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How to Fix a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3

How to Fix a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3

Tablet won’t turn on?  Won’t charge?  Nothing lights up even when plugged in?  If you’ve got a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, it’s likely that there’s a relatively simple fix.

For reasons unknown, the Galaxy Tab 3 has a rather nasty design flaw that can easily lead one to believe their device has been rendered utterly useless when the battery runs down.  If you’re experiencing any of the following problems with your unit, this fix should be your first stop.

  • Device won’t turn on
  • Device won’t charge
  • Nothing lights up when plugged in

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3What has probably happened is that the battery has completely run down.  Because of this strange design flaw, the unit won’t simply recharge.  The only way to get around this is to manually disconnect and then reconnect the battery, from the inside of the unit.

Here’s where it gets tricky; how do we get inside the device?  There are no obvious screws or clips or anything else to suggest disassembly, so we have to get creative and be careful not to damage the tablet in the process.  Although the procedure isn’t too difficult, this isn’t something you’ll want to do on a regular basis.  To prevent this in the future, be sure to always keep your Galaxy Tab 3 charged, and if you can’t, be sure to power it off.  Again, the bizarre flaw seems to only manifest itself when the battery runs down when the unit is turned on.  If the device is off and the battery loses its charge, it will recharge without incident.

Note:  This, along with the rest of Nerd Bacon’s DIY projects, should be attempted at your own risk.  We are not responsible for any resulting damages or injuries.  Please recognize that there is always a risk when attempting such activities.  All told, this procedure is relatively safe when performed as instructed, but that doesn’t mean someone won’t start prying around with a screwdriver, slip, and end up destroying half of the circuit board.  

Materials

  • A small, thin, yet flexible piece of plastic (I used a guitar pick, medium weight; a credit card may work)
  • A narrow, sturdy object; a small key or small knife will do

I know that isn’t the most exact list of materials ever, but since we don’t have Samsung’s specialized repair tools, we have to make do with other objects.  It may not make much sense just yet, so take a look at the pictures and read through everything before you start.  You may find you have something even better suited to the task.  I had a plastic razor blade that I thought would be perfect, but it ended up not being nearly flexible enough.

Guitar Pick

The actual guitar pick I used for the operation (twice!).

Knife

Anything narrow and metal will work. A knife may not be the safest option, but it does have the best shape.

Step 1:  Remove the Back Cover

Our first order of business is to gain access to the battery by removing the back cover of the tablet.  This is the toughest part, but once you’ve done it once, you’ll be able to repeat it easily.  This is where we have to be careful not to damage the unit, which is why using plastic is a must.  The good news is that if you do damage it, it’ll likely be only in the form of cosmetic damage to the outer lip.  If you had to choose between a pristine bricked tablet or a knicked up functional one, which would it be?

Ideally though, we won’t be using anything strong enough to bang up the surrounding plastic.  A small plastic prying tool is probably the best thing to use, but I don’t have such a tool.  After trying a few different things, I finally landed on a MEDIUM guitar pick.  You could probably use a LIGHT one as well.  I’d be careful about VERY LIGHT, as it may break, and I’m not sure if HEAVY would be flexible enough, though it probably would.  The important thing here is that whatever you use is:

  1. plastic
  2. thin
  3. flexible
  4. durable

You want whatever you use to be able to bend considerably without breaking.  It also needs to be thin enough to slip between the unit and the back cover, and the plastic prevents damage.  Now we get to the tough stuff.

Notice the thin gray/silver border surrounding the white area of the tablet.  What you’ll need to do is slip your plastic in between these two areas.  I know it may seem impossible, but with a little bit of pushing, it’ll slip right in.

Back Cover

I wish these pictures had turned out better, but you should be able to see how I’ve wedged the pick in between the white area and the silver/gray back cover.

Back Cover

Here is the same thing from a different angle. It’s a tight squeeze and it may take some pushing, which is why we want something that won’t damage the exterior of the tablet.

Besides going “down,” the plastic will also need to travel “inward,” towards the screen.  With the plastic inserted, start sliding it around the border.  From time to time, it will seem to stick.  When it does, apply a little extra force and try to push inward as well.  It’s difficult to explain, but if you’re using a flexible enough piece of plastic, you should be able to play around with this motion until you get it right without damaging the tablet.  You’ll need to do this all the way around the unit, paying special attention to the corners.

What we’re doing here is dislodging a number of small clips that hold the back cover onto the rest of the device.  This can be tricky at first, but after going around the tablet a couple of times, you should be able to notice where certain areas have started to dislodge and where you need to focus the remainder of your efforts.  It will take a modicum of force to slip past and dislodge these clips.  As long as you’re using an appropriate tool, don’t be afraid to give it some extra pressure.  If you still find yourself “stuck,” periodically adjust the angle.  After you’ve gotten past a couple of clips, you’ll have a good idea of what it feels like to dislodge one.  Once all the clips have been disengaged, the cover will gently fall off.

Important:  Do not simply pull the cover off once parts of it feel loose.  You could damage the remaining clips.  If there is any resistance at all, use your plastic tool to continue pushing downward and inward until the clip releases. 

Step 2: Disconnect and Reconnect the Battery

Now that you’ve removed the cover, take a look at the inside.  Be sure to lay your tablet down on something soft as to not scratch the screen.  The large white area is the battery, and somewhere along the edge you should see a small set of 4 colored cords.  This is where the battery joins the circuit board.  Before you start tugging and pulling on this small set of cords, you’ll need to have something thin, narrow, and preferably metal on hand.  A small enough key will work, as will a small knife, just be careful not to cut anything.

Battery Connector

The arrow is pointing at the connector cables. We need to be very gentle when prying the black part (on the left side of the cords) out of it’s holder.

Working very gently, insert your metal object underneath the 4 small cords.  If using a knife, make sure the blade is pointing towards the battery and away from the black connector.

Note:  There may be a small sticker on top of the connector.  This is unimportant.  Remove it before going any further; you can always put it back when you put the unit back together.

Again working gently, begin to pry the black part upwards.  Move your object as close to the black connector as possible, and twist your object so that the pressure is forced near the joint.  Don’t do anything quick or jerky, just a steady and even twist until the connector disconnects.

Battery Connector

Be sure to pry the connector up with the blade pointing the other direction as to not damage any cables. Apply gentle pressure until the connector releases.

Once every part of the connector is disengaged, use your fingers to gently finish disconnecting the black piece.  Make sure it is completely disconnected.

With the battery disconnected, all you’ll need to do now is reconnect it.  Place the black piece back where it came from, push down gently, and it should snap right into place.

Ideally, this is when we’d test the unit to make sure that the procedure was a success, however, the Galaxy Tab 3 is designed so that it will not turn on or do anything else with the back removed.  It may seem like we’re done, but keep reading, or you may find that your tablet still doesn’t work.

Step 3: Replace the Back Cover

This part is comparatively easy, but there are a few details worth paying attention to.  The back cover is going to on pretty much like it came off, though you’ll want to pay special attention to your Power and Volume buttons on the side.  It is best to align these first when replacing the back cover, else you risk dislodging them and having to take the cover off once again.

With the side buttons firmly in place, begin pressing on the edges of the tablet.  You’ll begin to hear the clips locking back into place.  Be sure to pay special attention to the corners, and work your fingers around the edges several times.  If you see any gaps between the cover and the tablet, you’ll need to press down on these areas specifically.

It’s important to note that the unit, even if “fixed,” will not function if even a single clip is still disengaged, and sometimes it isn’t obvious that a clip is actually disengaged.  Of course it is possible that your unit is facing a different issue, but if the battery has died while the unit was turned on, this will likely fix it.  Just keep working your fingers around the edges, and try again.

Step 4: Finishing Up

Having disconnected and reconnected the battery and replaced the back cover, your Galaxy Tab 3 should be ready to go.  Plug it in, and you should see the big battery symbol appear on the front.

Charging

Don’t you dare touch it! For 30 minutes! Don’t even turn it on!

Be sure to let it charge for at least 30 minutes before attempting to turn it on or unplug it.  If you don’t, you risk the chance of having to disassemble the unit all over again.  Don’t touch it for 30 minutes.

If your tablet still doesn’t work, it’s worth trying another charging cable or two, preferably the one that came with the device or an official Samsung charging cable.  Also keep in mind that it’s possible that one or two clips still haven’t completely connected as mentioned in the previous step.  Before giving up completely, unplug the unit, and work your fingers around the edges a few more times.  You may not hear any obvious clicks or feel anything catching, but sometimes it just takes a little bit of pressure to full engage the clips.

Prevention

Just to reiterate, this is an ongoing issue.  If the battery of your Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 discharges completely while the device is on, you’ll need to do this all over again.  It’s a shame that such a gross oversight made it to market, but at least we have a way of fixing it, even if it is slightly troublesome.  The good news is that if you do ever have to fix it a second or third or fourth time, it becomes remarkably easier to pop the back cover on and off.

The important things to remember are to:

  1. Plug it in when you get the low battery warning!
  2. Turn it off if you can’t plug it in!

The battery running down isn’t the sole cause of the issue – remember, it’s when the battery runs down and the device is on that causes this problem.  If the battery depletes completely while turned off, it will recharge as normal.  So if you want to avoid playing around in the innards of your Galaxy Tab 3, keep it charged, and if you can’t keep it charged, turn it off!

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them here or email me directly!

Written by The Cubist

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist


Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

Email me anytime, about anything: thecubist@nerdbacon.com

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