Sunday, November 3, 2013

Personal experience: Patching a Galaxy Nexus with (expired) sugru

After several lucky years, I finally dropped my Galaxy Nexus in just the right way to crack a corner of the screen. I did a bit of research and found that one of the things sugru can be used for is to shore up a crack like that. I gave it a try, and I'm pretty happy with the results. The full steps are here; this is my personal experience following this process.

Note: If you follow this hack, be aware that it is not suitable for repairing cracks that intrude into the display or touch-sensitive areas of the screen. The hack guide on points that out also, but I wanted to make it clear here to save you the trip if you've got a bigger crack.

So, some thoughts:

  1. Sugru is great stuff to work with. It's easy to mould, cleans quickly off of hands, and cures to a very nice, smooth-but-grippy surface. Documentation on it warns of possible allergic reactions to uncured sugru; I had no problems.
  2. The package of sugru I used was a free gift from a project last year; it was actually significantly past the expiration date (2012-12-13). I found that it still worked, but subsequent comments should factor that in.
  3. I found the steps of the guide suggesting you "delicately place the sugru into cracks" and "gently guide your finger" to be pretty untenable; the sugru I was working with had the texture of Play-Doh and tended to rub off of the phone or break up with too much handling. As a result, I ended up with a bit of a bulge in the finished product; I find it passable, but my wife doesn't score it to highly for attractiveness and it fires both of our OCD circuits. :) There is a good FAQ on how to get a smooth finish; I didn't try this process myself. I had thought that perhaps kneading it would make it less gummy, but I didn't try that; the same FAQ suggests this would not be desirable.
  4. My biggest concern trying this was that I'd inadvertently cover the front-facing camera. Fortunately, keeping the sugru off of the camera was quite easy, and I've noticed no diminished picture quality.
Sugru's pretty handy stuff. Now that I've gotten a chance to try it, I'm going to add it to my toolbox on future projects.