Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Fixing and Photographing an LG G6 Cracked Camera Cover

Last week I picked my phone to take it down to breakfast and saw that I had been hit with the dreaded LG G6 Cracked Camera Cover issue:

Ever since I purchased the LG G6, I'd seen reports of the glass covering the camera seemingly spontaneously cracking. People complained that despite not dropping the phone, and having it in a beefy case, the glass still seemed to get damaged.

And so it was with my phone: I hadn't dropped the device, yet I was staring at shattered glass.

I now had two problems to deal with: (1) what was going to do about having a broken phone? and (2) how was I going to document this crackage for the blog? After all, the device that I'd usually use to take close up photos was the very device that needed to be photographed.

First things first, dealing with the broken phone. Had the crack been a cosmetic defect only, I would have ignored it. But it sliced right through the lens and under certain lighting conditions showed a clear artifact. Clearly, action needed to be taken.

Looking at T-Mobile's site, they appeared to offer a buy one, get one free on the new V30. It's a bit early for Shira and I to upgrade our phones, but if the price was right, I could certainly be convinced to do so. Talking to the store rep quickly put a damper on that plan. To get access to this new offer we'd have to give up our lower priced rate plan, and add a bogus line, which would be yet another expense. T-Mobile wasn't doing us any favors on this one and decided the upgrade would have to wait.

On to Plan B: in the past I've had a fellow with a storefront down the road fix my phone. I think his name is Gal? All I know is that I call (703) 505-9717 and tell the guy who answers what my problem is. He orders the part and I swing by the store at 2340 Columbia Pike. 30 minutes and $50 later, I've got a fixed phone:

As for the second challenge, that one is far more interesting. How do I take pictures of the cracked (and fixed) cell phone without using the cell phone?

I found two solutions to this. The first was the old reverse the lens trick. If you pop off your DSLR's lens and reverse it, you instantly have a crude macro lens. You can (and should) buy special attachments so that the reversed lens is properly aligned and remains steady. For my purpose, I just held the lens in place, like so:

I'd heard about using this technique but this was my first time applying it. I've got to say, I'm really impressed. Both the 75~300mm lens and 24mm lens gave interesting and usable results.

After using the DSLR approach above, I realized there's an even easier and lower cost way to get the pics I needed: a simple mirror. I grabbed the small mirror I carry in wallet and held it up to the cell phone. And of course, it allowed me to take snapshots of the device itself. So simple, so obvious.

Given the chatter on the web and my own experience, this is obviously some sort of design flaw in the phone. I wish LG or T-Mobile would acknowledge that. But for now, I'll be satisfied that my local repair man saving the day. Given how critical cell phones are, knowing a good repair man is up there with having a good dentist, accountant and car mechanic.

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