Some Penny-Pinching Tips for DIY iPhone Repairs
In DIY repairs, knowing where to start -- that is, which parts and tools you need -- is essential. Otherwise, you might be in for a lot of costly trial and error that can defeat one of the main points of doing it yourself, which is to save money. Customer service is important for this exact reason. If you are ordering parts or tools and are unclear about what you need, call the seller.
Feb 22, 2011 5:00 AM PT
In the world of DIY, self-help repairs can get dicey quick. The problems are not always with the ability to do the repair itself successfully -- but doing so with real savings.
Having extra parts lying around is a big help, but if you have to make a purchase, it's critical to know what you really need to buy.
With the iPhone 3GS, the earpiece speaker can often go bad. The reasons vary, depending on what the damage was to begin with, but regardless, there are not many pieces involved. There is the flex cable, speaker and bracket.
Buy them all together and you can spend up to US$20, possibly with a couple of tools included -- not a horrible deal.
However, considering the prices of the individual parts, the savings can be significant if you buy only what you need.
On the speaker itself, there are two connectors that stick out. Make sure they are not broken or bent, because they have to fit onto the flex cable, which sits on top of the speaker.
The 3GS speaker pictured here had a bad flex cable. We were able to test out a spare part, which resulted in the speaker working correctly. Our repair cost $2 -- not $20.
Take Advantage of ServiceThere are other problems that can be met through a variety of approaches.
For example, with the iPhone 4, a broken digitizer results in a bad LCD because they are glued together. That means if you break it, you've got to buy both parts.
Most people sell them together and assembled, but there is an option to buy them separately.
This leads many people to assume that a broken glass screen works with the LCD.
When they manually attach the two, however, they realize the LCD is ruined after separation.
At this point, they may have a bad replacement digitizer and a big mess.
I'll take a guess for entertainment purposes that 10 percent of the people who attempt a DIY repair for the screen make this mistake.
Typically, the best thing to do in this situation is to buy the assembled parts in a package, which is different from the first example.
Customer service is important for these exact reasons. If you are ordering parts and are unclear about what to do, call the seller.
The Right Stuff
The right tools are essential to repair as well. There has been some controversy over the Verizon iPhone's pentalobe screws that require a new screwdriver to get the job done.
This requires a new purchase and is generally thought of as a pain, even if there is logic behind the move.
The Mini Torx screw driver is an essential tool for opening almost any smartphone. If you don't have the right screwdriver, you can't properly dissect the phone.
More common tools include the plastic pry tools that come with a variety of DIY Kits. These tools are terrible and are good for about one use at a time. The bad pry tools are usually light blue.
If you plan on repairing a phone more than once, looking for tools that are harder plastic and double-edged is a good idea. These will last and are better overall.