What’s There to Lose

Tyler/ March 30, 2022/ Uncategorized/ 0 comments

A few years ago, Trang gave me a Samsung Gear S3 watch. It’s been great, but I’m not a watch person, so I really only use it for exercise. Lately, the battery has been failing. I couldn’t run for more than about 20 minutes before my watch died, losing my stats.

I am put off by the wastefulness of electronic devices. I understand why they do it, but it still drives me a bit nuts that companies don’t engineer them for sustainability. I use refurbished computers and generally drag my feet updating smart devices. Trang usually has to force the issue by gifting a new device, and she came home with a new Gear a few days ago. The left me wondering what to do about my old Gear, which works fine except for the battery life.

I decided to purchase one of the replacement kits with an awareness that I was risking destroying the device. But, now that it had been replaced, it would serve no purpose if I didn’t fix it. I purchased a high rated kit on Amazon made for my model.

The replacement was obviously tricky, and my mistake occurred during the last step of disassembly. The battery is connected to a chassis, which connects to the main circuit board via a kapton ribbon. The battery connects to the chassis by a second kapton ribbon. The battery is also adhered to the circuit board with adhesive. The chassis must be separated from the circuit board while leaving its ribbon – which is soldered directly to the board – intact. The instructions were woefully sparse on these details, and I pulled the chassis ribbon right off the mother board. It connects the side buttons to the circuit board, and the watch will not even turn on without them. I thought the job was botched, but that gave me liberty to take extra risks. Out came the soldering iron!

Circuit board with one fat finger for scale.
A close up of the solder job. Excuse the errant globs, please.

The big disadvantage is that opening the case breaks the waterproof seal. I’m sure it is still quite water resistant, but if waterproofness is more important to you than battery life, skip this repair.

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