The Nokia G22 is a smartphone that is designed to be easy to repair. Or more specifically, it’s easy to swap out the battery, charging port, and screen. According to the manufacturer Nokia HMD, these three components are the most susceptible to damage or wear through normal use. So, by making it easier to swap out these components, people would theoretically be able to keep their phones for much longer.
It’s still too early to say how this will happen in practice, but it’s still an important step for the phone industry. But to say that the phone can be easily repaired and made sure that it can be done by normal people is another matter entirely. So I got the Nokia G22 and decided to do the repair myself – following the instructions From iFixit repair specialists. (Opens in a new tab)
I’ve never actually repaired a phone before. The closest I got was to disassemble my PS4 to clean the dust off the fan, which was awful at the time. Nobody wants to risk breaking a device that costs a few hundred dollars, even if it’s a fairly simple procedure.
If you have ever paid attention to the subject of phone repair, you will realize that the process can be quite complicated. Notable problems include excessive use of adhesives, waterproof sealants, use of proprietary screws, and issues with third-party parts compatibility, or specialized software that was only available at “certified” repair shops.
The Nokia G22 should have been designed so that none of those things were a problem. In fact, according to HMD, it’s possible to swap out the battery in just 5 minutes and the screen in 20. All with a standard set of phone repair tools. So how hard is that, really?
Nokia G22 is easy to disassemble
I feel it should be obvious that I did not complete my repair in as short a time as HMD claimed. In reality. The whole process took about 45 minutes. That starts with a working phone, disassembles and reassembles everything according to the instructions, and ends with this phone in almost the same condition.
The whole experience wasn’t quite as daunting as I had feared, either. The most awkward part was at first, which involved separating the back plate with what was, essentially, a thick guitar pick.
It took me a few seconds to get the hang of popping the plastic frame apart and actually getting the check around each of the phone’s four corners. But it didn’t take long to get that section done, after which the vast majority of the repair work involved screwdrivers and popping various cables out of their sockets.
Let’s give credit where it’s due. iFixit Repair Manual (Opens in a new tab) It was incredibly helpful that way. The written instructions were good, but the sheer number of photos covering every little step made it incredibly easy (and quick) to figure out what you were supposed to do next. As a longtime builder of Lego sets and Ikea furniture, I’m pretty good at following instructions.
There were a few points where I was moving too quickly, either misinterpreting instructions or jumping a few steps forward. Like the point where I disconnected the wrong end of the antennas, or when I removed a screw too early.
It didn’t make any difference in the grand scheme of things, but that kind of haste might have taken a different path if it wasn’t so easy to break up Group 22.
Even an easy fix has its challenges
One of the things I was particularly concerned about while repairing the Nokia G22 was if I had accidentally damaged some of the smaller components. This is one of the main reasons why I’ve never tried something like this before, even on old hardware that I never use anymore. I don’t want to be too forceful or careless and end up severing a staple pin, severing a connector, or scratching some solder.
I had to try to overcome this fear very quickly. The truth is, a lot of these components need a fair amount of force to disconnect and reconnect. Luckily. The internal components have proven to be more durable than they seem, or maybe they’re not as strangely robust as I thought.
Either way, popping things up and restoring them proved to be one of the easiest tasks, as long as I arranged them all correctly. The antenna connector is small, and it is difficult to return it to its place.
While the adhesive on the Nokia G22 was minimal, the stuff that was used could be a bit problematic. The battery almost felt like it had been glued on, and the tape it was wrapped in was very difficult to pull off—pulling up a lot of swearing in the process. The tape connecting the volume and power buttons was glued to something pretty sturdy as well, which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to remove something very flimsy.
Repairability is great, but it’s not a major selling point
The G22’s easy repairability comes with a few caveats. The phone has an IP52 rating, which isn’t great. A dust resistance rating of 5 means that “limited entry of dust” is permitted, as long as it does not interfere with the operation of the phone. while. A water resistance rating of 2 means you’re protected against “vertically falling water drops with enclosure tilted up to 15 degrees from vertical.” Which basically means they are protected from rain, not much else.
It’s not great, but it’s not surprising. G22 is very cheap, and there is no guarantee that the seals that keep dust and water out won’t be compromised during the repair process. Especially if you are an amateur like me.
The other thing to consider is that it’s a cheap phone at £170 ($208) with cheap phone specs. The screen is limited to 720p, there is only one speaker, there is no 5G and it starts with Android 12 and only two years of Android updates. Of course, some attractive specs are hacked, including a 90Hz refresh rate, 3-day battery life, and a 50MP (f/1.8) main camera. But this will not be enough to satisfy those who are used to premium phones, or even mid-range ones.
The limited Android updates seem particularly short-sighted. also. HMD claimed that the G22 had been in the works for so long that it wasn’t able to launch with Android 13, and the limited number of updates is due to the cost of offering more. Unfortunately, ongoing software support is very important, and improving device longevity is only one part of the equation.
The fact that the G22 is so easy to fix is nice, but that wouldn’t be the reason people would buy the phone. It’s quite the phone for people who don’t want to spend a lot of money, but might want to enjoy a bunch of features that were previously out of their price range.
This isn’t to say that other phone makers shouldn’t make more of an effort to make it easier to repair their phones where possible. We’ve already seen the likes of Apple, Samsung, and Google start offering more self-repair services, but these often come with some caveats. $49 Apple Toolkit Rental (Opens in a new tab)which you are only allowed to have for 7 days, is a very good example of this, as is the cost of the purchase Genuine Apple Parts (Opens in a new tab). the cutting (Opens in a new tab) And tools (Opens in a new tab) Needed to repair the G22 cost a fraction of that.
Nokia G22 will not change the world. Fairphone has yet to manage that, and Nokia is far from being a major player in the smartphone space. But there is hope that this is a sign of things to come, and that the right to reform activism is making headway. I dream of a world where smartphone repair is easy and affordable, but it won’t happen overnight.