How I fixed the Broken Glass on my iPhone

July 7, 2008

Well, it happened.  I broke my iPhone.  Well, its not entirely broken, just the glass is cracked.  The rest of the phone works fine…figures.  Anyway, I spent nearly three weeks researching how to fix the glass without sending the phone to Apple for a $300 repair.  Turns out it can be done, but you will need to fork over about $100…and reserve about three hours of time…to fix it without damaging the rest of your phone.  You will also need patience and fearless resolve.

So, the first thing I did was go to eBay and search for “iPhone glass OEM”.  I found a seller with good feedback and forked over about $30 for the glass faceplate.  Keep in mind that the glass “touchscreen” does not hold any electronic capabilities.  Its just a 1/32 inch sheet of glass cut to the shape of the iPhone.

Then, I searched on eBay for “iPhone lcd digitizer screen”.  Again, I found a seller with good feedback and purchased the lcd digitizer for $50.

Running total: $80

Neither seller included the tools necessary to open the iPhone case appropriately (the metal casing for the back of the phone is particulary fragile and can be dented/scratched easily).  So, I was forced to purchase opening tools.  You can find these by going to a cell phone repair website such as pdaparts.com or pdasmart.com.

Running total: $90

In order to glue the glass plate to the lcd/digitizer, I needed a tube of rubber cement that is approved for adhering to glass.  I also bought some mini plastic clamps with rubber padding (to secure the two pieces together).  And, a jeweler’s tool kit with mini phillips screwdriver because I misplaced the set I thought I already have.

Grand total: $98 and some change.

Now, getting down to fixing the stupid thing.

I watched the following repair instructional video created by pdaparts.com  It is the most thorough tutorial I could find, and it helps to watch it a few times carefully before starting your repair.

Dissassemble the iPhone exactly as they show you how in the video.

The rest of the instructions are as follows:

Once you have reached the end of the steps shown in the video, set aside your poor iPhone and begin carefully inspecting how the lcd and glass screen are attached. I suggest making a diagram on a piece of paper and make notes as to what goes where, how the lcd is positioned on the screen, etc. Then turn to your new glass cover and lcd. Take *a little* rubber cement (make sure you get some that says it will bond to glass-crazy glue and stuff like that is not strong enough) and place three tiny equidistant dots on the top, bottom, and sides to *to the edge of the backside of the glass*. Now, carefully affix the lcd digitizer so that the cable plug ins are exactly how your broken glass/lcd assembly looks *face down*.

Its important not to over do it with the cement. All you need is enough to affix the glass to the lcd digitizer. Don’t ask me why the original is glued entirely on there. As long as the lcd and the glass are making contact, that’s all you need.

Based upon a reliable source, I am 99% certain the original glass/lcd unit is glued together using a room-temperature curing silicone-based paste on or spray on adhesive.  The glue dries crystal clear.  I had a hard time finding this kind of glue online for sale, so I decided not to pursue it.

Now, its time to reassemble the phone. Plug your cables back in using the video as your guide, thinking in reverse (I have a hard time doing that, so I made a diagram of the innards and how everything connected together as I was taking it apart so I could work backwards).

The mid-plate that was glued onto the glass/lcd unit can be glued back to place using some rubber cement.  Make sure you weave the connectors into the correct holes so that everything lines up correctly.  Reinsert the motherboard/battery, Those antennas that you had to pry off will easily be glued back into place with a bit of that rubber cement.

Hopefully you didn’t misplace the screws that held the frame and metal-backing in place because you’ll need them.

After everything is put back together again, hold your breath, say a prayer, take a drink, whatever…and turn it on. *Hopefully* everything will work ok. If it doesn’t, hope is not lost yet. There are several folks online that will repair your iPhone for the cost of a new 3G…notably http://www.pdasmart.com.

After all was said and done, I bought myself a new invisible full body shield to protect from knicks and scratches through http://www.zagg.com, and to prevent this from ever happening again, I bought an InnoPocket full body aluminum metal case that will withstand a drop from my kitchen table. Total price of repair, plus accessories: $138. Not having to buy into a iPhone 3G with a new contract, hidden fees, and waiting in line for a day…priceless.

Hope that helps anyone out there looking to avoid spending too much on repairs or total replacement.  I will add some pictures soon so you have a visual!

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17 Responses to “How I fixed the Broken Glass on my iPhone”

  1. nahom Says:

    Hi,
    im working on this project my self does the glass just peal off easily with a blade then you move the glue away with goo gone. also another question where did you find a LCD with a digitizer min works but i have no idea how it would brake to make sure i don’t brake it. in other words i dont know what to avoid doing when removing lass that would save the digitizer.

    -ns-2007

  2. erjon Says:

    lcd with digitizer for 50$.Where did you find it?i’m spendint 1 day on the net and the minimum price is 160$.

  3. thomas Says:

    Hi there I been trying to find a glass and digitizer for iphone 2g u know wher can get one besides ebay cause looked for it and cant find none just glass

  4. colink Says:

    $50 LCD and digitizer – I cannot find. Best I can find is $150+

    Does anyone know if it is possible to separate LCD from digitizer (to attach digitizer to a new outer glass) – I have read somewhere about heating in an oven to melt sylicone – but at what temperature?

    Any comments welcome.

    • excellent_magnificant Says:

      No–the glass alone is $50. Since posting the original message, the demand and thus the price has gone up significantly. The LCD/Digitizer/Glass comes as one entire unit, preassembled and ready for instant install. That will set you back $169. The silicone is what they use to affix the glass to the lcd/digitizer. I do not recommend placing it in the oven!!! The primary reason is that the silicone they use is heat-resistant up to a thousand degrees or more! Not to mention the other parts in there that you risk damaging.

    • Troubling Tribble Says:

      Hey-I wouldn’t recommend the oven thing. Reason being that the silicone they use to affix the glass to the digitizer is heat resistant to like 1000 degrees, or some insane temperature. Your best bet though is to use goo-gone instead–and a razor blade. It can be done–but you have to be very very very careful. I am seeing digitizer and glass sold together as one unit at about $169 at best. For that price, I’d just go get a new 3G for $199 if your contract is up for renewal.

  5. ronnie Says:

    Now how do we put it back together?

    thank you for the tutorial, I am going to need it!


  6. […] How I fixed the Broken Glass on my iPhone The Gadget Techie […]

  7. Luke Says:

    Okay… this is my first day checking into this, so I apologize if my questions are elementary. On the 3g, there is no question that the digitizer is attached to the outer glass, the part you touch. On the 2g, which is the first 8g iphone if I am right, the glass has nothing attached right? so if the glass on the outside is the only broken part, thats the only part I need to replace. correct?

    • Troubling Tribble Says:

      You are right on the 3G–but on the 2G, the same is true. The glass and digitizer/lcd unit are glued with crystal clear silicone apoxy liquid that is brushed on. The only way to get it off is to chip your way through, which I strongly advise not trying. Back in the day (err–several months ago), I posted on how to do it the “ghetto way”. Now, there are many people out there who will replace the digitizer/lcd/glass for a reasonable fee (between $100 and $180 dollars usually). There are many risks involved in doing this repair yourself–see Gary’s post about ribbons breaking and digitizers cracking. So to sum it up, there is no way on this green earth that you will be able to simply replace the glass. You need to go out and get yourself the complete 2G glass/lcd/digitizer unit (try http://www.pdaparts.com) and handle the repair that way, OR, send it off to a professional who does this sort of thing for a living.

  8. MacLover93 Says:

    I just purchased and iPhone 2G LCD for $25 on eBay. Do you think that includes the digitizer?

    • Troubling Tribble Says:

      Probably not, but you could send me a pic and I could tell you. If it’s the LCD and digitizer, you will see 2 cables attached, one for the LCD and another for the digitizer.


  9. This was a Great blog post, I will bookmark this post in my Del.icio.us account. Have a great day.

  10. troy nall Says:

    one thing, some screws are held in place with a product called “lock tight”.

    if you look at some of your screws, you will find that some are colored “blue”.

    this is a substance that one it dries, it keeps the screws from coming loose AND then you having to hear that “loose” screw sound from within your phone.

    if you cant find “lock tight” then you can get by with putting a very very small dab of clear finger nail polish on the screw AFTER you screw the screw in all the way. never over TORQUE the screw or u risk stripping the plastic threads !!!

  11. Bernd Vonau Says:

    Hi,

    just got rid of the old cracked glass from outside the complete iPhone 2G. I took a hairdryer and a numb kitchen knife. I ordered the glass for just EUR 7,55 and will glue it on top of the Digitizer/LCD Combo. I pressed a bit too hard on these parts, so now I have some dead pixels. But hey, I got an iPhone for 7,55 now.
    The procedure is difficult though, but I didn’t have the guts to take the phone apart.

    Good Luck

  12. guest Says:

    somebody has to open the iPhone and replace the digitizer. The cheapest way is to do it your self and you should get aways with around $70. The part is available on ebay. Here’s a iPhone Repair guide on how to disassemble an iPhone http://www.portatronics.com/guide. Maybe a tech savy friend can do it for you. If you want to pay to have a service do it for you there are third party iPod Repair Services such as iPhone Repair NYC.

  13. chris p. Says:

    well i really wished i would have stumbled on this blog before spending money on an outer glass for my 2g. i’m going to take it apart anyway because i just bought this phone cheap on ebay to teach myself with the help from sites like yours. thanks for posting this. it’s pretty sweet. the phone i bought is fully functional and i’m about to see “grren earth” haha! i’ll let you know how it goes.
    thanks


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