RINGING THE CHANGES
Fed up with your phone? Is the case is
scratched or cracked? You don’t have to live with it; Rick Maybury looks at
some ways of sprucing up your mobile
It doesn’t take long for your shiny new
mobile phone to become covered in scratches, dents and dinks, sooner or later
you’re going to drop it! It’s not usually a problem, providing it still works,
but a tatty phone isn’t very attractive. Moreover, cracks or breaks in the case
may eventually lead to more serious problems. On the other hand you may have
simply become bored with it, after all, one little black button box looks
pretty much like the rest.
Apart from replacing your phone, there’s not
much you can do about its looks, at least, there didn’t used to be. Now you can
give your phone a different identity, from a simple cosmetic facelift with some
brightly coloured stickers, to a completely new case, and all for a lot less
than the cost of changing your phone.
However, before we go any further we’re duty
bound to insert a disclaimer or two and alert you to the perils of tinkering around with the guts of your phone.
Case replacement on most handsets necessarily involves some dismantling, that usually
requires specialist tools, which you’re unlikely to find in your home handyman kit.
If you attempt to disassemble a phone without them, you will almost certainly
do a lot of expensive damage. Secondly, any modification to the phone will
invalidate the manufacturer’s guarantee. If you’re not willing to accept the
risks involved, or unsure of your abilities, don’t do it! You could ask your
friendly local phone mender to do it for you, though they’ll charge you, and
you’ll still void the warranty.
But just how difficult is it? On some models
it’s quite straightforward, involving removing a half dozen or so small screws,
carefully separating the halves of the old case, and slotting on the new one.
However, most manufacturers use tamper-resistant ‘Torx’ type screws. They look
a bit like hex or Allen screws, but the ‘key’ hole is star-shaped, and no other
type of screwdriver blade (Philips, Posidriv or cross-head) will fit. Torx keys
and screwdriver heads are available, but the really small ones used on phones
(T4 and T6) are difficult to obtain.
Prising plastic cases apart is something of
an art. Inside there are usually rows of little plastic lugs, that have to be
carefully released, it’s quite an art. If you tug or prise too hard they will
break, possibly allowing the case shell to fly apart, spilling the contents, or
stretching and snapping wires attached to components inside the case. Even if
you do manage to remove the old case without incident, there’s the problem of
static discharge. The delicate microcircuits inside a phone can be easily
damaged by high voltage static electricity; it’s good practice to wear an
earthing strap on your wrist, to neutralise any charges, before you go poking
around. You have been warned...
At the moment cosmetic upgrades are available
for a handful of the most popular phones. They include members of the Ericsson
and Nokia families plus some Motorola Flips, Flares and TACs. Others may follow,
though you can be fairly sure accessory companies will only bother with top-selling
models. Nokia and Ericsson phones are both relatively easy to re-case, Motorola
Flips can be real swines, removing the hinged cover can be a very tricky
operation, and we’d advise against trying it.
BTG REPLACEMENT COVERS £35-£45
BTG have some of the more exotic replacement
cases, including our favourite so far, the ‘Aloha Palmtree’ for the Ericsson
337. This is a transparent case, so you can see the innards; it’s a bit
Swatch-like, rather trendy and very eye-catching. All of the kits we’ve seen
were very complete, in addition to the replacement shells they include a new
display window, rubber keypad and a full set of trims. They have a good selection
of finishes, from sober blues to wacky wood and sparkling emerald. They’re made
to a very high standard, comparable with the original item.
Typical price £35-£45
Available finishes transparent, wood, blue & green coral, blue &
To Fit Ericsson
237/337/338, Nokia 2110, Motorola Flip
telephone (01992) 825825
What Cellphone Verdict 87%
KONDOR FASCIAS, £40
Very smart looking case shells for Ericsson
and Nokia phones, with wood coloured marble, as well as standard black! Some
kits are rather basic, though the Ericsson model is fitted with earphone and
microphone modules, which makes fitting a little easier. They’re not especially
cheap, though the quality is very good and we couldn’t detect any significant
difference between them, and the makers originals, in terms of fit and finish.
Typical price £40
Available finishes burr walnut, micro-carbon, blue marble, green marble
To Fit Ericsson
337/338/388, Nokia 233, 1610, 2110, 2140, Samsung SS710
telephone 01425 276644
What Cellphone Verdict 83%
ORA FACELIFT COLLECTION £13 for 3
If you don’t fancy the idea of a full case
transplant, then how about these colourful stickers from Ora? They only take a
couple of minutes to fit. The phone must be thoroughly cleaned first, otherwise
they won’t stick. It can be a little fiddly, and some care is needed to line up
all the holes. The adhesive takes around 24 hours to set, after that the stickers
stay firmly in place. They can be easily removed, though they can’t be used
again. At £13 for three they’re a little pricey, but they really can transform a
dull, tired looking phone, giving it a new lease of life.
Typical price £13
Available finishes blue, shocking pink, magenta
To Fit Ericsson
237/238/337/338, Motorola Flare, Nokia 2110/2120/2140/2146
Electronics, telephone (01296) 415445,
What Cellphone Verdict 85%
WESTAR DESIGNER FASCIAS, £28-£30
Another selection of well thought-out kits,
with all the little bits and pieces, and replacement keypads on some models. Currently
they have cases for Ericsson 337 phones, and a couple of wood and blue marble
cases for the Nokia 2140 (with matching batteries). The Ericsson range is most
impressive; there’s a selection of clear, coloured, black and chrome shells, plus some with spring-loaded flip fronts.
Quality of manufacture is fine, and the prices are very reasonable indeed.
Typical price £28-£30
Available finishes wood, blue marble, graphite green, clear, micro-carbon
(standard and Flip styles)
To Fit Ericsson
337, Nokia 2140
Connections, telephone 0181-903 3903
What Cellphone Verdict 88%
Ó R. Maybury 1996 1410