Dell Streak screen repair yields a few welcome surprises

dell-streak

[Rupert’s] friend cracked the screen on his beloved Dell Streak 5 phone and handed it off to see if [Rupert] could repair it. He says that the glass replacement was a relatively straightforward affair – a process he documented in thorough detail worthy of iFixit.

He did come across a few interesting tidbits along the way, including an Atmel Mega168P hanging out on the broken screen’s digitizer board, which now resides in his parts bin. The most intriguing thing [Rupert] discovered however was that the phone’s on-board memory chip wasn’t soldered in as he would have expected. Instead, he found a standard microSD slot with a 2GB card in tow. He didn’t happen to have a larger card on hand, but after researching a bit he did find out that swapping the card is a relatively simple process.

If you happen to have one of these phones sitting around, or come across a damaged unit at any point, it definitely seems worth it to resurrect it and change the factory card out for something along the lines of a 32GB model. We certainly wouldn’t complain if we had a rooted 32GB Streak kicking around!

23 thoughts on “Dell Streak screen repair yields a few welcome surprises

  1. Similarly, the HTC Mozart comes with an 8GB class 4 microSD as its on board storage, however it seems a little picky about which cards to accept!

  2. I had a Dell Streak with the external SD slot damaged. I thought I could solder a new one on, but the parts were packed way too densely around it. After some research, I found a tread somewhere that talked about replacing the internal card with a larger one. Apparently it was successful. I didn’t do it, and instead bought another streak with a cracked screen. The thread is over at http://android.modaco.com/topic/311538-hardware-hacking-this-puppy-input/
    Although I found some other threads as well. From memory, I think the card was only a class 2 or 4 (It’s unmarked in mine), but apparently the raw transfer speed is not the most important parameter when running an OS off of them.

    1. Latency of random accesses is typically the most important performance metric for running an OS off of an SD card.

      IIRC, Windows Phone 7, which isn’t tolerant of high latency external cards (because it treats them as part of the internal memory IIRC), actually works better with a good quality class 2 or 4 card than a class 10 card.

  3. I wanted one of these reaaaally bad. Almost settled for a BLU Studio 5.3

    Couldn’t get my hands on either one.

    But in the end had to go for a Galaxy S 4G. Oh well.

  4. a 30 second search on google would have revealed these “secrets”. you can easily get to the inside card by cutting a slot under the battery. I’ve already replaced my 4Gig microSD main chip with a 32gig. adding a second 32gig to the other slot gives me more than I will ever need.

    Note: don’t be a cheapskate, use a class 10 card for BOTH slots. being a cheapskate poor student is not a good thing to do here.

    Now has he found a way to make Android not suck? The typical Android cant answer the ringing phone bug drives me nuts.

  5. Any discussion or data on the matter of SD card performance would be helpful for those of us preparing for our Raspberry Pis and is therefore greatly encouraged.

    As for the hack, very nifty, I doubt there are any other phones that’d do this for space reasons but it’d be worth checking I reckon.

      1. One box of a few ticked. Compatibility yes, performance no, if you find any data on *performance* then please do throw that my way

  6. I can’t be the only person wondering why Dell didn’t just not put plastic over it in the first place. They could have just put some warranty tape over it. Enough to scare off the muggles, but for those of us who like to tinker we can easily just rip it off.

  7. I cant grasp the mini board “hanging out”. Was this part of the phone, or just hidden in there in a baggy?

    1. It reads that the Atmel was from the broken screen.

      Most likely it was on a folded ribbon cable to the screen and the chip was soldered to pads on the actual ribbon cable.

      The new screen still has a chip soldered to its ribbon cable too.

      screen r-cable Chip
      [=====]——–+==+-
      screen r-cable Chip

  8. I have a forum post right now in the hardware help section about trying to interface this exact touch screen as it’s only about $40 or $50. It seems like that Atmel MCU uses a 6 wire I2C protocol to talk to the phone processor. Anyone with any ideas or info, should head on over to the forum and contribute.

  9. everyone is talking about the memory card upgrading. yes its cool and useful and such but arent we more interested by the fact that the display’s chip is ATMEL uC chip???

    is the code locked away inside (code protect “fuses”) or can it be read out??? hmm i would NOT post the file (binary rom) to the internet, but it WOULD be VERY useful for reverse engeneering (the screen itself) by the person that paid for the chip it resides on! so we can use the beautiful display at hand in ways the manufacturer never intended :) by issuing completely NEW code for the chip.

    PS: oh and if code is locked, we could at least erase the chip and recycle it (de-solder) :)

    1. yo all you people that want a “Mega168P” but cant be delivered to your country, buy a cracked Dell Streak display on EBay and desolder!

      yo if you have a cracked Dell Streak display maybe you can sell it on EBay to someone that cant buy exactly “Mega168P” in that country.

      easy 5$

    2. While researching the screen I found that it the uC is using a custom firmware from the manufacturer, but there are some clues in the android driver code for the screen. Using the datasheet for the Tango touchscreen processor that the uC talks to it shouldn’t be impossible to write new firmware for it but yeah sniffing the output might be easier.

      1. oh my bad, if its android… lol just read the driver sourcecode :P

        shows ive never seen/heardof the new Dell Streak!

        i was going on the assumption that it was a closed source phone/tablet :P

        but nonetheless, the mega168P could be recycled (de-soldered) at least if the screen is cracked, as in this case.

        actually, his screen still partially works, could use it as info display for desktop, just glue the screen inside the front of your computer and presto, new display.

        as for graphics, i was thinking just draw a box (both digitally and with paint/tape) that fits the working part, and do graphics stuff inside there.

    3. The AVR simply converts the SPI interface coming from the Tango S32 touchscreen controller to an I2C interface for the host device. It has nothing to do with the LCD.

      1. yeah, I thought that was clear we were talking about the touch panel, I guess I didn’t make that clear. If anyone has info on the interface for the lcd, that would be great.

  10. Funny because I have kept all my broken streak lcds because I hoped one day I could reburn the ATMEL chip.

    But yeah, the internal SD is kinda common knowledge around the Streak5 community, all you have to do it partition it correctly, most root roms are setup to mount the extra partitions automatically.

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