|Sad Broken Screen|
I did a quick search and found that you can order just the glass for $10 - including a micro tool kit and the cost of shipping. I also knew that my brother had replaced his screen on his iPhone 3g several times. My brother and I are pretty handy with electronics and small items (feel free to insert a penis joke here) from our pinball experience. Google revealed that there were also plenty of articles and youtube videos of people taking apart their iPhones (please note, I didn't actually read or watch them yet...I was just checking the possibility).
I thought myself, "How hard can it be?" I ordered a screen and wrapped my broken screen in a layer of clear packing tape to hold it together for a few days until my new glass arrived. A few days later, I head over to my brother's place to disassemble and fix my phone.
Tip #1 - Don't
Do not take your iPhone 4s apart. It is a much more complicated process than on older models. It can be done...but the whole process is tedious and frustrating. It starts off easy enough - you remove two pentalobe screws from the bottom of your iphone (and your screen kit even came with the pentalobe screwdriver for this). These screws are small but if you've ever had to wear glasses you are probably intimately familiar with this size of screw - not the easiest to handle, but no big deal. Then you slide off the back...and Fuck!
Tip #2 - A Clean Environment
|Not even the smallest screw that you will have to remove|
Tip #3 - You Need More Tools
|Some of the screws you will need to remove|
|How my hands felt|
Even with all these helpful tools, your hands are still too big and disassembly/reassembly process is awkward for your human sized hands. Even after you get all the screws out, you still need to remove all the shields over the electronics and unhook all the ribbon cables between the various components...and once again these things are tiny. I normally think of my hands as slightly smaller than the average person and maybe not nimble but at least functional...but working on this phone made it feel like my hand was an over-inflated balloon with polish sausage fingers. These was some serious Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum feelings on my part.
Tip #5 - Don't Buy Just the Glass
So remember at the beginning where I said that I did a quick search and there were tons of articles and videos on disassembling your iPhone...but that I didn't actually read or watch them? Well it turns out that you can't replace just the glass screen. The glass & LCD screen are permanently epoxied together...if you try to remove them, you end up destroying your LCD. You can buy the glass & LCD as a unit for about $40...but I only bought the glass.
|This is useless without the LCD attached|
Finally, once it was all back together (well mostly...a couple of the shields were not replaced due to being a huge pain in the ass)...we go to slide the rear cover back on but it will not fit snug down all the way. Some component is sticking up just a little to high. I am pretty sure it is the loud speaker/mic unit but I am too tired to care. We try to force the cover back on but it applies too much pressure on the electronics and causing the phone not to work at all. Removed cover and adjusted the pressure on components but didn't want to start taking things apart again to fix the slight bulge. I am totally sick of the project by now and decide the cover will be slightly crooked. And of course after removal a couple of times the super fine screws pretty much just strip out. Fine! The cover will held on by packing tape...to match packing tape on the front! If I am going to have a ghetto phone, might as well go all out.
Tip #6 - See Tip #1
I figured this project would take 20-30, it took over 2 hours and was just a totally frustrating experience. I was amazed that my phone still worked once it was back together. Can it be done? Yes. Should it be done? Probably not. It would have helped and been much less frustrating if we actually accomplished something...but it would still have been a huge pain. I wouldn't recommend it. I don't want to take it all apart again, I am just going to keep using my ghetto phone for a few months until I can upgrade for cheap. Actually, junk phone is kind of growing on me...plus I know when I do get a new phone, I will appreciate it that much more (and maybe have enough incentive to actually use a protective case).
PS - if you are going to make portable gadgets with glass screens, you really need to make them easily and cheaply replaceable.