Restoring a Lumia 930: A trial of successes and pitfalls

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I'm back, this time with a DIY tale that involves me refreshing an old 'special edition' Lumia 930, with a little help from Steve's own pioneering journeys into the metal and plastic. Are you brave enough to follow in our lead? Any 930 tales you want to share?

One of the things that the Lumia 930 is famous (or rather, infamous) for is its sealed design that prevents you from doing anything fancy like replacing the (rather small) battery when it eventually gets exhausted. In addition, the sprung pins connecting the LED flash and the Qi charging coils embedded in the back cover to the main board are also liable to lose pressure over time due to the way they are designed, leading to wireless charging that frustratingly and intermittently cuts out.

I came into possession of a Lumia 930 Special Edition (one of the black and gold ones) by way of a very good friend, but after several months of gentle use I came to find the camera “glass” on the back begin to lose its outer coating, creating some cloudiness on the otherwise clear window. That is not something that you want to live with when you have a smartphone whose unique selling points include that fabulous 20-megapixel PureView shooter. Being unsuccessful in trying to buff it out, I decided that a back cover replacement was necessary.

Steve has written up a handy guide on how to remove the back cover of the Lumia 930 that I have myself referred to when doing surgery on my own 930. Instead, I will run through several common pitfalls that you might be likely to run into when attempting this procedure, and how you can avoid them if you ever need to go through this nerve-wrecking operation on your 930.

1. Ensure your workbench is clean. Really clean.

This seems obvious for any hardware disassembly, but is especially important in the case of the Lumia 930. The only thing shielding the delicate camera optics from the outside world is the external lens on the back cover. Remove it and the guts of the Lumia 930 camera are exposed to the elements.

Since you are going to have to also conduct the procedure with the Lumia 930 screen-side down, you don’t want any stray grit or dust particles to gouge up the screen. Wipe down that tabletop before you begin!

2. Avoid most eBay parts, even if they are labelled “genuine”.

The issue with procuring a new back cover from eBay is that all you get is a piece of plastic without the Qi charging coils, NFC antenna or camera glass assembly. In my case, that made the part I ordered a no-go - what’s the point of swapping the back of my 930 for a new one when that won’t give it a new and unblemished camera glass?

In the end, I reached out to Steve who kindly agreed to send along his spare orange Lumia 930 back with most of the components attached (all that was missing were the LED bulbs). As Steve touched on, you really want to make sure your replacement back cover comes with the above-mentioned parts because the Qi charging coils are especially difficult to extract. I tried - oh believe me I tried - and ended up damaging the darn thing.

3. Use some clear tape on the external side of the back cover to tape down the LED flash in place before reassembly.

Unlike on most devices, the LED flash on the Lumia 930 is a self-contained module that is not physically attached to the mainboard. It’s a little thing that should stick to your original back cover as you peel it away from the Lumia 930’s chassis, and you are going to have to extract it. Once extracted, however, it then refuses to stick onto the new back cover.

Black cover for Lumia 930 installation

By holding the LED flash module in its slot and placing a piece of clear tape over it on the external side of the back cover (the side with the Nokia badge), you can make sure the flash stays in place as you reassemble your 930. Not doing so will likely cause the flash module to become dislodged at the slightest opportunity and roll around inside the 930, which is something you definitely want to avoid.

4. Start the reassembly process from the bottom of the phone and move upwards.

The clips that hold the back cover to the metal chassis of the 930 are a pain in general, but the ones that cause the most trouble are the ones on the bottom due to their size and shape. You will want to ensure those are properly seated first, and it might take a few tries to ensure that they are indeed locked in position. The sides are child’s play compared to the bottom and the top clips, believe me.

5. You will have to apply a definite amount of force and push the cover downwards and inwards.

This back cover is not going to go back in its place without a fight, so you are going to have to use some effort against the edges to get it reseated properly. Be sure to apply force slowly and deliberately and do not rush this step unless you are a masochist and enjoy trying to resolve the issue of clips getting stuck along the way. [editor (Steve)'s note: my 930 back has been on and off about 30 times now, and it gets a lot easier as the clips wear a little!!]

Black cover for Lumia 930 installation

One useful tip is to apply the force downwards and inwards. The Lumia 930’s back cover is very slightly bowed and in order to fit properly into the space allotted to it, it’s going to have to be compacted a little.

6. If you need to remove a half-attached back cover for whatever reason (e.g. stuck clips), be gentle.

You really, really do not want to deal with the delicate plastic clips breaking off.

7. You might need to push really, really, really hard.

Towards the end of this procedure I still had the top left corner of the back cover sitting proud of the chassis despite all the clips seemingly seated correctly. What I did to resolve this was to sandwich the Lumia 930 within a soft quilt, grip the 930 through the quilt and push extremely hard downwards on that corner. If you ever need to apply excessive amounts of pushing, ensure that cushioning is present, especially for the large sheet of glass up front, and ensure a secure grip to prevent the soap bar-shaped 930 from zooming away from you and ending up on the floor.


While none of this would have been necessary if the Lumia 930 had just come with a back cover that was designed to be removable like the 830 did, it may ultimately be a necessity to carry out this procedure, as in Steve’s and my experience. It took quite some effort, but I now have an incredibly eye-catching one-of-a-kind Nokia Lumia 930 with gold sides and an orange back :P

Do tell us more about your experiences conducting surgery on the Lumia 930 and whether you have come across any quality sources for back covers that don’t skip all the necessary components. Good luck in the workroom!