locally. This article describes how to replace / repair the Nexus 4 power button.
(This article is written for replacing the power button, but replacing the volume button is the same.)
Most of the images here are stolen from www.ifixit.com Nexus 4 Teardown. (Note that iFixit has another user contributed guide for power button replacement, but it replaces the power button plastic part that is not defective and ignores the circuit board part that is defective.) Another image is stolen from a seller.
From the Play Store, there are free and paid apps available that can do screen on and/or off via other buttons, orientation, or even touch screen. Note that some of these apps may consume power continuously.
If you use a custom ROM such as Pure Speed X, you may have a Volume Wake option that can be enabled to allow you to use the volume button to wake up the phone (assuming that button is still working), and / or a screen off function in the quick settings.
Although some of the software workarounds may work well as long as the phone is up and running, imagine not being able to power up the phone after a low-battery shutdown then recharge. This sounds really bad to me, so getting the hardware fixed is crucial.
Note: if your power button problem is that you always need to press twice to wake up the screen, and you can always turn off the screen by a single press, you’re experiencing a problem with a custom kernel instead of a hardware problem described in this article. In that case, try another kernel, use the second lowest frequency instead of the lowest frequency for idle, or increase voltages of the lowest frequencies, and disable any touch-to-wake, slide 2 wake functions.
What’s Needed for Hardware Fix
- T5 Torx screwdriver
- Very small Phillips screwdriver
- Plastic opening / pry tool(s) (or guitar prick) (Note: do NOT use a metal one)
- Nexus 4 power (or volume) button switch / circuit board (Note: NOT the plastic button – do not buy the wrong part. Hereafter “power button” refers to the switch / circuit board, not the plastic button.) If the shipping cost is significant, consider buying two or more buttons for coping with manufacturing variances or future repairs. I bought two.
- SIM tray opener (that came with the Nexus 4 – perhaps try a needle if the opener is lost)
- (Optional) Contact cleaner or alcohol
- (Optional) Tweezers
There are kits that contain the torx screw drivers and the plastic opening tool(s). For example, I have the Pro’s kit SD-9314 that include them (this kit has a new 17-in-1 version that includes the T5, while the old 16-in-1 version does not include the T5). However, I have only used the plastic opening tools from this kit, since I have standalone screwdrivers. (In case you are interested in my reason, it’s because I bought the tools from shops in Ap Liu Street, Hong Kong. I originally thought it would be easy to buy all the tools from there, it turns out the plastic opening tool is really hard to buy. I had to buy the kit in order to get the plastic opening tool. After that I discovered actually I’d be better off buying the plastic tool on-line, but it’s too late.)
I find that it helps (but is not essential) to have different types of plastic opening tools with different levels of hardness.
Costs and Difficulty
If you can obtain warranty service for free or very little money, do it.
For the DIY repair discussed in this article, depending on where you purchased the above items from, buying everything may not be much cheaper than getting it repaired by a shop. However, repairing it by yourself has the advantage of data privacy and being able to do additional repairs in the future for less money. With the original button failed only after 6 months, I’ll not be surprised if I have to repair it again in the future.
The power button typically costs about USD6-10 plus shipping. The costs of the tools can vary greatly. (If you happen to live in China or Hong Kong, you can get the power button from Taobao.com at RMB10-15 plus shipping, with a minimal Nexus 4 opening tool set starting from RMB6.)
Finding out the most sensible way to obtain the required items at reasonable costs is part of the difficulty. The only remaining difficulty is opening up the Nexus 4 using the plastic tool. It is very difficult for me, particularly for the first time. However, I believe anyone can do it as long as one does not give up.
No soldering is required.
Steps to Replace Power Button or Volume Button of Nexus 4
- Make sure the Nexus 4 has enough battery remaining, then shut it down.
- This is really important – remove the SIM tray using the opener first, otherwise it’ll be damaged when you open up the Nexus 4
- Use the T5 Torx screw driver to remove the two torx screws at the bottom of the Nexus. Place the screws in a safe place.
- There are some videos on YouTube that demonstrate how to open up a Nexus 4. Watch one or more of them, then use the plastic opening tool to open up the Nexus 4, starting from the bottom. Beware not to pry in the area near the SIM tray opening – I did and bent the opening, unfortunately.
- Remove the 9 screws on the plastic cover using the Phillips screwdriver. Store the screws in a safe place, then take the cover off.
- On top of the battery there are two screws securing the ribbon cable. Remove these two screws.
- Gently pry off the ribbon cable (although the photo still shows the plastic cover, you should have removed the plastic cover by now)
- Gently pry up the main circuit board a little at the location of the power (or volume) button switch, so that you can remove the button switch circuit board (using tweezers if available). (If you did not perform the previous two steps, and you pry up the main board too much, you risk damaging the ribbon cable.)
- Use a contact cleaner or alcohol to clean the metal contacts of the main circuit board that touches the power (or volume) button, and clean the metal contacts of the replacement button.
- Install the replacement button, so that metal contacts of the button touch the main circuit board.
- Insert the battery ribbon cable back to the main circuit board.
- Before reassembling everything, power on the Nexus 4 using the newly installed power (or volume) button and make sure it works as expected. You may need to hold the main circuit board in place by a finger.
- Shut down the Nexus 4.
- Reassemble everything, then reinsert the SIM tray together with the micro-SIM.
Note: before receiving the replacement button, I tried to add some tape over the faulty button, hoping that may improve its responsiveness. It did not. In fact it made things much worse, and changed the feeling of pressing the button.
If this article helped, please leave a comment.