Please Help Troubleshoot DYI iPhone 4 Repair

Discussion in 'iPhone Tips, Help and Troubleshooting' started by Ponta, Jun 10, 2012.

  1. Ponta macrumors newbie


    Apr 7, 2012
    Yeah, I know--I shoulda had it fixed. I decided to risk it because I'll be getting an iPhone 5 when it comes out and can do with a loaner POS till then. And, I wanted to advance in dweebhood by gaining a little practical experience at this. And yeah, I'm a twit. Granted.

    For now, I would greatly appreciate advice on what to do. Let me spell out all the details so you can see where I stand.

    Story: I cracked my iPhone 4 from glass panel. Got a replacement part, took iPhone apart, tried to fit screen on...and discovered it was the screen for an iPhone 4*S*. Didn't know the difference (top corner screw brackets the giveaway) and error was seller's; order page, invoice, and box were marked "4" and not 4S.

    So I had to wait 2 days with a disassembled iPhone (covered or bagged parts while waiting), got the right part from another seller (got a refund for the wrong one), and put the phone back together. I don't think the wait affected anything, but felt I should mention it anyway.

    It worked. Screen OK. Reception fine. All parts functioned.

    For the rest of the day.

    I plugged it in to recharge overnight (relevant?). The next morning, the screen showed black. Touchscreen worked, I could use it blind, but no pixels showed up. When turned on, the backlight (?) turned on, you could see slightly lighter shade of black, but no picture.

    After evaluation, I considered a few things that went wrong in the initial repair.

    #1: Front glass was not flush with case. Found this out only after it was reassembled. Slight backlight light leak visible from side.

    #2: As there were no instructions, as no tutorials mentioned this, and as I am (as noted) a twit, I did not remove the blue plastic backing from the new LCD part, the one with the little tab at the bottom right. I was wondering why it was blue and not silver, but thought it was a maker variant and did not want to remove something that might be necessary. It might have contributed to #1 on this list. When I disassembled, it came off partially as it stuck to the frame a bit. Also, a bit of black rubber from the bottom of the LCD came off with it. I assumed that was not vital, but maybe that was what caused the touchscreen to fail? I have no idea. Alternately, maybe the extended pressure from the plastic backing wore at the screen and trashed it by morning.

    #3: Small rubber part dropped off, had no idea from where. Looked like it would have been impossible to track down, so I left it out (remember, I *know* I'm a twit). Turns out it was from top of motherboard. I suspect this may have fried my LCD cables, as, assembled, this part is between the edge of the motherboard and the LCD cables. (Web sites I found later claim it is to improve reception).

    #4: Motherboard did not fit back in 100% properly. When reassembling, the two small hooks on the EMI shield with the 5 screws did not latch in right. The outside one did, that is, but the middle one would not reach. I probably was stupid to let it go like that, so consider myself (on this as well as on the other frack-ups) self-chastised.

    Other possible factors: the vertical LCD tab was stiff and hard to hold down and the first time I tried, I had the devil's own time trying to get it into place. I did not see any physical damage, but wonder if pressure while placing it wrong trying to plug it in may be a culprit. I doubt it, though, as it worked for several hours after the initial repair.

    I think that's it.

    So, I took it apart and re-assembled it, aiming to fix the snafus.

    After the second repair, I had (1) made sure the glass was flush with the case; (2) took off the blue plastic backing from the LCD; (3) reattached the rubber bit on the MB; and (4) made sure the EMI shield fit perfectly. Everything went back in exactly as it should have, as far as I could tell.

    I started it up, and... almost the same as before. Black screen with slight brightening of backlight--but this time, the touch screen didn't work, either.

    My own guess is that either problem #1 (the rubber from the MB) or #2 (not removing the blue plastic backing from the LCD) are the most likely culprits.

    On the other hand, I can confirm that the phone seems to operate: I can receive calls (I just can't answer them), meaning that the iPhone, apparently, is functional aside from the screen. Meaning that possibly it's just a matter of getting another LCD screen.


    That's where I am now. I am not hip on getting an official repair, too expensive where I am (Tokyo), especially for the few months left before a new phone comes out. So, my options are:

    #1: disassemble and try to reassemble again, hoping that there is still something that can be fixed (i.e., pipe dream scenario)

    #2: assuming the problem is only with the screen, order new LCD screen, repair again (i.e., risky but practical)

    #3: try #1, rinse and repeat if for no other reason than for practice, and when nothing works, get a cheapo POS loaner replacement from my carrier and wait for iPhone 5.

    #4: something I have not thought of.

    Any advice is appreciated, just so as you know that I already am aware that I'm an overconfident twit for trying my hand at DIY in the first place.


  2. Ponta thread starter macrumors newbie


    Apr 7, 2012
    OK, Weird...

    As I wrote above, the screen cracked.

    I replaced the front LCD with some poor work involved. Screen worked for the evening, then failed the next morning. Image was gone, but touchscreen worked.

    I took it apart and put it back together, better. Then the LCD didn't work and the touchscreen failed.

    That was where I was at when I posted the above.

    Today, I decided to try something to test whether I should get a new LCD: After confirming that the new LCD wasn't functioning, I opened up the back, unplugged the battery, took off the EMI shield, and then unplugged the two LCD cables ONLY.

    Then I plugged in my old, cracked screen (which still functioned) and plugged the battery back in, and without any further disassembly, turned on the phone. The cracked screen worked, so I assumed that the issue was purely with the new LCD. So I unplugged the old screen, plugged all the existing parts back together, and closed the case.

    For fun, I turned on the phone again.

    The new LCD worked, screen and touch panel. The phone is now like new, fully operational.

    I am happy, but confused. I swear that I changed nothing, and the LCD connectors were plugged in firmly before and after. In fact, I thought it would be worse: the small gold screw holder atop the EMI shield came off, and I had to cram it back on; furthermore, the bottom middle screw for the shield failed to stay in (stripped?), so I left it out, it's still on my desk.

    I guess now I wait and see if it fails again.

    Weird.... :confused:

    Afterthought: this seems to confirm my general Apple Voodoo Product Repair Strategy: open it up, take it apart, reassemble, wiggle stuff, and it should work again. :cool:

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