Rear camera lens cover shattered

Discussion in 'Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge & S7 Active' started by makaiguy, May 14, 2016.

  1. makaiguy

    makaiguy New Member

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    I've had my S7 less than a month. Recently I discovered the rear lens cover shattered. Phone was not dropped and as far as I know this just happened while the phone was in my pocket. I have an OtterBox case on it, but that leaves the camera lens and its cover exposed. Researching this I'm finding a few reports on the net about the same thing happening to others. This cover glass is amazingly thin and I don't see how it can provide much protection other than as a dust seal. I placed some transparent tape on it to keep the shards from either breaking off in my pocket or coming loose and scratching the actual camera lens.

    I took it to my local phone repair shop for an estimate and he said all I needed to do is buy a replacement cover glass (like this one on Amazon - Amazon.com: EShine® Back Rear Camera Glass Lens Replacement + Adhesive Preinstalled for Samsung Galaxy S7 G930 / S7 Edge G935 (ALL CARRIERS)+ EShine Cloth: Cell Phones & Accessories) and that I could do it myself from the outside without having to take the case apart. He advised to be very sure I had removed all the shards of the original broken cover which are sticking to the underlying adhesive, as any tiny pieces would create stress points that would crack the replacement.

    So I bought the replacement cover glass and went about cleaning out the old broken pieces, using a hair dryer to soften the adhesive and fine tweezers to pull of the glass pieces. This turned out to be a slower and more painstaking job than I anticipated. Tiny glass pieces adhering to the adhesive are almost impossible to see, and it is necessary to use a strong light, moving around from all directions, to spot them by their reflections. I've come back to it several times after I thought I was done and have found a few tiny shards left each time, but I think I've got it now.

    So I have several questions before I apply the new lens cover:

    1) The replacement glass has its own ring of adhesive. Should I be removing the original adhesive pad that surrounds the actual lens first, or just apply the new cover on top of the old adhesive pad? From the tech's comment about being sure all the old shards are removed, it sounds like the pad should stay in place.

    2) The camera assembly appears to float within its frame rather than being held rigid. Is this normal? I thought it might be a form of shock protection for the camera.

    3) When I fire up the camera with NO cover in place, the focus is not sharp. I had assumed, if anything, it would be sharper than before in the absence of the cover glass. Is it possible the cover is an essential part of the optics, or perhaps part of the autofocus system? If not, my question 2 pops back into play, and perhaps more than the lens cover was damaged.
     
  2. Jonny Kansas

    Jonny Kansas Administrator
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    1. I would think it's a good idea to try & get most of the original adhesive off.

    2. The S7 has Optical Image Stabilization. It should definitely "float" in there & be "loose". If it's working properly, it physically adjusts as the phone shakes/bumps, allowing it to take more reliably clear pictures & less shaky videos.

    3. I would assume that the hardware is tuned to have the lens in front of it, so this doesn't surprise me. Think of the lens like a pair of glasses or contacts tact lenses. This is just an assumption on my part though, so someone who knows more about cameras might have better insight.

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  3. FoxKat

    FoxKat Premium Member
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    Actually everything I've ever known about the flat glass that makes up the front cover is that it should have virtually no refractive power and nearly 100% light transmission and so it should not impact focus either to improve or degrade. It would be similar to screwing a UV filter onto an SLR camera lens. If the camera is not focusing correctly without that dust cover I do fear the focusing element may have either been damaged or is somehow now being impeded by leftover glass fragments of the shattered cover. I would invest in a pair of high magnification reading glasses or a loupe and examine the lens assembly evermore carefully than you already have.

    Jonny is correct that the lens assembly should 'float' on what is essentially a set of springs and tiny electromagnetic positioners which both compensate for camera shake and do the focusing. They are independent of the outermost flat glass IMHO.

    Finally, since the replacement glass comes with adhesive you will want to remove all existing affected adhesive since any remaining adhesive or glass fragments will prevent the cover glass from seating properly and laying flat to the Camera and phone back. Any slight change from completely flat in relation to the camera lens will at least cause some light to be reflected off at an angle rather than penetrating and reaching the real lens optics, thereby reducing effective light gathering and result in degraded Camera performance, especially in low light situations.

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
     
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  4. makaiguy

    makaiguy New Member

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    Reporting back in case it would be helpful for the next guy to come in with the same problem.

    First off, thanks, guys, for taking the time to respond and help me out. I didn't see FoxKat's reply until just now, when I returned from a return visit to my repair shop guy. I frankly figured he'd know more about the phone and camera than the clowns down at my local Verizon shop. He confirmed that the thin glass cover is an essential part of the system and that the camera would not focus properly without it. He also confirmed the camera assembly "floats" thanks to the image stabilization feature.

    As for the adhesive, there is a black "sticky and squishy" pad surrounding the lens assembly to which the original shattered cover was adhering. I didn't attempt to remove this as it would seem to be necessary for spacing purposes, which he also confirmed.

    Feeling guilty about taking up the repair shop guy's time, I paid him to complete the fairly trivial job of sticking the replacement glass lens cover in place.

    Viewing through the camera now I'm getting a good focus again, and a few test photos look nice and sharp.
     
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  5. Jonny Kansas

    Jonny Kansas Administrator
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    Thanks for the update! Definitely some good information for future reference there. I wasn't sure about what kind of adhesive was still on the phone vs. what came on the replacement lens, but it definitely makes sense to want to keep the padding on the phone if the new lens didn't have it.
     
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  6. FoxKat

    FoxKat Premium Member
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    Well as Jonny said, thanks for the updates. It's quite interesting that the lens cover is "an essential part of the system and that the camera would not focus properly without it". That goes against everything I have known about camera lenses for 40 years, however new technology brings with it new problems and new solutions. I'll certainly be reading up on this and looking to confirm and understand this.

    As for the adhesive, yes it is often a foam rubber based adhesive grommet that is used in these phones for many different purposes. I'm not surprised they use that for the lens cover as well. Most often it's used for making a connection between that speakers or microphones and the case cover but it's suitable for any adhesion where two parts are coming together, especially where there is a gap to fill, or where some amount of shock protection is needed. It's less often used for simply adhering the case backs on larger flat surfaces but may be used along narrow edges for instance, or between the case cover or other internal components and narrow mating surfaces.

    The technician should have been knowledgeable and skilled enough to know whether that original grommet was damaged beyond repair/reuse or not. I would think it should have been replaced for two reasons.

    First, it's very easy to either tear or get crumpled, folded over and have it stick to itself at one place or another while removing the original lens cover (as often happens to those between the case backs and speakers or microphones during disassembly). This would be even more likely in the case of a shattered glass where tiny fragments are remaining.

    Second, any adhesive is never as good at adhesion after being removed and reapplied as it is upon the first contact adhesion. Fingers and/or tools used to remove it (which transfer dirt and oils), and even static electricity that is formed upon removal that then attracts dust onto the exposed adhesive will all degrade the adhesive's performance. It may stick now but it's more likely to come loose in the future if adhesive is reused. This is why when replacement parts are provided they often come with the new adhesive either already attached with a protective peel away layer for the mating surface or they come as a separate piece with peel aways on both sides.

    I'm glad to hear it's all working normally now, and your post and follow-up have provided valuable information that can help others on the future as well. Good luck and keep an eye on that lens cover to make sure it's not coming loose going forward.

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
     
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  7. makaiguy

    makaiguy New Member

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    Re the camera itself:

    Yeah, I'm pretty surprised too. Photography has been an interest of mine for years, and I didn't see how a thin sheet of flat glass could affect the focusing, but it apparently does. If you find anything on how this works, I'd be glad see it.

    Re the adhesive pad:

    The replacement glass had its own very thin ring of adhesive with a peel-off backing. See the link in my original post to the Amazon item, it includes a photo. So even if the original pad's adhesive isn't 100% up to snuff the adhesion should still be okay. But I think the original adhesive was in pretty good shape as I used a hair dryer to heat and soften it and the shards seemed to pull off cleanly with no residual adhesive.

    In this operation the original pad never had a chance to fold back on itself as the other side remained firmly stuck to the surface below it at all times.
     
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  8. Jonny Kansas

    Jonny Kansas Administrator
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    I kinda wonder if it's not so much that the lens aids in focusing, but that the camera has been tuned to focus THROUGH that thin piece of glass. If it was setup to take that glass into consideration when focusing, I guess I could see how not having it would mess with how it focuses. Again, I don't really know much, but that's the only way I can make much sense out of it and kind of what my initial thought on the subject was anyway, though I don't think I explained what I was thinking very well.
     
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  9. FoxKat

    FoxKat Premium Member
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    No, Jonny, I think you might be onto something there. Given how short the distance from the outermost face of the lens cover to the actual image sensor, a mere half centimeter or so, and the number of glass focusing elements between them....
    [​IMG]

    ....it's quite conceivable that there could be a miniscule amount of refraction taking place through that lens cover, especially given how steep of an angle that light can be taking as it passes through to the lens.

    Also, the focusing distances from nearest to farthest for the lens is a movement of maybe a couple millimeters? With such tiny distances is quite conceivable that a glass that's but a fraction of a millimeter thick could still impart significant effect to the light passing through it, enough to throw off the focusing.

    This would of course not be an issue at all with an SLR camera as mentioned before. Adding lens covers, filters and the like have virtually no detectible effect on those cameras' autofocus systems.

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    #9 FoxKat, May 16, 2016
    Last edited: May 16, 2016
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  10. mountainbikermark

    mountainbikermark Super Moderator
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    This is what holds cellphone cameras back. The piece of glass is in essence the lens. A cheap piece of glass, like most manufacturers use, will never give the quality photo ability that could be had if they spent a dollar more on the good ones. my old Dare phone takes phenomenal (relative to its counterparts) photos due to using a better "lens" to go with the same software and sensor in other phone cameras of its era.

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  11. makaiguy

    makaiguy New Member

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    Update, couple of weeks later.

    Sadly, I mis-reported something earlier. Turns out my test photos which seemed to show things were working correctly after replacing the lens cover were all closeups of near objects which showed a lot of detail. These were fine. But when I later tried to shoot more distant objects the focus was not good.

    I'm not sure the focus on the original phone ever worked right, even before the lens cover was damaged. I don't use the camera on a phone much, using instead a separate digital camera with a 20X optical zoom for most of my picture taking, so I only took a couple of test pictures when I first received the phone, and it seemed to work. Now, when I look at those two pictures, they aren't all that sharply focused either - the thumbnails in Gallery looked okay, but when viewed full screen they were not good.

    I bit the bullet and ended up going to my local Verizon store, and they confirmed the focus was defective and determined the camera should be replaced. As the 14-day direct exchange date had passed, they had a unit overnighted to me, and I sent the original one back. The camera on the new unit focuses as it should and gives much better results than the old camera ever did.
     
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  12. FoxKat

    FoxKat Premium Member
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    Which confirms my original suspicions. I was open to the idea that the dust cover glass was somehow factored into the focusing process but it went against everything I knew of how lens systems for cameras work. I'm glad to know you've gotten a replacement that works as expected but it's a shame you had to go through so many steps to get there.

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