Fixing the digitizer on a Samsung Rogue

Jacob Allred

My touch screen on my wife’s Samsung Rogue U960 recently stopped working. There were no cracks or other visible damage, but it didn’t recognize touches on the left third of the screen. Because the phone was designed to be used almost exclusively by touching the screen, this made the phone pretty much useless for anything other than receiving calls or calling people already in her address book. She couldn’t set alarms, browse the web, or use any of her phone’s other fun features.

Samsung Rogue Digitizer

I decided this would be a fun time to learn how to fix a broken cell phone. With the help of Google and eBay, I discovered that cell phone touch screens have something called a digitizer that lays on top of the normal LCD screen. It is thin, clear, and is what actually “captures” your touches. The LCD screen itself is just a screen. Without the digitizer, touching it will just leave smudges. Turns out my wife’s digitizer was broken.

So I ran to eBay and found a US seller that had replacement digitizers for the Samsung Rogue for only $12.99. The price was right and I enjoy not having to wait for shipping from Hong Kong, so I bought it.

The picture on the right is what arrived. No instructions. No tools. Just the digitizer. Hmm. What to do with it?

I decided step 1 had to be “rip apart my wife’s cell phone while she was in the other room so she couldn’t freak out about said ripping apart of cell phone”. So that is what I did.

It was harder than I thought it would be. The Rogue has a piece of plastic on the back that covers/surrounds the camera. It is easy to get under the edge of it at the bottom, and really really hard to get under the edge of it from the top. What I didn’t know at the time is that it can only be removed from the top, so I’m pretty surprised I didn’t break anything trying to pry it off incorrectly.

The rest of the case came off pretty easy with the help of my trusty New Haven Public Library card. It easily slipped under the case and unlatched it without breaking anything.

Eventually I got the phone fully apart, took off some screws, and had the phone in 5 or 6 pieces sitting on my desk. With some effort, I removed the old digitizer. It was glued in pretty good. I put the new digitizer in place, but it didn’t quite fit right. Upon further inspection, I discovered that the cell phone had a plastic bump that my new digitizer didn’t have a hole for. “Stupid American parts. I should have ordered from Hong Kong,” I grumbled.

So I found a razor blade and started shaving off the plastic bump. It didn’t look like it was actually needed anyway.

This is when my wife walked in. Pro tip: Don’t let your wife walk in until you are done taking a razor blade to her phone!

After a few minutes of carefully removing the plastic bump (very carefully once my wife started watching), I was able to attach the digitizer, connect it to the appropriate daughter board, and screw everything back together. I put the battery in, hit the power button, and…

IT WORKED! Woohoo! I didn’t crack the screen or lose any screws or end up with too many screws or completely break the touch screen capability. I was pretty excited. Becca was, too, because it was like getting a brand new phone for only $12.99.

So before you suffer with a broken cell phone or ditch it for new one, consider searching eBay for replacement parts and fix it yourself.