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How do I get started with device repair?

Hello. I work in a PC repair shop that refuses to work on cell phones, tablets, mac books, etc.

There is no one in my town doing this and I figured I'd learn the skills and do it.

How do I start? Do I buy random broken phones and the required parts online and fix them at a monetary loss? What brand should I start with? What should I do with obsolete phones that I repair for practice?

Is there a better way then purchasing lots of phones on ebay for repair only to discard them? I'm not sure if I'm comftorable buying a broken iphone 14 and trying to fix it with the risk of breaking it, but I don't want a lot of e-waste either. Do I have to bite the bullet?

Thanks in advance for any advice ya'll have to offer.

Peace.

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I wish I could accept all of your answers! Thank ya'll so much! What tool kit would ya'll recommend I get? What is the best brand to start practicing on? Are there any sources outside of ifixit that I should look into?

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@hoosier1990 I would recommend two kits: The iFixit Manta kit (the biggest driver kit they've got), and the ProTech ToolKit. Both are excellent kits and I personally use the Manta kit every single day.

As for where to start; The early iPhones 5-7 (maybe 8) and early Samsungs are very easy to work on. Same goes for the earlier MacBooks (2010-2015/6).

If you're looking for sources for parts, it kinda depends on where in the world you're located. If you're in the US, then you've got it pretty easy. iFixit has a great selection of parts. Just about anything. I have used ReplaceBase and InjuredGadgets (I'm located on the other side of "the pond").

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Hi @hoosier1990, welcome to the Revolution!

I can only repeat what @oldturkey03 and @hellomacos has already said, but I can add a few things also.
Ask around on social media you use, like Facebook or whatever, to reach out and get in touch with other people who like to repair instead of replacing. I live in Norway, and sadly 8 of 10 around here don't repair (not even attempt), they just replace. This is sad, because a large portion of those discard the devices (eco friendly of course, to recycle), but this just gets shipped to God knows where and things that could have been repaired for less than $10 in parts are just recycled.

I am trying my best to get the message out over here, that there are people like me and other that gladly would come to their house to pick up the stuff so they don't have to bother with it, but it's very hard to really get through to people who are dead set in their ways.

The bonus is though, because I am slowly getting the message out, I have pretty steady access to "broken" devices that I can work on and most times the fixed stuff I sell to fund me building up a parts stock. I started by scrounging parts from beyond repair devices to fix those that could be fixed, and now I keep some thing in stock (mostly electronic components and small engine parts).

If your desire is to work on mobile phones and laptops, then I'd say start with the earlier (now soon to be collectors items) devices like fex iPhone 5 and later. I wouldn't go earlier than 5 on the iPhones personally, though I have done it on occasion. I find the 4 and 4S a bit too troublesome. As for laptops, 2010-2014 MacBook Pros are readily available and are surprising workhorses when fixed.
I have a 2018 MacBook Pro with TouchBar that I don't really use and my daily driver is the 2021 MacBook Pro M1 Pro (The Beast).
BUT: I picked up a 2011 MacBook Pro 13" for next to nothing because the owner said it was defective. It wasn't. I upgraded from 2GB memory to 16GB memory and replaced the HDD for an SSD and that is my current development machine that I bring around with me. It is surprisingly fast, even at multitasking and I use it to compile code, with zero problems.

Don't knock old devices, just because new ones are on the market. There is a market for older devices, for sure.

I can't really explain how I learned to do what I do, because I'm >95% self taught. Technology is something I don't have to really study or read, I mostly get it, without knowing why. That's even how I "learned" to write code; I found some code (without ever having seen code before) and just understood it. Go figure...

DO NOT be afraid to ask questions! Seriously, don't be afraid. My profound belief is that there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers. People (particularly those who berate users who ask what could be considered a basic question) forget that they also were new at one time, and needed to learn even the most basic stuff.

The moderators here on iFixit (and the staff) are SUPERB people who genuinely want to help others. If they see users berate or belittle those who ask questions, they are quickly there to take care of it.

Recycling is good; Repairing is GREAT!

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@hoosier1990 part of that depends on what you already know. First thing I would do is to get my basic electronics down and then it is just a matter of learning from there. Best practice is of course to tear stuff down, having the schematics and working things out that way. Like what actually happens in a circuit. So practice, practice, practice and keep learning. Watch others how they troubleshoot and approach an issue. This is not about being able to microsolder a 0201 capacitor, it's about why it is on there and what it does. This is all a mix of academic learning and and hands-on experiences. It really does not matter what you are repairing since the basics do not change. The device maybe but not the electronics. There is no shortage in broken electronics, since most people just throw things out and buy a new stuff. So get whatever you can. Scour auction sites, pawn shops, garage sales whatever you can. No, you may not find an iPhone 14 there but you find all kinds of other treasures to learn from. To properly dispose of your e waste, consult your local colleagues. Check your areas community directory and see if and where the recyclers are located. There is a lot more to it then I can write out on here. I am certain that I am overlooking lots of things, but I am an amateur myself and still go through the daily learning experiences. I still need my schematics, boardviews and service manuals to fix stuff. People like @imicrosoldering @tech_ni @hellomacos @geirandersen @flannelist @dadibrokeit @strongbow and many others are experts in their fields. Follow their approach to repair etc. All of that means to get involved, to ask questions and to be open to learning. It's not going to happen overnight.

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Hi

I learned by doing 2 things

1) finding something that I would like (like a iPod for example )and start working on it for a while

My first hands on repair was a 6th gen iPod touch and it has thought me a lot through hands in repair,soldering and much more

I recommend the iPod touch (5th,6th,7th gen) as they aren’t the easiest thing to work on but not the hardest ether

2)the second way I learned was through buying job lots of fault devices and trying to make a couple good ones out if it

(Bonus tip)

(Ask lots of questions!)

If you want to repair laptops I recommend getting a pre 2013 MacBook Pro as they have a lot of things to learn from

For example

The screens are repaired in a similar way to iPads

They have lots of interchangeable components

They are inexpensive compared to the newer ones when faulty and have a nice resale value

It’s entirely up to you where to start but before you buy anything I recommend look at ifixit guide to see the difficulty of the device first and if it looks to be within your skill bracket

If you have any questions or need helping starting at all please ask

Hopefully this helps

Any questions please ask

Thanks:-)

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Very good information here from a couple of our best contributors, so I'll toss in my $0.02 worth.

You'll want to understand the basics of electric circuits, so taking a beginning basic electric theory course would be useful. You'll learn about resistors, capacitors, Ohm's Law, current, power, resistance, inductance and all sorts of mean, nasty, ugly things. No, actually, that's just a quote from 'Alice's Restaurant'; that stuff is all pretty amazing in how it works and all fits together, but you'll definitely want to learn it in order to know what's going on with the devices you're working on; as @oldturkey03 stated,

This is not about being able to microsolder a 0201 capacitor, it's about why it is on there and what it does.

For instance, you've got a phone that's not charging. With a basic understanding of electricity and circuits, you can use a voltmeter to check to see if you're getting power to the charging port, then follow the circuit to the motherboard and verify it has power and figure out exactly where the fault is rather than just taking a shotgun approach to randomly replacing related parts like the lightning port and hoping that's the problem.

A local community college would be an excellent place to start, but there are a huge number of options open to you for learning. Online academies, self-taught tutorials, books and videos can all help your understanding.

With that knowledge, you'll have a much better grasp not only on what to fix, but also why that fix works. All of the parts are interrelated, so once you get to know one part it helps fill in the overall picture.

Anyway, I'd like to say welcome aboard! One thing about being able to fix things - you'll never run out of things to do! And if you enjoy it and can earn a living at it; well, that's my definition of success, right there!

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Hey there!

My little answer here is follow what literally everyone has said to this point, but never hesitate to do teardowns. If you do not know how to tear it down, I think that is the beauty of it. For example, I repair older retro consoles and I normally research the device by model and then make a little diagram of what each chip is and its function. If a teardown does not exist and you can verify this on ifixit here, I say there is no shame in starting your own, the community is awesome here and if there is a missed word, or grammar issues (along with other doo dads) then they will help contribute to your article to make it even better! This is a fantastic hobby for me and it can be for you also. Another thing of note is to never get discouraged, there is a lot of electronics out there, and boy can some of them get intense to fix (talking to you SNES) but if you have a question, someone I am sure has ran into it on here and would be happy to answer! Happy fixing and welcome to ifixit!

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What you can do is buy earlier phones and fix them, you can then sell them on eBay, at the very least you are not throwing them away, and you might make some money off of it! This is what I did. I’m building up to the later models after I get comfortable enough with repair, confidence that if I open a phone, I won’t break any components. Of course you will break components, cause we all make mistakes at first, but keep practicing!

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