Saturday, April 2, 2011

iPhone Repair – Phase 2

Well, my new LCD panel arrived on Thursday and I was planning to work on it tonight, but I got inspired after midnight and ended up finishing the job at 3:45am this morning. I had wondered how the LCD panel, which is very sensitive to pressure, could be shipped safely through letter mail and when I saw the packaging I was impressed by the ingenuity of the average eBayer.


So … three things to replace:

  1. Touch screen glass
  2. LCD
  3. Battery

There are excellent tutorials at which anyone who wants to attempt this should read very thoroughly before starting :-) … the before being the suggestion I have come up with after screwing up my LCD and doubling my repair costs.

To remove the glass from the very thin plastic holder, you have to soften the strong glue that holds it in with a hair dryer. Then, when everything is too hot to handle you have to gently pry the glass out of the thin plastic frame without damaging the frame or the electronics attached everywhere.

It can be done, but is not much fun. In fact, the majority of the glass came out in one shot:


What you will notice here is that the right side (top of the phone) is missing. That’s because dozens of shards of glass of all sizes remained stuck to the top part of the phone. This required a painstaking scraping and lifting from the glue with the budgers and my fingers. I wore protective glasses and allowed the tiny bits of glass to fall on the table where I picked them up with torn pieces of packing tape. Use lots and keep going … after 20 minutes you will have them all off. Of course, you need to heat the glue now and again to keep it somewhat soft and pliable.

Eventually you arrive at the point where you have almost all the glue off.


The one spot that still has glue on it is the top left of the phone (left bottom in this image) near several slots filled with electronics. To make a long story short, I could not find my Goof Off glue dissolver (which might have overly softened the plastic anyway) so I tried some toluene (nail polish remover) and Q-tips. But that was a miserable failure.

It turns out that this glue is a film that responds perfectly to your thumb nail being scraped into the edges until it folds up enough to be pulled off. Duh.

So once it was clean, I applied the new film and the stuck the new glass into the frame, as shown here. By the way, can you see my next mistake? :-)


Well, the connector and a lift tab are poking out between the frame and the glass, another world class brain fart. I did not realize what I’d done until the whole phone was almost together. I had to pull the top and bottom apart again in order to reroute these two and by then the glue was less effective. So my glass wants to come up slightly all the time and I have to press it back down into its home. *sigh*

Anyway … it’s together now, so we need to reattach the LCD. This is a fairly straight forward task that I also manage to fuck up. Sheesh. Serves me right for working from 1am to almost 4am on this …

The new LCD is essentially identical to the old. Here you see the old one the right with the connector still folded under as it must be to connect to the bottom half of the phone. This is emphasized on one of the videos I watched. You need to wrap the connector around a screw driver to create the 180 degree bend in the connector without a crimp.


So you pry the old LCD out of its frame, peel off all the sticky crap and then remove the thin plastic protector from the new LCD and stick it to the back of the frame that slide into the top of the phone.

There are pins on two corners, kiddy corner to each other, and you just get those into matching holes and it lines up perfectly with the frame. I managed to make the only possible mistake, flipping the orientation of the LCD. I noticed this when the frame would not slide back into the top of the phone. Duh. So I carefully pried it up again and flipped it around. Worked a charm after that.

Next, the battery.


Notice anything about these two batteries? That’s right, they are identical … which tells me that there is something a bit funky going on in that industry. But whatever … I got a nice new part that is a perfect match. Can’t ask for more.

I won’t bore you with the details of the replacement … you basically remove the camera and the motherboard, which entails removing 8 or 10 really tiny screws, and then you lift out the battery that has been glued down. Watch the videos and read the manuals on ifixit.

Reassembling the phone is done by following the manual in reverse. Not all that big a deal, just go slow and make sure of each step. Cable #3 is a pain in the ass to get reconnected, but be patient. Lift the top a bit higher and come at it at a 45 degree angle and it will slide in, allowing you to press down the latch. After that it is really straight forward.

Once together, put in the SIM card and hit the power button. Worked perfectly first time. That’s a great feeling :-)


The issue I had noticed with the missing SIM card was now fixed, as I knew it would be. That had to be a connector popping from the force of the drop.


If you click through to the larger version of the previous image you can see the glass lifting up about a half thickness from the frame. It has stayed so far while riding in my pocket, so I think it’ll be ok. But to make sure, and to hopefully prevent the next repair, I have ordered an inexpensive wrap around silicon skin. It grabs just enough of the glass to help prevent it from coming loose. And there is enough cushioning to hopefully prevent shattering of the glass if dropped. We’ll see I suppose.

So … if you have the stones, give this a try. For 50 bucks I have an all new 3G with a fresh battery. Can’t beat that.

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