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Performing a little surgery

So recently I had the opportunity to perform a bit of surgery on an iPhone. A relative had accidentally dropped their iPhone 4, smashing the screen into a web of glass that even Spiderman would be proud of:

Spins a web, any size
Spins a web, any size

Getting it fixed by Apple meant buy a new phone. Other repair guys were giving us estimates of $90-130, sometimes even saying it would take a few days.

Well, nuts to that I say!

So I offered to just do the repair myself–being a huge fan of iFixit, I figured, what could go wrong? (And anyway there’s that iPhone 6 thing, so if I broke it I’m actually helping them to upgrade!)

I found this company out of California called iCracked. They seemed pretty reputable and offered kits at a decent price ($10 less than iFixit, plus free shipping). I ordered their iPhone 4 kit and set to work!

Catches thieves, just like flies
Catches thieves, just like flies

They provided all the necessary tools (and then some) in the kit. While I only needed the screwdrivers and the black and blue tools shown up there, it was nice having the other items just in case. I also needed a hairdryer to loosen the adhesive and a pair of tweezers get out smaller parts.

Is he strong? Listen bud—

One thing I really appreciated were the detailed flowchart they provided in addition to a very helpful YouTube video that you could follow along with.

Take a look overhead.
Take a look overhead.

The other nice thing was the flowchart provided places to put the screws and the various parts you removed. This was great since keeping track of where each of those tiny screws went would have been a nightmare otherwise!

Action is his reward.
Action is his reward.

And there we go! Getting everything out wasn’t too big a deal, though there were just a few areas with slightly heavier adhesive that made some rather unnerving cracking sounds.

I took off the old screen and replaced it with the new one, which was surprisingly easy. Just had some cables to watch out for and make sure they didn’t get pinched when feeding them through. Before really tightening everything in, I also did a quick test to make sure everything was working properly and I didn’t manage to break any of the major working parts.

Now the time is here for Iron Man to spread fear
Now the time is here
for Iron Man to spread fear

And it worked perfect! So it was time to seal it all back together and take some final shots with the new screen compared to the old one:

Life is a great big bang-up, Wherever there's a hang-up,
Life is a great big bang-up, Wherever there’s a hang-up
You'll find the Spiderman!
You’ll find the Spiderman!

And there we have it! All in all it probably took me about an hour and a half to do the entire repair (sliiiightly over the 45 minute~1 hour estimate).

It was a really fun project, and I definitely recommend you check out iCracked if you’re considering doing it yourself. For the price, I felt they provided a quality kit, good quality tools, and very clear instructions both on paper and in video. I particularly liked having the specially designated areas to place pieces on the step-by-step flowchart, it made the entire process a heck of a lot easier. I definitely recommend watching the video over reading the instructions, though, as it really helps to actually see what is going on.

And with that I saved my relative over $30 in repairs and learned a bit about how amazing smart-phone engineers are.

Plus, it was always fun to say「在手術中」(zài shǒushù zhōng; in surgery) to all my friends when they asked what they heck I was doing 🙂 (had to tie a Chinese lesson in here somewhere!)

Have you replaced your smartphone’s screen before? Let me know in the comments below!

8 thoughts on “Performing a little surgery”

  1. Well done! I did this years ago with a Palm Pilot, and although it worked (eventually) it was such a pain making everything fit when re-assembling that it took about 3 hours! I would have been too scared to do it with my iPhone, but you make it look so easy 🙂

    1. Thanks! Well, it was certainly a nerve-racking experience (especially since it was a relative’s phone not my own!), but it certainly was a lot of fun and I surprisingly didn’t break anything! So, yay!

      Was the screen broken on the Palm Pilot, or were you switching out something else?

  2. I was wondering where the Chinese was going to come into this then I saw 手術 at the end 😉

    I always use iFixIt when repairing or upgrading my Macbook. I swapped out the DVD drive for a hard drive last year and their guides were great. I also did an iPhone 3G battery a few years back.

    1. I had to shoehorn that Chinese lesson in, that’s for sure :p

      I love the idea that you upgraded your Macbook that way. I’m almost wondering if I can do that with my iMac, because it’s really just a super smart idea–and I hardly use the DVD drive anymore anyway!

  3. i just order the same screen for iphone4. but already a week since i order and DHL today call me asking what inside the package beause icracked only wrote “iphone4”
    is that happen to you too? how long since you order till you get the package, and, DHL call you too?
    i wanna make sure i didn’t get any problem with the clearance. Thanks

    1. well I did all mine in the US, so I didn’t have to deal with international shipping. I have heard of issues with items getting through because of what was written on the package. Did you eventually get it figured out? I hope it got through to you okay!

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