How to replace the Moto G display

The display of a Moto G (XT1032) smartphone belonging to a family member got shattered. Instead of throwing out the old phone, I decided to investigate if the display could be replaced. Youtube is full of tutorials on replacing the entire display assembly and it looked easy. So, I decided to replace the display of Moto G.

What I ordered

I found that the entire front display assembly, including the digitizer was available on AliExpress here. I ordered it along with the tools it offered for the repair. The tools included T4 and T5 Torx screwdrivers, two plastic spudges, two picks and a suction cup to hold display. It turns out that you actually only need a T4 Torx screwdriver and a single plastic spudge to replace the Moto G display.

How I replaced

I followed this video carefully to replace the display. In addition to the video, take note of the following points since it affected my replacement:

  • Note that not all the 14 screws have the same length! So, it is best if you note which screw came from which hole, so you can put it back into the same places.
  • Battery did not have a plastic thingy to pull it up on my phone. The battery was firmly stuck using double-sided tape on its bottom. I used a spudge to slowly, but forcefully lift the battery up. The battery is very soft and will get bent, so be careful. I pressed the battery firmly on a table to flatten it back.
  • The display connector just does not come off as easily as shown in the video. Be very careful to first lift the locking tab before you pull out the ribbon. The holding tab is so thin and long that I did not even realize it was there. I broke off some of the black insulation and assumed that I had screwed up the replacement! The Synaptics digitizer chip and its metal-plate base was stuck like glue on my phone. I had to use a sharp and tiny flat screwdriver to forcefully pry it off the phone base. The ribbon will probably break, but it is ok since you will be replacing all of this anyway.
  • The top speaker does not off like shown in the video! Instead turn over your old display and using something push the speaker grill from the front side. My speaker back separated from the front and I could see the copper coils inside! Again, I thought I had screwed up, after putting it back in the new display assembly it worked fine.
  • Since the fit between the old base and the new display assembly is not that great, I found that the screw holes were a bit off. Not all the screws went in vertically, some got angled a bit.
  • The head of the T4 Torx screwdriver provided by the vendor started to wear off halfway through my screwing in! You are better off buying a high quality screwdriver set, which is what I am doing too.
  • My Moto G had been totally dead. So on powering it by USB, the white LED would just blink for 10 minutes. Only after that did it show the zero percent battery and much later I was able to boot up Android.
  • I noticed that the Moto G was becoming uncomfortably hot! Again I thought that maybe I had screwed up the battery or a heatsink was loose somewhere. It turns out that I was using an old USB cable that was causing this. Who would have thought a USB cable can cause overheating. Changing the cable cooled down the phone.

Conclusion

Replacing the Moto G display is not very difficult. I highly recommend getting a proper high-quality screwdriver kit that includes T4 Torx. Please take note of the above points and be very careful with connector ribbon cables. The display I replaced works, but the colors are a bit washed out. Other than that, it seems to work fine and the rest of the phone is also working fine.

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Moto G battery life problem

Problem

This week, I found that the battery life of my Moto G (2nd Gen) was suddenly deteriorating. It used to last 1-2 days before. Now it was running out of juice in a mere 8 hours!

Checking which apps were consuming battery did not help, since the apps shown there and their percentage consumption all looked normal. It was just that the battery was draining too fast.

Solution

Turns out that if you suddenly face a diminished battery life, then it is a software problem. This can be caused by one of these:

  • You updated Android to a new version.
  • Some Google apps updated through Play Store.
  • You disabled some Google apps.

I had indeed disabled some Google apps which I felt unnecessary. These core apps might be necessary for optimum Android performance.

One of the solutions to this problem is to clear the cache of all apps. This did not work for me. The other suggestion is to do a factory reset. This is a huge hassle, but it worked and battery life is back to normal now.

Player FM app for Android

20150320_playerfm

I listen to a few podcasts regularly using a RSS feed reader. Recently, I decided to try the Player FM podcast app on Android to make this more convenient. I must say that it has turned out to be a great little app for podcasts.

  • Discovering my podcasts worked directly, I did not have to bother with any URL or RSS feed. Search for podcast name and add it to Subscriptions.

  • Latest episodes of any subscription are directly downloaded and added to a Downloads playlist by the app.

  • The app can be configured to download only over wifi, if you want that.

  • There might be times when you want to listen to a particular episode from a podcast you do not want to subscribe to. Player FM can handle that too. This can be added to your Downloads playlist too.

  • The playlist will maintain the last 10 episodes from each Subscription. Episodes which you play close to the end or to the end are automatically marked as played.

  • The app can also be configured to be offline all the time. You can make it download only when you want it to.

Tried with: Player FM 2.5.4.3, Android 5.0.2 and Moto G 2nd Gen (XT1068)

OpenCL Info app for Android

OpenCL Info on Qualcomm Adreno GPU of Moto G
OpenCL Info on Qualcomm Adreno GPU of Moto G

These days most of the CPU and GPU used in the SoC of smartphones support some version of OpenCL. In addition, this needs support by the smartphone manufacturer with the right drivers.

The OpenCL Info app can be used to check if the CPU or GPU in your Android device supports OpenCL. It also displays which version of OpenCL is supported and which features of OpenCL are supported.

Tried with: OpenCL Info 1.0.1, Android 4.4.3 and Moto G

USB mass storage on Moto G

The Moto G runs Android KitKat or later versions. USB mass storage (UMS) has been removed from these versions of Android. So, plugging in a USB thumb drive or a hard disk of any kind is not possible.

You could use FTP to transfer files over wireless. Or use the slow MTP or PTP to transfer files by connecting Moto G to a computer.

Tried with: Android 4.4.3 and Moto G

Android app to view EXIF information

I was looking for an Android app to view the EXIF information of photos taken on my Moto G smartphone. I tried the following apps:

Exif Viewer was the best among the lot. The GUI is clean and the information is displayed nicely below a small preview of the photo. The one nagging problem I have with this app is that it displayed shutter speed as a fraction of 10000, which is simply meaningless to me.

Jpeg Exif Viewer, Simple Exif Viewer and EXIF Tag Viewer have ugly black GUI. They do not even display the image whose EXIF tags are being shown. I did not like these apps.

In the end, I did not pick any of these apps. I would have chosen Exif Viewer, if it did not have that Shutter Speed display problem. It turns out that the Motorola Camera app in the Moto G can display the most important EXIF information anyway: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Just open any photo, click once on it to get the top menu, choose Options and then Details to view the EXIF information.

Tried with: Motorola Camera 3.2.54.1, Android 4.4.3 and Moto G

How to set Bing photo as Android wallpaper using Muzei

The Bing search homepage has a beautiful photo that is updated once every day. You can set this photo automatically as the wallpaper of your Android device using the Muzei app.

  1. Install the Muzei Live Wallpaper app. You can see that it can set the wallpaper from many sources.

  2. To add the Bing photo as a source to Muzei, install the Muzei Bing Addon app.

  3. Open Muzei and choose the source as Bing. Its daily photo will be updated automatically as your wallpaper every day.

Tried with: Muzei 1.0.1, Muzei Plugin for Bing 1.3, Android 4.4.3 and Moto G

Google Camera app for Moto G

When I recently updated some apps from the Play Store, I noticed there was a Google Camera app available for the Moto G. It has a colorful icon and seemed to offer a nicer UI than the Motorola Camera app that is default on the Moto G. Other than the UI, the app offers three features: Photo Sphere, Lens Blur and Panorama. Since Moto G does not have a gyro sensor, of the three only the Lens Blur will work on it.

Lens Blur gives you the shallow DoF of a prime lens. It is for objects that lie close by and you need to slowly move the phone in a circular arc over the object. The effect is nice, but I did not find this feature compelling enough to keep the app. Moreover, this app does not seem to have been tested well on Moto G since the exposure setting just did not work!

Tried with: Google Camera 2.2.024, Android 4.4.3 and Moto G

How to share wireless from Android device using Bluetooth tethering

Bluetooth tethering is one of the many ways to share the wireless connection of an Android device with another device. In my case, the Android device was a Moto G which was connected to the home wireless network. The other device was a MacBook Air on which I needed internet access.

The steps I followed to get internet access on the MacBook Air from the Moto G were simple:

  • Connect to the wireless network on your Android device. Ensure that you can access the internet using this connection.

  • Turn on Bluetooth on the Android device.

  • Enable the Android device to be discoverable on Bluetooth. By default, this is not enabled.

  • Open Settings > Wireless and networks > More > Tethering and portable hotspot. Enable the Bluetooth tethering option.

  • On the other device, turn on Bluetooth and pair with the Android device.

  • On the other device choose the class of the Bluetooth pairing as LAN or Network Access Point. For example, on the MacBook Air I chose the Bluetooth logo > XT1032 > Connect to Network.

Bluetooth tethering is useful for devices like MacBook Air, which do not support other tethering methods like USB tethering.

Tried with: Android 4.4.2, Moto G, OS X 10.9.2 and MacBook Air 11-inch Mid 2013