Category: Learn

uBreakiFix Learn: Touch IC Disease

If your smartphone suddenly stops responding to your touch, it could have a hardware malfunction known as Touch IC disease. Once your phone has it, it isn’t easy to fix, but there are a few ways to prevent it from happening. In this installment of uBreakiFix Learn, Mia discusses why this phenomenon occurs and the difficult process that techs have to go through to fix it.

Behind the Scenes Look at Corning’s Gorilla® Glass

uBreakiFix was recently invited to tour Corning’s research and testing facilities in Corning, NY, where Gorilla® Glass is tested and analyzed. Our tour included a behind the scenes look at Corning Testing Labs with some of the engineers responsible for designing the latest and greatest Gorilla® Glass.


Gorilla® Glass is a widely popular choice for modern smartphone and tablet manufacturers, including Samsung, HTC and Apple. In fact, Gorilla® Glass can be found on over 3 billion devices worldwide! So what makes Gorilla Glass such a popular choice, and what sets it apart from other glass on the market? Corning’s answer is simple. The secret to their success lies in what they call “Retained Strength” and “Damage Resistance.” We’ll dive into this subject more in a minute, but it’s interesting to note that Corning’s “Damage Resistance” combined with a  chemical tempering process creates a surprisingly strong and resilient product.  After our facilities tour, we put Gorilla® Glass to the test to verify Corning’s claims. Check out the video below to see what we discovered.


So what is Chemical Tempering and Damage Resistance? 

Corning set out to make the electronics industry’s strongest cover glass, and the process starts with something called “ion exchange,” a method of chemically tempering the glass. When the glass on your smartphone shatters, it is the result of tension forces, not compression. So in the tempering process, the glass is essentially “pre-stressed” in compression. This is done by exchanging sodium ions with larger potassium ions. This means any tensile stress on the glass must first over come preexisting compression forces. The result is glass that can take much higher forces before failing.

Gorilla® Glass Ion Exchange Process
Gorilla® Glass Ion Exchange Process


But the real competitive advantage for Gorilla® Glass is its “Retained Strength.” Corning Engineers reiterated the need for “retained strength” or “damage resistance” many times on our site tour. To understand this principle, we need to understand the science behind broken glass. Glass is only as strong as its weakest imperfection. Scratches, indentations, chips and any other flaws in the glass can significantly weaken the glass, especially as these flaws compile over time. Think of it this way: traditional window glass, or soda lime glass, can withstand a certain amount of bending stress before breaking, and as long as there are no flaws in the glass, this stress can be significant. However, introduce a flaw by scratching the surface of this glass, like we did in the video above, and it will significantly reduce the the stress required to break the glass. The stress required to break a flawed sample can be many times less than the original strength, depending on the flaw. In fact, the easiest way to “cut” glass during manufacturing is to “score” or scratch the glass and then apply a bending force.




Due to Corning’s proprietary manufacturing process, flaws and scratches experienced during everyday use are not nearly as debilitating to Gorilla® Glass as they are to more traditional glass. This superior “Retained Strength”  is what Corning calls “Damage Resistance.” Our independent testing revealed an 83% strength reduction in scratched traditional glass compared to flawless traditional glass. The same test performed on Gorilla® Glass resulted in only a 17% strength reduction. That’s pretty impressive given the surface flaws we were dealing with. Check out the video above to see more.


How Corning Tests Gorilla Glass

See the various strength and durability tests we saw first hand in Corning’s tests labs.


Corning’s testing and research labs are home to dozens of tests designed to demonstrate the strength and durability of Gorilla® Glass.


Tests Performed in Corning's Strength Lab
Tests Performed in Corning’s Strength Lab


Four Point Bend Test- Designed to test edge strength, the 4-point bend test loads the sample along two parallel top inner rollers, while supporting the sample along two parallel outer rollers. We are always amazed by how much glass can bend.


4-Point Bend Test
4-Point Bend Test


Indention and Scratch Test– These tests are designed to demonstrate damage resistance. Using a diamond indenting tool or “scratch head,” samples are indented or scratched using increasing pressure. The entire process is viewed by a microscope at 20x magnification or more.  Here the difference between Gorilla® Glass and tradition soda lime glass is clear. While Gorilla® Glass sustained the scratch or indention with out much collateral damage, the traditional glass sample showed dozens of micro fractures exploding around the scratch or indention site.


Indention Test- Test sample shown is traditional soda-lime glass
Indention Test- Test sample shown is traditional soda-lime glass


Device Drop Test– This test is designed to test real world drop scenarios. Devices or sample “pucks” with cover glass are dropped in a variety of orientations on a variety of surfaces. The tests are filmed at high speed to allow engineers to analyze damage scenarios.


Device Drop Test- The sample shown is a test "puck" with curved  surface Gorilla® Glass adhered to the bottom surface
Device Drop Test- The Sample shown is a test “puck” with curved surface gorilla glass adhered to the bottom surface


Ball Drop Test– This test applies surface stress that glass may experience during impact. This is done by dropping a steel ball from various heights onto glass samples.


Ball Drop Test- The sample shown is Gorilla Glass, and it withstood a drop from this height with no visible damage
Ball Drop Test- The sample shown is Gorilla® Glass, and it withstood a drop from this height with no visible damage.

Corning’s Fractology Lab

In addition to the testing labs, Corning gave us a behind the scenes tour of their fractology lab. This is where Corning Engineers reverse engineer broken samples to find crack origin, surface or failure patterns, crack propagation direction and much more. Corning uses this information to better engineer future products.


Cross section of a cracked sample showing the crack origin
Cross section of a cracked sample showing the crack origin


Cross section of a cracked sample showing crack propagation from the origin


The Future For Corning

Corning believes the future of the cover material for electronic devices is glass. They don’t see any material on the horizon that can compete with the versatility and usefulness of glass. Our visit to Corning included a conversation on the material properties of Sapphire, and its demonstrated lack of retained strength.


Cracked sapphire cover material sample
Cracked Sapphire Cover Material Sample


Corning is currently developing more iterations of stronger and more reliable Gorilla® Glass. Additionally, they are experimenting with shaped and curved glass as well as new forms of functional coatings for cover glass.


Curved Gorilla Glass
Curved Gorilla Glass


A huge thanks to the entire team at Corning for the inside look at the labs.


As always, stay tuned for more uBreakiFix Learn!

Science of a Broken Screen

Have you ever wondered just what makes your phone’s glass crack, shatter and break? Maybe you have noticed that all cracks, drops and broken screens are not created equal. In this video, uBreakiFix Learn will delve into the  of what gets your screens cracking!

Chances are, if you don’t have a broken screen, then you know (or have known) someone with this issue. Mixed in with these horrifying tales of shattered screens and distorted displays are the tales of phones dropped, yet not broken. So, what gives? Things such as drop height, drop surface, and the angle of impact are all determining factors in whether or not the screen on your phone will break.

Ready to get a lesson in “drop science”?



iPhone 6 Plus Scientific Bend Test


Some are calling it “Bendgate”- the iPhone 6 has come under scrutiny for its lack of “flexural strength”- and uBreakiFix is here to put Apple’s newest phone to the test. Let’s see if skinny jeans and sitting down can really compromise your new phone.

Is the iPhone 6 More Prone to Damage than Predecessors?

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We put the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus to the test.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Full Story

ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 19, 2014– uBreakiFix, an international consumer electronics repair company with 88 operating locations and counting, breaks the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus on the day of release. The company set out to determine how durable Apple’s latest iPhones are using a series of tests including a steel ball drop test. Based on these tests, the company predicts that the iPhone 6 may be slightly less durable than predecessors.


Apple announced the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus on September 9th with a release date of September 19th. Both new phones include what Apple calls “ion-strengthened glass” on the front touch surface. Ion strengthening is a process Corning utilizes on its widely popular Gorilla Glass. Whether the glass on Apple’s latest iPhone is stronger than previous iterations has been the source of much debate since the Apple announcement earlier this month. uBreakiFix set out to determine how the glass on the latest iPhone models compares to predecessors and the competition. A steel ball drop test was used to determine impact resistance. In this test, the phone was placed on the ground, face up, while a steel ball was dropped on the display. After establishing a baseline with the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and Samsung Galaxy S4, uBreakiFix tested the iPhone 6. The entire test was captured with a highly sophisticated high-speed camera capable of over 16,000 frames per second. The resulting video provides a stunning look at the shattering of an iPhone 6.


The results were surprising, the iPhone 6 broke at a drop height of 3ft while the iPhone 4 and 5 withstood drop heights well over 4 ft, and the Galaxy S4 withstood a drop height of 4 ft.


“One notable display feature on the iPhone 6 is the rounded edges. This creates a glass surface that protrudes out from the phone chassis, meaning a face down drop impacts glass first. This fact combined with the result of our steel ball drop test lead us to believe that the iPhone 6 may be more prone to damage than prior Apple devices.”Said David Reiff, the company’s Co-Founder and Vice President.”Though we are impressed by the style of the iPhone 6, we would recommend a protective case with a front facing lip to protect the glass on the phone,” continued Reiff.


uBreakiFix has promised more videos of high speed destruction in the coming days, all in the name of science of course. To read more, check out the[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Sapphire Screen Drop Test- The Kyocera Brigadier

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_video link=”“][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1”][vc_column_text]The Kyocera Brigadier was released last week! Okay, unless you’re an outdoor enthusiasts, or adventure junky, you probably haven’t heard of it. So, why should you care? Good question!
The Brigadier is packed full of features to make it dust proof, water proof, and drop proof. One of it’s more notable features is a Sapphire display. With the tech bloggosphere erupting with iPhone 6 sapphire screen speculation, the Brigadier is a good way to get a hands on look at sapphire, on a production smartphone. Since we fix it, of course, we had to break it.
Sapphire is incredibly hard, it’s second only to diamond on the hardness spectrum. Using sapphire in a screen means incredible scratch resistance. But, sapphire is also pretty stiff, about 5 times stiffer than glass. This usually implies brittleness. So, how does is sapphire display fair in actual impact tests? We drop tested it to find out.
One stand-out feature of the Brigadier is a raised bezel that surrounds the display. This means that a face down impact , which in our experience is most likely to shatter a screen, won’t contact the glass directly. This feature alone significantly improves the phones impact durability.
Our tests started with a 3ft face down drop. Then climbed to 4.5ft, 6ft, and finally 8ft. As expected, the phone fared well. Other than a beat up bezel, the sapphire display remained completely intact.
This had us wondering, is the durability due to the sapphire material, or other factors, like the raised bezel? To find out, we removed the display from the phone and dropped that face down on its own. The results may surprise you. The sapphire display cracked on the first drop attempt, from a height of just 3 feet.
We suspect that though sapphire is a great material for scratch resistance, it is not the indestructible super-material that is has been proclaimed to be. Though Kyocera has built an impressively tough phone, we believe the elevated bezel and other factors do more to increase its impact durability than its sapphire screen.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

How a Lithium Ion Battery Works

Lithium ion batteries were conceptualized back in the 1970s by chemists who were hard at work to find a rechargeable chemistry that was more powerful and more environmentally friendly than the era’s nickel cadmium and lead-acid mainstays.

But unlike other outcrops from the late 1960s and 1970s, lithium ion batteries weren’t introduced until the early 1990s and weren’t popularly used until the 2000s. Nowadays, they’re found in anything from alarm clocks to smart phones and electric cars. The reason is simple, they pack the most punch. For every kilogram (or pound) of battery weight, you get a lot more energy than other batteries’ chemical compounds, as shown in the graph (below).


So if lithium can store so much more than its predecessor, why aren’t batteries getting a lot smaller? Well, they are shrinking, but they are fighting an uphill battle as phones require more and more power for advanced processors, features, and larger, brighter displays (see Battery Drains below).

For everyone who dozed through their high school chemistry, lithium ion batteries are first and foremost, well, batteries. Which means they share several aspects with all other batteries. The heart of the 100 Amp hour battery is the positively charged ion of lithium (the lithium ion) that moves around and creates the current. But first, lets discuss voltage and current.What is voltage and current? If you know this, skip to the next section, if not read on and you will probably know more than the “smart” guy who just skipped this section.

What is voltage and current? If you know this, skip to the next section, if not read on and you will probably know more than the “smart” guy who just skipped this section.

Voltage is the electrical driving force, or potential between two points. Voltage is simply the potential of electricity to flow, while current is the actual flow of electricity. Think of a bird standing on a 10,000 V power line. The bird  is completely fine, but only because each foot is at the same voltage (there is no pressure difference to cause current to flow). If the bird keeps one foot on the wire and steps onto a nearby tree branch at zero volts, fireworks begin as current flies through the bird. In this case, the current does the damage (or work), but the voltage difference causes the current to flow.  In a battery, the voltage is created by the atomic charge from the chemicals in the battery. Different batteries (and their respective chemical compounds) have different voltage. Li-on produces 3.7V per cell, alkaline cells composed of zinc and carbon generate 1.5V, where Ni-Cad and NiMH produce 1.2V per cell. Voltage, is measured in volts, named for the Italian Physicist Alessandro Volta who was credited with inventing the battery.

Current (or amps) describes the flow of electricity and is caused by electrons flowing from one point to another. Without a voltage difference, there will be no current flow. There also has to be a connection to carry the current.  In the bird example above, the tree and power wire are happy to coexist at different voltages when they are not connected. But when the branch touches the wire, or you turn on your phone, current will flow. Current does the work, but voltage causes current to flow. Current is measured in amps, short for ampere from André-Marie Ampère, a French physicist and mathematician.

Fortunately, volts and amps are standard nomenclature throughout the world. A volt is a volt in Germany, China, Swaziland, and Kentucky. Of course, they come in millivolts (mV) and kilovolts (kV), as do amps, but that is common too. A battery capacity is measured in milliamp hours (mAh) and is the number of milliamps that a battery can supply for one hour (at its rated voltage).[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_toggle title=”Did you know?” open=”true”]By convention, we define current as flowing from positive to negative (or less positive) voltage. But it is really negatively charged electrons that are moving, they flow from negative to positive (opposites attract). So why do we show current flowing toward the negative terminal? Well, it’s convenient, and we can because we are bigger than the electrons! Now, lets talk about how the battery works: The main functional parts of the Li-ion battery are shown (right).

The Anode: The positive half of the whole, the anode is any conductive material that stores the positive charge. Lithium ions are driven to the anode during charging. Currently, the anode is composed of lithium cobalt oxide (or LiCo02 to impress your friends). Why do we care? Because this material may be changing in future Li-ion batteries to improve capacity (see What is coming next).

The Cathode: The negative half, cathodes are any conductive material that collect positive ions during discharge to complete the circuit. The cathode is commonly composed of graphite (or carbon).

The Electrolyte: Not a mere marketing gimmick of Gatorade, the electrolyte is an organic solvent that submerges the anodes and cathodes, but allows the ions to move from one to the other.

The Separator: This is a porous plastic sheet that keeps the anode and cathode from touching and shorting, but allows ions to pass.

We will go into a bit of a deep dive here because charging significantly influences the capacity (run time) of the battery and the life (how many times you can charge the battery before it croaks).

Charging essentially occurs in two stages. Each stage lasts about one hour, so total charging takes about two hours. The stages are illustrated in the graph below which shows the relationship between charge current, voltage and resulting battery capacity (charge). While it is a complicated process, your phone controls the voltage and current so your battery is protected and not overcharged.

Li-ion batteries can be charged hundreds of times, but they last longest when they are not deeply discharged. Ideally, the battery should be operated between 40 and 80 percent charge. Leaving your phone plugged in overnight, while not a best practice, is better than letting the battery deeply discharge. The phone has protection circuitry to prevent the battery from discharging completely. However, if it does discharge because of a short (water intrusion, damage etc), the last ions through the separator blow up the tunnel because they don’t come back; the battery is toes up (dead) and must be replaced.

Stage 1:  The first stage is a constant current, increasing voltage process where the bulk of the charging takes place. The initial charge rate of a typical Li-ion battery is between 0.5 and 1C, where C is the battery capacity in mAh. So with a typical 1100 mAh phone battery, you are talking about up to 1.1 amps, which is more current than some chargers can produce (see section on chargers below). While most of the charging is done in the first hour (longer if your charger can’t supply the amperage), it is only about 70% of the capacity. It is interesting to note that even though you are dumping a lot of energy into the battery during charging, it remains cool (the battery guts that is). The phone may heat up because some circuitry is working during the charge cycle, but it is not coming from the battery itself. If the battery is getting hot, you have charging problems and may have a grenade.

Stage 2:  The second stage is a constant voltage decreasing current phase and takes the battery to full charge. It is interesting that you cannot fool nature here by increasing the charge current. Doing so does not hasten the full-charge state by much. Although the battery reaches the voltage peak quicker with a fast charge, the saturation charge will take longer accordingly. The amount of charge current applied simply alters the time required for each stage; Stage 1 will be shorter but the saturation Stage 2 will take longer. A high current charge will, however, quickly fill the battery to about 70 percent. It is not harmful to pull the charger before reaching full charge, in fact, it may be beneficial to the battery, though not your talk time.

There is no third stage, other than you unplugging the phone and texting your friends. Lithium ion batteries cannot be trickle charged like Ni Cad or Lead Acid batteries. If left in the charger for long periods, the charger will turn back on periodically to top off the battery.As mentioned earlier, all chargers are not created equal. While all USB chargers supply 5 volts, they differ in the amount of current, or amps they produce. Computer USB ports typically supply 0.5A (one half amp), which is sufficient to slow charge a phone, or power a tablet (but not charge it). To rapid charge a phone can require 1A and up to 2A for a tablet. If your charger cannot supply the maximum current, charging can take longer. So, if your phone is dead, and you only have a little time to charge it, find a wall charger, rather than your computer USB for the biggest bang for your charging minutes.

As mentioned earlier, all chargers are not created equal. While all USB chargers supply 5 volts, they differ in the amount of current, or amps they produce. Computer USB ports typically supply 0.5A (one half amp), which is sufficient to slow charge a phone, or power a tablet (but not charge it). To rapid charge a phone can require 1A and up to 2A for a tablet. If your charger cannot supply the maximum current, charging can take longer. So, if your phone is dead, and you only have a little time to charge it, find a wall charger, rather than your computer USB for the biggest bang for your charging minutes.

Multi-port charger are one of the greatest achievement of the 21st century to deal with the one-outlet provision of hotels designed in the 20th century. But beware, not all ports put out the same current. If it is a good charger, it will tell you the output power. For example 5V1A means that port can put out 1 amp and can rapid charge your phone. 5V2A means it could rapid charge your phone or tablets. Don’t worry, you will not overdrive your phone with a high current port, the phone regulates the current. Some multi-port chargers share the current between ports. So one device may get 2 amps, but plug in more and the current is divided… not good for rapidly charging all parties.

Li-ion batteries don’t like heat. Their self discharge rate increases with temperature as shown below.  In fact, Li-ion batteries age even when not being used.  But they age at a much faster rate when it’s hot, so avoid leaving your phone in a hot car all the time. It is also important when replacing a battery to make sure you are getting fresh cells. A new cell pack sitting in a hot warehouse for a couple of years could have lost half of its capacity.

Lithium-ion operates safely within the designated operating voltages; however, the battery becomes unstable if inadvertently charged to a higher than specified voltage. Li-ion is especially exciting because the electrolyte is flammable (that’s why the airlines and postal service like them so much… not!). When overcharged, they can explode or burn, or both.

When trying to maximize battery life, it is important to know what feature consumes the most current. While it is not possible to avoid all these suckers (and still have a working phone), it is good to know what are the things that take the most juice from your battery.  Below is a list in approximate order of battery drainers:

  1.  Display backlight – minimize display brightness
  2.  GPS – turn off when not using
  3. Bluetooth – turn off when not using
  4. Wi-Fi – turn off when out of range, but turn on when in a hot spot (it reduces transmitter power draw)
  5. Out of cell range – consider turning off phone when you know you are out of coverage
  6. Skype
  7. Talking – give your friends a rest and send ’em a text instead
  8. Push Notifications and Data-Fetching
  9. Speaker phone
  10. Mobile data (Android)
  11. Apps (especially free, ad-powered)
  12. Music player – just hum to yourself


Lithium ion technology might be over its infancy, but it’s still wobbling around. Batteries with a cathode of vanadium phosphate appeared in 2013  and offer more voltage and longevity than those using cobalt oxide.

Iron phosphate has also been proven a far more stable, less dense, and more conductive cathode than lithium cobalt oxide, particularly when “doped” with impurities of elements like aluminum, niobium, and zirconium.

Said research means more power, less space, and better longevity. From the local dump to the Nigerian coast, that means less technological waste hazards. More importantly, it also means more capable phones.

Quantum processors are expected to require significant charge, as are other innovations like holograms, smart apparel, and bio-manufacturing plants.  More power means more processing, and the more condensed, the more portable.

In the meantime, a basic knowledge of lithium ion technology can help us make good choices. An old battery may be less of a steal than you think, so be smart when browsing your local parts store, flee market, or black market-esque van.

How a SmartPhone LCD Works

Today’s smartphones allow you to install, configure and run a wealth of applications, from business tools to entertainment. The growing number of users who rely on their mobile devices to watch videos, play high-graphic games or browse rich web content, has sharpened the focus on smartphone screen technologies and heightened competition among the industry’s major players. That sharper focus on screen resolution and color saturation is also why screen technologies have become a major selling point, as each new generation of smartphones hits the market. Today’s smartphone touch screens exhibit a brightness, clarity and durability that is far advanced beyond those of only a few years ago. The two mainstream technologies in use for smartphone displays today are Liquid Crystal Display or LCD, and active-matrix organic light-emitting diode, known as AMOLED. While the latter is considered the newest smartphone technology, LCD has typically offered higher resolution and even greater availability for screen sizes appropriate for smartphone use.

Although today’s amazing smartphones may have you thinking otherwise, LCD technology is nothing new. It can actually be traced all the way back to the late 1800s when an Austrian botanist first discovered liquid crystals. But it wasn’t until the early 1970s that the first consumer products started utilizing LCD technologies’on items such as watches and calculators’ and those items appeared on store shelves.

From these early advancements, LCD technology quickly grew, addressing such sought-after features as more colors, greater brightness, multiple viewing angles, and more efficient power use. Today’s LCDs are considered a very mature technology.

The appeal of LCDs, which primarily lies in their advantages in size and power drain, over other display technologies like cathode ray tubes (CRT), is evident with the growing number of consumer products that make use of the technologyeverything from microwaves to digital clocks to laptop computers, as well as smartphones.

LCD technology is made possible by manipulating and blocking light and three major properties are involved, twisted nematics, polarization and the properties of liquid crystals. Light, whether from the sun or an artificial source, vibrates and radiates outward in all directions. That is to say that light waves oscillate, or vibrate, with more than one orientation, or on more than one plane. When the light waves oscillate on only one 2 dimensional plane, the light is considered linearly polarized. Polarizing filters, or polarizers, work by only allowing light to pass through that differs in orientation from the filter. A polarizing filter will block all light waves except for light waves oscillating on a specific plane. The resulting light is linearly polarized and only oscillates on one plane. This is critical to the functionality of an LCD screen, as an LCD works by blocking light.

An LCD is created with the use of two pieces of polarized glass. The second polarizer is placed perpendicular to the first. Orienting two polarizer 90-degrees from one another will block all light waves. The first layer creates polarized light on one plane and the second polarizer passes only lights waves oscillated perpendicular to the first plane, which blocks the polarized light passed by the first filter. Try this yourself by holding up two pairs or polarized sunglasses one after the other and twisted 90-degrees from one another. Looking through both lenses you will see only a black screen. Then, slowly rotate the second pair of sunglasses until the two pairs are parallel to one other. More and more light will be allowed through the lenses until you are able to see through both lenses normally. This is caused by polarized light.

So how does any light pass these two polarized layers and form the image we see on an LCD? The secret can be found in liquid crystals.

To allow light to pass through the two perpendicular polarizer, a layer of liquid crystals is sandwiched in-between.

To understand liquid crystals, it can be helpful to think back to science class, when you first learned about the three common states of matter: solid, liquid and gas. Solids maintain their physical traits because the molecules maintain their orientation and position with respect to one another. In liquids, however, molecules are constantly moving.

However, some substances like liquid crystals actually exist in a state that has features of both a liquid and a solid, though LCs lean closer toward a liquid. While these molecules tend to maintain their orientation, like a solid, they also move around to different positions, which makes them more like a liquid.

This ability to act as both these states of matter makes it difficult to classify such molecules as either, and so a new classification – liquid crystal – came into use. The sensitivity of liquid crystals to temperature also makes LCD a commonly used technology for devices like thermometers, and explains why cold or hot weather can have an impact on LCDs accessed outdoors.

How does this relate to polarized light?

Liquid crystals can exist in a number of forms and phases, depending on factors like temperature and the nature of the substance itself, but it is the nematic phase that makes widespread use of LCDs in electronics possible. One type of nematic liquid crystal in particular, known as twisted nematics (TN), are used in LCDs. Twisted nematic liquid crystals naturally exist in a helical or twisted structure. As light waves pass through the helical liquid crystal, they twist in a way that allows them to pass through the second polarizer. In other words, the light waves are rotated until they are oscillating on the one plane that the second polarizer allows to pass.

Liquid crystals are also affected by electric current, a principle that is critical to their use in LCD’s. As a current is applied to a twisted nematic liquid crystals, it untwist, which means the passing light waves are not rotated and are subsuquently blocked by the second polarizer. The reaction of a twisted nematic liquid crystal to an electric current can be predicted and varied, allowing light passage to be controlled by applying various amount of current. 

To apply the electrical current required to manipulate liquid crystals, LCD manufactures use a thin grid of transparent transistors.  Each transistor represents a single area in which an electric current can be applied to produce a unique shade, and is referred to as a “sub-pixel”. Each sub pixel is then filtered through one of the three primary colors, red, green, or blue. By manipulating and varying the electric voltage applied, each sub-pixel’s intensity can range over 256 shades. The combination of three sub-pixels, creates one pixel.

When sub-pixels are combined, it is possible to produce 16.8 million colors (256 x 256 x 256) since the eye only sees blended colors as a result of the three independent sub-pixels.

First, a backlight assembly creates an even light source that passes through the first glass polarizer, while at the same time, electric current allows the liquid crystal molecules to align in a way that allows differing levels of light to pass through the second piece of polarized glass. This manipulation of the light allowed to pass through the second piece of glass is what creates the images you then see on your smartphone or other electronic device.

The slimmer design of LCDs compared to the CRT technology they have replaced in many electronics has helped this technology to quickly grow in popularity. LCDs also consume less energy and offer much greater resolution – the number of individual dots of color or pixels found in a display – than screens utilizing the older CRT technology.

Consumers have also reported that LCDs cause less eyestrain. This is because the displays do not flicker the way older technology screens did. They also allow for greater ease of adjustment, since their thinness enables them to be held, tilted or swiveled to a comfortable viewing position.

First Look: LG G3 Teardown

Month after month of speculation and rumors have finally led us here, and uBreakiFix has the sincere pleasure to provide you with the first LG G3 Teardown! Take a look inside LG’s new flagship powerhouse, the G3.

For this teardown, we will be using the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8) for comparison.

First, let’s review the specs: 

  1. 5.5” True HD-IPS LCD (1440 x 2560, ~534 ppi)
  2.  13 MP rear camera with 2160p@30fps video; 2.1 MP front camera with 1080p@30fps video
  3. Highly touted 1W loudspeaker with boost amp
  4. 2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor
  5. 2 GB (16 GB model) or 3 GB (32 GB model) LPDDR3 RAM
  6. LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac dual-band
  7. MicroUSB 2.0 (SlimPort)
  8. Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery

Now that we know what we should see under the hood, let’s get down to business.


Starting on the outside front of the phone we see the 5.5” LCD, ear speaker, front camera, and infrared and proximity sensors. On the back is the highly-advertised 1W loudspeaker, rear camera and dual-LED flash, and power/volume buttons. Along the bottom a MicroUSB 2.0 SlimPort, and 3.5mm stereo jack.

Alright, enough gawking, time to see what makes LG‘s new G3 flagship tick.


We begin with the ubiquitous battery cover. Once removed we see the Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery, larger than the Galaxy S5 at 2800 mAh or the HTC One (M8) at 2600 mAh, the lowest capacity of the three (surprisingly low for not being user-removable). Built into the battery cover is the wireless charging interface. Even with the extra mAh we wouldn’t be surprised if users didn’t see the benefits as the new and improved Quad HD screen likely draws extra power.


Next we remove the lower back housing which contains the loudspeaker assembly.


After that, the upper back housing is removed exposing the contacts for the power/volume button flex as well as the phase detection/laser autofocus module.


Once the button cover is removed from this housing piece we can see this flex assembly.


Finally we get to see the motherboard. One of the first differences we notice is that there is only one small daughterboard, unlike the G2 which had another controller board split along both sides of the motherboard.


A few flex connectors later and we are able to remove the motherboard, the only other board in the phone located at the bottom is most-likely for grounding.


Directly above that board are the flex connectors for the LCD and digitizer which is assisted by a Synaptics 93528A touchscreen controller. This absolutely stunning LCD has been advertised as a Quad HD display and sports a staggering 534 ppi pixel density which blows away the S5 at 432 ppi and the One (M8) at 441 ppi.


We can also see the 13 MP rear camera (4160 x 3120 pixels), which has been one of the major selling points for the G3 and with 2160p video resolution at 30fps, it’s no wonder why. Looking at the competition we see the S5 with very similar resolution at 16 MP (5312 x 2988 pixels) and 2160p@30fps video, and the One (M8) with dual 4 MP (2688х1520 pixels) with 1080p@60fps video.

Also visible is the front camera is 2.1 MP, slightly better than the 2 MP in the S5 but drastically less than the One (M8) which brings a 5 MP front camera to the table.


Lastly, adhered directly to the back housing are the 3.5mm headphone jack and the ear speaker.


What’s that odd looking component on the right? Well this is what we call an antenna, they were used on cell phones many years ago for better reception. This one however is for TV tuning although it is not likely the US version of the G3 will include a TV tuner antenna.

Once we remove the metal shields from the motherboard we are able to see many more chips, some of which we have already identified.


On the top side of the motherboard we see:

  1. (Orange) Toshiba THGBMBG8D4KBAIR 32 GB on-board NAND flash memory


On the bottom side of the motherboard we see:

  1. (Purple) Broadcom BCM4339 5G WiFi combo chip
  2. (Teal) Avago ACPM-7700 power amplifier module
  3. (Red) Qualcomm WTR1625L RF transceiver
  4. (Green) Qualcomm WFR1620 receive-only companion chip
  5. (Orange) SK Hynix 2GB/3GB LPDDR3 RAM layered on the 2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor.
  6. (Yellow) ANX7812 USB SlimPort Tx IC
  7. (Blue) Texas Instruments BQ24296 battery charge management and system power path management chip.

Overall, initial impressions are that this is a beautifully engineered phone. The use of several contact-style connectors instead of flexes will certainly reduce repair time and the location of the LCD/digitizer connectors give the G3 a much higher repairability factor than its predecessor; on a scale of 1 to 10, the LG G3 scores a respectable 8/10.