Thursday, June 30, 2011

[UPDATED] HOW TO: Replace/Repair the hardware keyboard of your Motorola Droid / Milestone

EDIT: Awesome Sergio Mooh was so kind to translate it to espaniol :D -> go HERE!

Hey guys, long time no hear!

Since I can't sleep, because I'm fucking worried about my friends in Japan and can't sleep, I decided to put together a little tutorial on how to replace your hardware keyboard of your Motorola Droid or Milestone.

As we all know, these things are not built to last forever (yeah, still waiting for Godot... uhm Froyo here) Software wise, but also the hardware likes to show it's weaknesses over time. My personal nemesis is the hardware keyboard... As I'm a bit of a bulk-email-on-the-go-typer, my keyboard (the rubber-bubble-plastic-thingie) showed "slight" signs of exhaustion...

As you can see, I've got the shitty bubble-version and I bet, it is the most shitty variant ever. Yeah, you can better distinguish the keys from each other, but you also "shift" the keyboard around while typing and when the phone gets warm due to high usage, the glue softens and you get these wrinkles in the keyboard. It is not pretty but the worst thing is the "sucking" sound you hear each time you push a button. Annoying as hell...

So, I got a replacement keyboard for a few $/€ 10$ on eBay from a guy named "eaysworldwidetrading" it was really cheap and shipping was cheap and slow.. very slow (not the guys fault. took 4 weeks or something)

EDIT: @Bao was so friendly to post a link to the keyboard he purchased for his repairs -> Find it here: on (Netherlands.. but It should work if you just exchange .nl with .com like that)

It came properly packaged with a set of tools (not necessarily needed for exchanging the keyboard, but good if you want to take this thing apart).

I already popped the bubble-wrap.

There are 2 sets of tools, because I ordered 2 keyboards. You know, I'm typing.. a lot.
As you can see, the keyboard is self-adhesive and sticked to a clear plastic carrier, you dispose before you glue it on the beast!
it is just the plastic covering, not the closing contacts.

Ok, so lets get started...
First: Remove the battery
Phew, that was close. Rocket science.

So much for the easy part.

I used one of the tools for sliding under the shitty-wobble-rubber-crap-thing and carefully slid along the edges, lifting it inch by inch.

BE CAREFUL: It sticks to the EL-foil (the pink thing which illuminates the keys and carries the contacts) like hell, DON'T LIFT THE PINK FOIL WITH THE KEYPAD! Double and tripplecheck, I almost did that! You might have to use some force, but watch out, otherwise you have to order the next sparepart!

When you are done and your panic if you might have ruined the phone wore off (like in my case), the phone should look like this:

See that crappy thing? it even bends all by itself.

The black thing there along the edges is... you might have guessed it... lots and lots of sticky, crappy glue. Now is the time, that you might check if you still have a working keyboard and illumination. Put back in the damn battery and boot that thing... after pressing a few buttons and checking illumination (Don't forget that you have to cover the light-sensor, so the keyboard illumination activates), you are sure that you won't need an extra shopping tour on ebay, so switch the thing off again and remove the battery.

Next step: Get rid of the glue, so the new keyboard fits properly. I did this by "pushing" the glue in one direction using the flat side of the tool I also used to lift the keyboard and now and then removed the sticky glue-balls that form during this highly scientific and complicated process.


(you should pay a little attention, don't be too rough to your pink baby girl, she's the light of your life after all)
If you are awesome like me, the result should look somewhat like that:
look, shiny like new!

So, now the time has come to proof your real talents! Remove the plastic carrier from the new keyboard and use BOTH HANDS to move the keyboard in place. (I had to hold a camera too :P) The black notches give you an idea how to position the keyboard.

Caution: Sticky.

Be careful and not drunk, because if it sticks to the pink panther, repositioning is a real pain in the ass. Shove it in as far as you can (use your brain, brainiac) and then slowly and steady lower the keyboard, starting from the top (black notches)  to the bottom.. both sides at the same time. Check if you positioned it straight and if you have enough space to completely place it within the black frame (and not ON the frame)

yeah my screen is dirty.

Apply pressure simultaneously on both sides with both hands so you get an even keyboard (yeah dammit, I had to hold the camera..) and when you are done and Jesus loves you, it should look like that:


I like the spare keyboard more than the original ones, because it is way easier to type on... My opinion, but it's a matter of taste. Downside: I only found the US Version of the keyboard, but as I'm only using US roms... I don't care... So much... (there might be some QWERTZ layouts too, but they are already almost vanished from the market)

And now you can take this crap and send it back to Motorola... or burn it.. or whatever.
frakkin' toaster!

If you made it so far without blowing up your phone... enjoy your new keyboard!

And always remember: The cake is a lie.



Chris said...

amazing, i'm doing this as soon as my new keypad shows up :-|

thumbs up!

Florian Rohrweck said...

yay, I'm glad it helps someone :) Be careful and let me know how it goes!
Hmh my keypad took 4 weeks or longer to show up, takes a while...
Cheers ;)

Ramirodlp said...

I have a Motorola Milestone and it doesn't have this pink thing. It has contacts. Yours is Droid or Milestone?

Florian Rohrweck said...

@Ramirodlp It is a Milestone, but a very early one... the pink thing is the foil that glows up and lights up the keys... the contacts are directly underneath.. can you post a photo somewhere?

Ramirodlp said...

I found the pink thing, it doesn't seem easy to take out. I hope I don't break it...
One very important question: Did you have the problem with keys repetition? Did you solve it by doing this replacement? Because it's a very common problem and I didn't found anyway to fix it.

Florian Rohrweck said...

@Ramirodlp Do you mean that the keys pressed themselves multiple times? I never had that problem... be careful with the pink thing.. it should stay in there ^^ I guess it could solve your problem. You can boot without the rubber-covering and just press the buttons on the pink thing, then you'll see if the problem was connected to the old plastic-keys :)

Ramirodlp said...

Thank you very much, now I hope someone with this problem (keys repetition) follows your tutorial and post results.

Vivek said...

thnks for the fix..but i dont understand how to buy the spare part as the language is not in english..plz help

can you send the direct link??

Florian Rohrweck said...

@vivek try that one :)

Igor said...

Thank you Florian for this great tutorial. I've done it yesterday and my Milestone is now great again. I'm so happy now. Thank you a million times.

Florian Rohrweck said...

@Igor :) no problem pal :D I'm happy I could help you!

J@T said...

Thanks man. I changed my keyboard the last week and it's working great so far. :D Too bad I want my Motorola Atrix now xD

Florian Rohrweck said...

@J@T No problem :D yeah too bad that the Atrix has no hardware querty... I'd miss that, even if it's a part that easily breaks sometimes (see Droid&Milestone) ^^

J@T said...

I'm gonna miss sometimes the hardware keyboard but if you like that, Droid/Milestone 3 is on it's way I think :P

Bao said...

Thnx alot for this Tut, this saved me from unscrewing my Milstone. My Milestone had bolded keys from the beginning, but seems the new Keyboard with flat keys working better. Its an early keyboard also.

Link to the keyboard on ebay.

Florian Rohrweck said...

@Bao thx for the link pal, I'll update it in the tutorial :)

Lozzer said...

Thanks for the tutorial, could probably have done it without but would probably have ended up tearing up the pink membrane too :P. Cheers.

Florian Rohrweck said...

@Lozzer :D yeah you're welcome... I almost ripped it out.. huh... that was quite panic inducing ^^

Shaun said...

Great post! I recently just purchased my replacement keyboard, all while forgetting to check if the seller included instruction, and unfortunately they didn't >:O so I am really glad that you posted this up! Now I am just waiting to get it in the mail.

Florian Rohrweck said...

@Shaun :D Same happened to me... yeah you can imagine how I sweated in panic when I found no instructions on the web ^^ Let me know how it went after you changed the keyboard :)

Shaun said...

@Florian Oh my lordy, this is a great upgrade from that crap stock keyboard. Anyway, probably the hardest part from changing the keyboard was taking out the old sticky glue, and then actually putting in the keyboard (it was kind of hard to get it under the top half of the phone) but other than that your instructions really helped. Thanks!

Jon said...

Fantastic post. I've been losing keys off my droid for months and was contemplating sending it off to Motorola for repair (out of warranty). I followed your guide and I now have a working keyboard again! Thanks a million :-)

veki2630 said...

is the spare keypad still available in stock???

youwonder said...

Well that was terrifying, got halfway through peeling it off before realizing the bottom side didn't look like yours, turns out I was tearing off the (I swear to god superglued) pink membrane with it. Fortunately it still worked after I separated the two and put it back on.

PS. for anyone having trouble getting the gluey stuff off, try WD40 (or any oil base), it helps dissolve it.

JerrytheGreat said...

I found a pretty easy fix for people with a lifting keypad on their droid2 phone, and it may work for the original Droid as well--especially if you're out of warranty like me. I just fixed mine 2 days ago, and its still great, so I figured I'd share:

Rubber Cement and a small paintbrush

That's right, rubber cement!!
Just gently lift the keypad along the bottom edge (under the spacebar), and gently peel the bottom up, so you can slide a ballpoint pen or pencil under the bottom of the keypad. I used a pocketknife to do this. DO NOT completely remove the keypad!!
Using rubber cement, and a small paintbrush (like from a kid's paint kit) carefully spread a THIN layer of rubber cement around on the pink underpad, as well as the underside of the keypad. Keep the pen wedged under the keypad to hold it off the pink bottom for 15 minutes, then remove the pen, and carefully press the keypad back down into place. It will stick!! and it will stay stuck, too!!

If you got some rubber cement on the outside of the phone, just rub off the excess from the surfaces using a cloth, or the edge of your Tshirt.


Maia Dobson said...

This is a very helpful tutorial. It's important to take care of the membrane switch too when doing this.

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