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!