A year or so back, I picked up an OEM HTC One X – which at the time was the nicest quad-core phone around that didn’t also happen to be a phablet.
Initially, I had no problems with the device, and the Android Jelly Bean update only brought better performance and a nicer UI.
Unfortunately, at some point, my device must have taken a knock causing the WiFi antenna to be less effective, dropping it’s effective range.
Luckily, this was still more than enough to be usable in most situations and I just left it as it was for best part of 6 months, after which a new update was pushed out from HTC.
Unfortunately (again…) the update changed the behaviour of the radio, causing the effective range for WiFi to drop to around a few feet, through walls, or a dozen or so if I had line of sight – thankfully by this stage I had invested in an ‘unlimited data’ plan, so I could at least leave the phone on HSDPA and still connect to the internet that way, and living in a town meant that most of the time I had more than enough signal that way.
Today, finally my patience ran out, having struggled with this set up for a few months, and wanted to fix the actual issue – antenna replacement can’t be that hard, right?
Step One – Getting Inside
One of the first problems with this repair is the nature of the device’s construction.
Phone manufacturers have moved away from the nice, hackable, screwed-together cases of the previous generation of phones, and started building ‘unibody’ cases, whereby the outside of the device is essentially a near-unbroken smooth finish.
Obviously this is a much nicer finish, but it does mean that DIY repairs or tinkering is made much harder.
Thankfully, the folks over at TechRepublic have put together a photo set showing exactly how to crack open the HTC One X’s case and get at it’s juicy innards.
Step Two – What Has Actually Broken?
Next, to find out what was the likely cause of my WiFi woes, I scoured the forums over at XDA Developers (who are consistently awesome!) for anyone with similar problems.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, for them and I) many other One X owners have had problems with the WiFi antenna, and the problem is fairly well documented.
Following the [HARDWARE FAULT] WiFi antenna fault post, over on the One X forums, and digging around in the links therein, I elected to have a go at repairing this myself, rather than trying to get HTC to do a fix for me (how hard can it be?!).
Another user in the thread usefully posted photographs of their own modification to the One X to fix the problem, and it was these that I used to fix mine.
Step Three – Crunch Time
Now that I had a much better idea of what had happened, and a good idea of what to fix, I set to work, cracking the case open and soldering a tiny wire between the defunct antenna connection and the antenna plate.
While the user I had been following had only attached a single wire from the top contact to the antenna, in my case this did not fix the WiFi problem, and I ended up attaching both contacts.
With this done, I very carefully reassembled my phone, et voila! Working WiFi again!
Look at all those pretty signals!
Hopefully, with that, this is the last I’ll see of the signal issues I’ve been experiencing, and I can finally have my phone back to normal.