'how to' swap iphone housings...

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by mdwsta4, Jul 27, 2007.

  1. mdwsta4 macrumors 65816

    Jul 23, 2007
    since the iphone was originally announced i always wished it was black. when i picked one up the first weekend they were released i thought about powdercoating my back to make it black. luckily, CNN.cn came out with replacement silver and black metal housings to save me the trouble! well, not really. as i'm sure many people have seen already in the below thread how the results look, no where really offers a how-to do it!

    there are a handful of sites that show how to take the iphone apart, but nowhere actually shows how to remove all the delicate pieces from the rear housing. i've swapped housings on a number of different phones, but have never run into one as complicated and delicate as the iphone. so that everyone doesn't ruin their new toy, i'll try to walk you through the process here. i'm going to jump right into the housing assuming that you've already taken it off. if you don't know how to do that, google search and read one of the half dozen sites that show you how.
    Parts you will need:
    new housing
    super tiny philips screwdriver. the one i found at Ace hardware didn't even have a number on it. all i know is that '0' was not small enough.
    small flat head screwdriver
    adhesive remover
    super glue/adhesive

    once you get the back off you'll be looking at this:

    note the location of screws and where things are glued to. i would suggest labeling all the tiny screws so you know exactly where they go because they are NOT all the same size. i took a lot of pictures throughout the process so i could reference exactly where everything went when i was ready to put it all back together.

    once you remove all the screws and electronic components you'll be left with the metal skeleton of the oringal housing. quite honestly, this is the hardest part about the swap.

    the skeleton is glued on by some crazy hard cement type glue. i couldn't seem to find anything to take it off so i finally went to Home Depot and picked up the strongest adhesive remover i could fine. this one removes concrete and flooring so i thought it'd do the trick!

    next pour the solvent on the skeleton ensuring you get it in all the cracks. let it sit for about 20 -30 minutes after it's done it's job and using the smallest flat blade screwdirver you have slowly pry away the skeleton. be careful as these parts are extremely brittle. i cracked quite a few parts of it before i got this solvent and realized the 'proper' way to do it.
    when you're finished you're left with this:
    actually, i think there are a few pieces missing from that pic, but you get the idea.

    the housing will then be stripped bare with nothing left on it
    as you can see, before i went the super strong solvent route, i tried prying the crap out of the parts which bent a number of points of my original housing. no turning back now!

    once everything is taken apart, cleaned, and dried, it's time to put it back together. i refrenced the photos i took earlier to ensure everything was put back in the proper place. i used superglue, but you could really use anything you wanted to hold everything in place. if you've gotten this far, you should realize how to put it back together

    then it's simply a matter of putting the housing back on the phone and...
    voila! an all black iphone

    for the sim card cover i sprayed SEM trim black paint so it matched the housing.



    just a few of the many... out with the old, in with the new

    in hexproject's thread he mentions it took him 3 horus and people balked at him thinking it should only take 30 minutes. you people have no idea what you're talking about. i spanned it out over two days before/after work and finals. i'm sure it took me close to 3 hours as well. i had to run back and forth a few times to get the right parts.
    the end result is just what i was looking for! i did, however, mess up one part and that was the silent/ring switch. i must not have noted which position it was on when i took it all apart and now it's stuck on vibrate! frustrating, but i guess i'll have to deal with it. i really don't feel like taking the phone apart again. anyone know if there's anyway to turn on the ringer another way than that damn switch?!
    other than that, i hope the post was helpful. comments are always welcomed.


    mods, if there's anyway i can include all the pictures, please let me know.
  2. dphamily macrumors newbie

    Jul 15, 2007
    you're crazy and you have more balls then my son, son's son, and i have combined.

    great job though.
  3. powerocool macrumors 6502


    Jun 5, 2007
    Amazing pictures. That was some crazy work you did!
  4. Tetraeon macrumors newbie

    Jul 29, 2007
    Warning re: adhesive remover

    Thanks for the How-To!

    The screwdriver should be phillips size 000.

    I would add that if you use the adhesive remover, don't get it anywhere near the plastic volume and silent/ringer switches, it will destroy them! I now have a little hole where my silent/ringer switch used to be.
  5. tjespo22 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 27, 2007
    Staten Island NY
    Great writeup. We need more ppl like you lol. I personally am happy with the silver but the black does look good!

    Congrats on being prob 1 of the first if not the first
  6. mdwsta4 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jul 23, 2007
    thanks and you're welcome.
    so is your phone stuck on ring? or stuck on vibrate now?

    thanks, although now CNN has the silver backing with all the skeleton attached which would make the swap a sinch!

  7. Tetraeon macrumors newbie

    Jul 29, 2007
    actually with the plastic piece removed, I can still switch it between silent and ring if I get in there with a paperclip (had to rip the plastic piece out of the little hole to expose the switch once I realized it wasn't flipping it).

    thanks for the heads up on silver back w/ skeleton attached, bought it... thinking about just taking the plastic pieces out to replace in the black back. really wish they weren't stuck between the case and the skeleton tho.. they need to sell black back with skeleton

    also, I wish I had a replacement for the plastic antenna shield, mine seems not to fit precisely—there is a gap on the left side between it and the black metal back, plus the edge was damaged by my attempts at removing it the first time :(
  8. Mac-Addict macrumors 65816


    Aug 30, 2006
    "Americas Number 1 Stripper Brand" Made me laugh.
    But brave brave dude, I wouldnt dare take a part my iPhone (If I had one, DAMN You Apple bring out the bloody iPhone in the UK already!)
  9. fastbite macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2007
    All this work and I'm sorry to say but it looks pretty bad and pointless. Make it pink!
  10. 33scottie33 macrumors regular

    Aug 24, 2006
  11. Yankees 4 Life macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2007
    College Station, Tx
    enjoy the logo the size of texas on the back....
  12. Cybergypsy macrumors 68040


    May 16, 2006
    Central Florida!
  13. Agentmckay macrumors newbie

    Jul 1, 2007
    The logo is the same size and can be painted to match so you would not even see it. The page you link to stands out since the apple logo is painted a contrasting color. And those colors are nasty, I'd go with all black or carbon.
  14. mackensteff macrumors member

    Feb 11, 2006
    I think they were referring

    to the colorware logo on the back
  15. mashinhead macrumors 68030

    Oct 7, 2003
    dunno if i like the black housing. Maybe it looks better in person. I think it's because the black of the bottom doesn't match perfectly. Plus it looks a little too complicated to put on.
  16. Manatee macrumors 6502a


    Oct 20, 2003
    Washington DC
    Wow! That's amazing. I'd be lucky to get one working iPhone out of every twelve attempts.
  17. DopestGingah macrumors regular

    Apr 24, 2007
    Does anybody know where to get a silver (matching) piece for the bottom black piece?
  18. mdwsta4 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jul 23, 2007
    i had colorware paint my old non-color ipod back in the day. while it was a quality job, it was expensive then, and about triple the price to do the iphone. plus i really don't think you can compare paint to anodized metal.

    the pictures were taken in a lightbox with a flash being bounced right on top of the phone. unless you have a direct light hitting the phone, the two materials looks identical and you can't tell the difference. but keep in mind one is plastic while the other is metal so i suppose it would be nearly impossible to get them to match 'perfectly'.

  19. Compile 'em all macrumors 601

    Compile 'em all

    Apr 6, 2005
  20. jasonsmith macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2007
    I'm impressed, was thinking about doing the same. Do you think heat will work to loosen the Apple adhesive? I have a very nice tiny micro torch that would do the trick. Would need to stay clear of the buttons though :eek:

    Wish someone would sell the black cover ready to go...
  21. mdwsta4 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jul 23, 2007
    i tried heating it up as well, hoping that maybe it would melt the adhesive, or make it more pliable, but no luck. i tried nearly a half dozen methods to remove the adhesive and the stripper solution was the only one that worked.

  22. carfac macrumors 65816


    Feb 18, 2006
    Call me crazy- or just plain LAZY, but what is the NEED to do the inside? If you just mask it and do the outside ONLY, no need for strippers, and a heck of a lot less complicated (what with all those tiny parts to bend, break or loose possibly).

    What am I missing? What does the inside have to be done?
  23. mdwsta4 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jul 23, 2007
    if you don't have the metal skeleton, what's going to hold the back on? or the hold/power switch, sim card slot, volume buttons, and camera lens?
    don't really see how it would be possible to do any other way.

  24. KYBOSH macrumors member

    Jun 2, 2007
  25. oskflores macrumors newbie

    Nov 13, 2007
    Suggestions and Questions!!!!!!

    I did it! BUT.......... am a fool because I did left the buttons while using the remover! I completly messed up my vibrate/silent button (plastic) and to top it off as I tried to toggle it with a clip the damm piece broke!

    Question for all of you who are experieced:
    1) I found a person who sells the actual buttons (not the assembly)... should i purchased them? And would taking the black cover be easier than the first time? I ruined the silver... don't want to do that to this one!
    2) So because I broke the toggle switch I think it's stuck in silent..... therefore when anyone calls I can't get it to ring out loud... DOES ANYONE KNOW HOW TO WORK AROUND THIS PROBLEM?

    Suggestions for those doing this:
    1. Dont be lazy, go to the store and buy everything you need: small razor blade (exacto), phillips small screw driver, remover, and try to purchase some patience.
    2. DONT LEAVE THE BUTTONS WHEN YOU SINK THE SILVER COVER IN THE REMOVER...... I AM STUPIED because I know what removers do, i was just too excited about my new cover to think straight.
    3. DONT DO THIS IF YOU DONT HAVE A WHOLE DAY FREE, i took me forever!
    4. Make sure when you glue them back (OH AVOID SUPER GLUE, i used it but i got me in some trouble, try the gel it probably works better) make sure the cable that holds all the switches dosent get damaged, i noticed that when the little motor (rotating next to the vibrate button) dosent have room to move it will stop your buttons from working!!!!

    Hope this helps and hope someone can help me! Thanks

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