3G Home Button - My Experience with Apple

Discussion in 'iPhone Tips, Help and Troubleshooting' started by marphone, Oct 28, 2009.

  1. marphone macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2009
    Hello everyone. I wanted to create this thread to maybe help others with this problem. My home button on my iPhone 3g simple stopped working, and after many hours of searching online for answers, the only real advice I could find was to take it back... so I did, here's what I found. Hopefully, this can help anyone searching for this topic.

    I brought the phone to the apple store and was told I would receive a replacement due to hardware malfunction, except one of the water sensors (the one in the bottom plug in) was red, effectively voiding my entire warranty. I was not happy, I had never gotten my phone wet, and the water sensor is very easy to see, one single rain drop could set it off, even if it causes no damage to the phone.

    So I had a half functional phone, and no warranty. I decided to open it up and see if there was anything obvious inside, after all, what did I have to loose? Once I split the phone in two and separated the two halves, I looked around for a long time before noticing a small piece of metal laying inside. It took me a while to figure out where it came from. Below are pictures of the piece I found. The picture you are looking at is near the backside of the home button, the two small contacts are like little springs that, when the two halves of the phone come together, make contact with a circuit board on the other side, for the home button to function.


    Obviously without this little spring in place, there is no contact with the other side and the home button will not work. Here it is on my finger to show you how small it is.


    So there you have it. Water damage? Not a chance... And I am not rough with my phone, it is in pristine condition. I found many people online with the same issues. This is obviously a weak point in the design, and I am not the first. I was lucky enough to spot the little piece, its so small it could have easily found its way out the bottom port.

    I did fix the phone, so anyone searching for info about this issue if you're in the same boat as me, can see the pics below for how I did it.


    So if your comfortable using a soldering iron, and have steady hands, just make a small "chocolate chip" of solder on the broken contact, and then use a pair of very small cutters to trim it down to size to match the height of the missing spring contact. It will work perfectly.

    By the way, last apple product I ever purchase. Apple disappointed me big time with this situation. I feel their zero tolerance policy on the water sensors is completely ridiculous. They are far too easy to get even the slightest moisture on them. There are a total of 4 water sensors inside the phone, and the remaining 3 were not triggered, and as you can see there was no moisture whatsoever inside the bottom of the phone where that sensor was triggered, it was actually very clean other than some dust.

    Thanks for reading!
  2. -aggie- macrumors P6


    Jun 19, 2009
    Where bunnies are welcome.
    Thanks for the good pics and for providing a method for fixing the home button should this ever happen to one of us. I know the water sensor stuff sucks, but at least you fixed it.
  3. Kiddee macrumors newbie

    Oct 19, 2009
    how about the 2G's Home button, mine sometimes work, sometimes doesn't. their design seems to be different, isn't it?
  4. marphone thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2009
    Not sure, never looked inside a 2g. But these springs could explain why some peoples buttons only work sometimes, if they weaken and dont quite make contact.
  5. kAoTiX macrumors 6502


    Oct 14, 2008
    Midlands, UK
    I'll vouch for these pins being a pain in the butt.
    I repair iPods and iPhones and we find that they are so small and therefore so delicate that users somehow (like yourself) manage to snap them off.

    You can actually find that pressure on the top of the phone will cause it to be pushed down more than usual, once the pressure has been released it will either spring back or will be stuck down.

    I cannot remember off hand what the 2G construction is like but most of them are the same where the home button construct is attached to the glass and then pressed onto the contact on the phone's main body creating the connection for the button to work. If people find it becoming unresponsive or not working at all, it's actually quite easy to fix as long as you can open up the device properly without damaging anything else.

    We do plenty of these repairs and find they have either snapped off or been bent down all the way that the connection is no longer made.

    The OP mentioned his water sensor was tripped. This could be the cause of yours snapping off. If water sits on that connector and causes it to become brittle it will snap off far more easily. - Also, you could have used a small piece of wire to make a more springy connection rather than a blob of solder. Just a thought though.

    Good info and pics as well.
  6. marphone thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2009
    This is incorrect. Water sitting on metal does not cause it to become brittle unless the metal is heated to an extreme temperature before being exposed to water, and this connector would never get that hot. Your referring to the process of heat treating, which really cannot apply inside a phone...

    Not only that, but its unlikely water got into this area, the water sensor can be seen with the phone closed, its quite open to the elements, while this connector is up inside the phone a ways and is covered.

    I still see this connector as a weak point in the design.
  7. kAoTiX macrumors 6502


    Oct 14, 2008
    Midlands, UK
    I didn't mean in a tempered way, I meant in the fact that the water causes the metal to rust like a car body does. It becomes softer than normal.

    You can quite easily 'pour' water through the headphone jack, try it. lol
    Not only does the end of the headphone jack have a hole in it, but it will also leak past the plastic outter part and around the casing.
    There is also the huge dock connector that really has no protection if water gets around that.
  8. marphone thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2009
    Haha I dont think I will try that, Ill take your word for it.
  9. kAoTiX macrumors 6502


    Oct 14, 2008
    Midlands, UK
    Thats why it's always good to have dead iPhones lying around to try things with :D You should see the one where I stripped the 'black' off the back of the digitizer. Looks insane.

    Pouring water in them is fun too, especially if they partially work so you can see them die :(
  10. jjsmith macrumors newbie

    Nov 5, 2009
    BIG thank you!!!

    marphone - thank you so very much for taking the time to post these instructions & pics.

    Home button stopped working on my 1yr + 4month old iPhone 3G. No water damage, no tripped sensors. Apple wanted $200 to fix it, AT&T wanted $400 to upgrade now, or use my crippled phone for 2 more months and qualify for "early upgrade" at $200.

    My phone had the exact same problem, even the exact same contact broken off. This is product issue and I'll be sending apple a link to this thread in my case#.

    I followed the repair as shown and my home button is now working again. THANK YOU again marphone, I would not have had a clue had you not taken the time!!!


    PS: Here a couple of additional tips.
    #1 After removing the 2 screws in the bottom of the phone, place a suction cup on the front of the screen, down by the home button to lift the the phone apart without prying on the chrome seal.

    #2 Workaround for a busted home button (other than rebooting)
    Set a passcode in Settings->General and then when you want to close an app/return to the home screen
    • press the sleep/power button to sleep (not power off)
    • press the sleep/power button to wake and you'll see the screen for your passcode
    • don't enter your passcode yet, press "Emergency Call"
    • on the Emergency Call screen, don't dial anything, just press the back <- button
    • now enter your passcode and you'll be taken to the home screen and the open application will be closed

    If it sounds like a pain in the butt, it is - "there out to be an app for that." But it's easier/faster than powering down and back on every time you want to switch apps.
  11. fskywalker macrumors 65816


    Nov 6, 2009
    Pictures are gone! Please re-post

    Hi Marphone, could you re-post the pictures or send them to my e-mail (francisco540@gmail.com). I have the same problems on my daughter's Iphone and want to give it a try.


  12. 3zékiel macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2009
    Hi there !

    I can't see the pictures too, can you please repost them, I'm going to try your method too, but it would be better with the photos :)
  13. marphone thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2009
    woops, sorry guys I must have deleted them from my webspace... they are still on my camera, ill redo them over the weekend and post them again.
  14. marphone thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2009
    hey no problem, i am glad it helped someone else in that situation. i also used the suction cup method, works very well and causes no damage.
  15. lambo macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2008
    Hi, I'm actually missing that exact piece also! I'm confused on how to fix it though.
    Since I don't have the piece anymore, what should I do? I don't know how to solder either....
  16. jjsmith macrumors newbie

    Nov 5, 2009
    Don't need the piece, do need to know how to solder

    Lambo - you do not need the original piece to make the repair as illustrated above. The "chip" of solder is the replacement for the original tab that has broken off. I can't offer any better advice/instruction than the fine pictorial from the person who started this thread. Print it out - it will be pretty obvious how to proceed with the repair when you find someone who can solder. The material around the pad that you need to solder to can be damaged by heat if you don't know what you are doing.

    Also, I wanted to let everyone know that this repair hasn't 100% restored the phone to new. My home button still flakes out at least once a day, but a few love taps usually gets it working again. Preferable to no home button at all and probably due to my rusty soldering skills, but it could be helped by something that has more flexibility to it than just the solder. I wasn't able to get a good contact & position with a small piece of wire and had to revert to the "chip" by itself.
  17. marphone thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2009
    Thats too bad, make sure its high enough to make contact all the time!

    Just for an update for anyone following this, mine has been working 100% since I made this thread. No probs whatsoever.
  18. iT0ll macrumors newbie

    Jan 12, 2010
    Venice CA USA
    marphone & jjsmith, appreciate the knowledge!

    good eye marphone!
    after 2 weeks of No home button,I couldnt take it no more & I started poking around the net and came upon your post. So I popped open the 3G and as you showed in your GREAT Macro Pics, the same exact pin was broken off in my phone as well ! So now I have a solution, just have to get the sottering bits together. Once again Brilliant post, this is what the forums are all about!
    just out of curiosity what kind of cuttter do you use for such small work?
    thanks for great tip on how to work around the No home button dilema, it's been driving me nutz! Another brilliant post!
    Thanks Folks!
  19. marphone thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2009
    Thanks for the comments. I used a very small pair of nail scissors for the final clip. You should be able to find a solid pair at any drug store.
  20. kAoTiX macrumors 6502


    Oct 14, 2008
    Midlands, UK
    To update people on a slight change, the 3GS home button has longer more pointy connectors. No real difference, but I think they may be more durable.
  21. tombenn macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2010
    Before going to all this trouble it's worth tapping your phone a couple of times on a desk - I think this has been suggested previously, but it worked for me. If something's broken this won't fix it, but if it's just fluff from your pocket in there, it may...
  22. ccnz macrumors newbie

    Jan 24, 2010
    wow exact same problem on my one month old 3G.

    Home button just stopped working.

    I opened the iphone up and sure enought the little contact had broken off and disappeared completely.

    I grabbed an old wire I had laying round and peeled back the plastic.
    I then cut off a section of these copper wires and made a little contact ball about the size of the missing part and just glued that in place.

    Works fine now but shame on Apple as that's crappy build quality.

    Big thanks to Marphone the original poster who posted the photos up top.

    I came across this as I was googling the home button connectors to see if mine was indeed missing one or it was meant to have only one.
    I saw his phot and confirmed mine was missing.
  23. creon macrumors 6502

    Mar 19, 2009
    Damn water sensors. They really need to find a way to separate the ones who submerge their phones and are looking for a replacement to those of us who take care of them like children!
  24. amc30 macrumors newbie

    Jan 30, 2010
    To the OP: THANK YOU!

    My (3G) iPhone's home button stopped working a couple days ago due to the exact problem described above. This is just about the only tutorial online concerning this problem. I opened up the phone, and, hands shaking, managed to solder a small chip onto the contact patch as described.

    This is probably the most precise soldering I've ever done - I wasn't incredibly confident that I'd be able to pull it off. If you're not steady or you don't have much experience soldering, take the phone to an electronics repair shop or find a friend with a fair amount of experience.

    My home button is now working again! No pricey repairs from Apple, no replacement parts. Again, my gratitude! (I actually signed up for the forum just to send along the message.)
  25. drbubbles macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2009
    Another happy home button...

    Thanks Marphone! Looks like you've found a neat solution to a common and very annoying problem. I took mine apart and saw the flat pad next to the one with a spring and it was so clean I didn't think it was broken until I saw your post.

    This is the second time I've had to do surgery on my iPhone. The first was to replace the GPS antenna (after finding I could only got cell tower triangulation and restoring several times I finally gave in and bought one on ebay for about 15 bucks). At the time the "genius" told me it would be $200 bucks. Funnily enough, his GPS didn't work either, but as I was out of warranty they couldn't give a toss.

    Apple after sales support really is a joke. They give no option for the end user to avoid the "$200 fine" as they never actually fix anything at the genius bar and there is no such thing as an authorized Apple spare parts supplier!

    My experience with the Apple Genius bar reminded me of the Monty Python cheese shop; it really was laughable.

    Nice one Marphone!

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