Thursday, November 10, 2011

(not so) Quick Fix

Well, it was a difficult case, but I think he'll pull through. He may even be able to play the piano again.

I received a replacement iPhone 4 screen assembly in the mail today (thanks to iFixYouri, which was the least expensive not-so-shady place I found for this part). After B went to bed, I spread my tools out on the dining room table and set to work.

Those who are interested can follow the directions I used here from They really do such quality work! They rate this job as a 1-hour, Difficult repair. It is definitely not for the faint of heart. But I'm comfortable with doing delicate work. I deal with small electronics and fine mechanical assemblies on a near-daily basis for my job (though Apple takes it to one hell of an extreme). In true Yankee and Maker fashion I prefer to make-do and repair rather than replace. So let's have a go! It ended up being more like three hours due to my meticulous nature and some complications.

The most useful tool I used for this job was my non-magnetic, fine pinch tweezers. I cannot imagine doing this job without them: there were a few dozen tiny fasteners that needed to be carefully lifted out. From this and other repairs, I have developed a system for keeping them straight:

Yes, those labels I've written go up to about 27, as in Step #27. It takes a while to get down to the screen. In a thoroughly warranty-voiding operation, you approach it from the backside, remove the battery, the speaker assembly, the logic board (what a piece of work that is!), undo about a dozen tiny, high density connectors, before you can finally remove the screws that hold the screen to the stainless steel bezel.

However, once the screws are removed, the screen assembly does not simply fall off. In the vicinity of the Home button, below the edge of the screen itself, is a sizeable piece of double-sticky tape that helps to hold the front glass to the bottom section of the case. Since this is where the screen broke, it meant that my first attempts to remove the screen only caused more cracking and shattered glass. I did eventually get it off, but the double-sticky tape was left with a scree of glass shards that took a long while to remove.

Once the tape was more or less cleared of debris, the re-assembly with the new screen went pretty smoothly - just reverse the directions that got me there. I had no leftover parts, and I didn't have to force anything into place, so all seemed well.

Still, this is major surgery for a phone, so there was some apprehension when I turned the power back on. The screen lit up with that familiar Apple logo! It responded to my touch (ok, that's just a little too dirty)! As far as I can tell, everything works as well as it always had done. Cell reception is good, WiFi is strong, and no magic smoke was lost in the process.

All in all, I call it a victory.

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