1. SchoolGuy's Avatar
    Hello, this is my first post on Windows Central. However, I have used these forums for research many times in the past and am very thankful for this resource.

    I am having an issue with reception/SIM on my phone after some water damage. I have taken several troubleshooting steps so far and wanted to ask for some advice here before I take my phone apart or order replacement parts. I have experience with replacing parts like the LCD screen and camera module on other phones, but I am not an expert by any means. Also, the phone is not under warranty or insured; my goal is to try and troubleshoot this in-house.

    Phone: Nokia Lumia RM-860

    Problem: No cellular or data

    Probable Cause: Short immersion in water

    Background: When I was camping this weekend I submerged my phone in a creek while assisting my daughter with crossing it. The phone does not have a back cover that is easily removable and at the time I didnt know how to open the case. The phone was still turned on after coming out of the water, but the screen was garbled and glitchy. I could not get the phone to shut off with the regular power-off method. I did a soft reboot and the phone did not turn back on. I wrapped the phone in a cloth and placed it in a relatively warm place until we arrived home. I then placed it in a jar with silica beads for 3 days. After three days I charged the phone for an hour and attempted to start it. The phone turned on and everything seems to work fine, except for the cellular service. Wifi, Bluetooth, NFC, speakers, headphone jack, etc all seem to be in working order.

    Troubleshooting steps taken so far:

    1. Took out SIM card and restarted the phone. Turned off the phone and reinserted SIM and turned it back on
    2. Tried varies methods of manual network selection
    3. Inserted new SIM (I dont know if it's working, it came with a replacement phone but I never activated it).
    4. Tried my old SIM in a different phone (the SIM works in other phones).
    5. Did a hard restart on phone.
    6. After the hard restart, instead of no service. I get a "No SIM inserted" error (with both SIM) cards.

    Current Hypotheses:
    After reading about water damage on several different forums and for several different phone models, it seems like the cause of the problem is probably the SIM card reader or the phone antenna. I have found a replacement SIM card tray online, but have yet to find an antenna. I also have yet to open the phone case, but that is next on my list. There were a couple posts where people mentioned being able to clean the antenna after water damage or get it to work by adjusting the screws. I was wondering if this should be my next step.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
    08-12-2015 06:00 PM
  2. xandros9's Avatar
    One concern I'd be wary about is cascading failures since the phone obviously didn't take nicely to the bath. I'm also concerned about sinking money into a metaphorical game of "whack-a-mole" with components.

    I honestly don't see how a new SIM tray would help, unless its a lot fancier than the one in my 920.

    Cracking the phone open is absolutely the next step, at least for me. I'd try to see if there's obvious damage, but probably not. I'd fiddle with cellular related things, especially since its already toast. Might have fried something on the main board or whatnot too, but water damage is hardly a hard science, no pun intended.
    SchoolGuy likes this.
    08-12-2015 11:18 PM
  3. gordonfink's Avatar
    I would take it apart, and clean it thoroughly with isopropyl alcohol. 99% is preferred - can get it some places, but most sell 75%.

    You can use a q-tip or toothbrush to clean it. You may see some green corrosion starting, but if it has only been a few days, you may not. But, clean the board, and all connectors for coax and snap connectors (for things like the LCD).

    This may or may not work. If you get lucky, it may be that there is a small amount of corrosion causing a short, and cleaning it will remove that, and you will be OK.

    I have resurrected many an iPhone and a few Samsungs from the dead, but I have not yet tried to clean up a waterlogged Nokia. When I mean dead - they were completely non-responsive, and cleaning the board and connectors got them back.

    If that doesn't work, I'm not sure what to tell you next, because I'm not sure if it would be the reader, or something else.

    Edit: obviously, be gentle if you use a toothbrush. Don't knock any components off the board, and only use the softest toothbrush.
    aximtreo, xandros9 and SchoolGuy like this.
    08-13-2015 07:04 AM
  4. SchoolGuy's Avatar
    Thank you very much for the replies.

    I was able to disassemble the phone to the point of removing the engine board from the screen. I gently cleaned any parts that looked corroded with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I attached some pictures at the end of this post. However, I forgot to take pictures of the parts after cleaning.

    There was quite a bit of corrosion on what I think is the "display connector" (based on a Youtube video). There was also a lot of oxidization and discoloration on the part of the board next to the display connector. I am not sure what it is called. The corrosion was on both the screen side and the engine board.

    After turning the phone back on I still get a "no service" icon, but every other part of the phone still works fine. If I take the SIM card out I get a "SIM error" message.

    I was wondering if it was possible my phone somehow got deactivated on the network when I did a hard reset. I called Verizon customer support and told them my phone went dead for a few days while I was on vacation and when I turned it back on I didn't have any service. The lady I spoke with told me that my phone was not activated on the network and to remove the SIM and restart the phone twice then re-insert the SIM and the phone should take me to the "activation screen" where I could re-activate the phone. I was calling via Skype on my phone, so I had to hang up to complete the procedure. After following the instructions my phone didn't act any different or take me to any kind of "activation screen".

    I recently switched from post-paid to pre-paid and the Verizon pre-paid customer support is overseas based. I had a difficult time understanding a lot of what the representative was saying. Maybe I misunderstood the representative's instructions?

    So, I guess my remaining questions are....
    1) Does anyone recognize the part on the driver board that is next to the corroded connector in the pictures?
    2) Is anyone familiar enough with how cellular systems work to hypothesize as to if this could possibly be a network/activation problem and not a hardware malfunction?

    Thanks again for the advice.

    gordonfink and silentFan like this.
    08-20-2015 06:08 PM
  5. xandros9's Avatar
    I really don't see how we're NOT looking at a hardware malfunction here. :/ I'll defer to gordonfink's analysis or someone more qualified than I am though.
    08-20-2015 06:11 PM
  6. SchoolGuy's Avatar
    I really don't see how we're NOT looking at a hardware malfunction here.
    I am on the same page as you, it is probably a hardware error. However, I always like to verify the problem before I take steps to fix it. For all I know, there could have been a problem that cleaning the phone fixed, but when I performed the hard reset took my phone off the network. Also, I am not an electrical engineer by any means, but I know that a lot of motherboard components can be replaced with the right tools (i.e. soldering iron and heat gun). If I can't replace the culprit piece of hardware on the motherboard, I will probably just get a refurbished motherboard.

    If the motherboard is dead anyway, it would be fun to try and replace the faulty component. It's always nice when you learn to fix something new.
    08-20-2015 07:15 PM
  7. gordonfink's Avatar
    Yikes - good thing you got in there. If nothing else, you probably saved your LCD connectors and such, so you can do a MB swap. Weird as it is, the board is less expensive than the screen assembly.

    I really have never looked at a diagram for the 928 board - I just don't do enough with them. Maybe there's something online somewhere showing the board architecture.

    I know, though, that you can buy a 928 with a broken screen pretty cheap, then take the board out and put it in your body.

    I suspect, however, that you shorted out the cellular component, but I could be wrong. If that's the case, you would have to identify that part and replace it. There is, I think, an IC chip that controls it, but I don't know where. I am not good at micro-soldering, so I would get to where you are and swap the board. I can turn screws, but I tend to melt whole segments of motherboards with solder irons.

    The option of last resort (which, really, isn't so bad), after you've backed everything up, is to soak the board overnight, maybe even a day, in the 99%. Then, let it dry out for a day or so before you reassemble it. You can't possibly scrub beneath all of those heat shields, because it looks like they are soldered down. On some phones, the top cover pops off, so you can clean what's underneath. Doesn't look possible on that one. Soaking the board might remove some corrosion under one of those things that you can't get to.

    Sorry I can't help more.

    Thanks for posting the pics though.

    I think folks should take note. Everyone thinks an overnight in rice dries it out, and all is good. They don't realize that their board and components can muck up pretty quickly, and that process continues until the phone dies. Think what your board would look like in 2 months.
    xandros9 and SchoolGuy like this.
    08-20-2015 09:27 PM
  8. SchoolGuy's Avatar
    gordonfink and xandros9, thank you very much for your input and taking the time to respond to my questions with such thorough answers.

    I wanted to conclude that I ordered a new (refurbished) motherboard off ebay ($28.99) and was able to swap it out relatively easily. I too was surprised at how inexpensive motherboards were. I'm glad I took the time to come here and get some input before I dove in headfirst.

    On a side note. Anyone who may read this in the future who is considering taking apart their Lumia 928. When loosening the screw inside of the headphone jack. Be aware that is will not come out of the jack, but it is very important to unscrew it ALL the way until it stops. However, you also should unscrew it very gently, as the head of the screw WILL snap off. I was showing my 8 year old daughter how to open the phone and she accidentally snapped the head off the screw. If she can do it, so can you. If the screw is not all the way loose, the phone will not open easily and the plastic retaining bar on the inside may pop out. Also, very little pressure is required when separating the front from the back. If you do it in the right order it will come apart very easily, if you feel any resistance, stop and reevaluate.
    Last edited by SchoolGuy; 08-27-2015 at 06:40 PM. Reason: typos
    gordonfink and xandros9 like this.
    08-27-2015 06:40 PM
  9. gordonfink's Avatar
    Good info schoolguy, which should help out folks.
    08-27-2015 09:14 PM

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