My wife’s iPhone is on duty 24h a day and most of the time in places where it better should not be: loosely flying around in a handbag among a few million other things, on the floor in the supermarket, in our little one’s hands, somewhere on the playground… So it was time for a new back cover, as the corners had started falling of and revealed the precious inside parts closed to the dock connector. A replacement phone would have cost 270 CHF, the replacement of the cover 190 CHF, both amounts that I found unreasonable at this time so we went for a pick up a new shell and DIY approach for 30 CHF.
I used the ifixit guide at http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Repair/Installing-iPhone-3G-Rear-Panel/583/1 to go through the dissection. I did check the required steps before but I totally underestimated the size of the pieces and the density of technology. A lot of parts are held in place by adhesive tape and jam or are glued to the cover. Once you come passed the “Do not remove” sticker covering one of the screws holding the main unit inside the cover you start understanding the deeper meaning behind those words. But after about 2 hours the phone is back together and working. Looks like new. Quite a rewarding moment, when the Apple logo comes on after resetting the phone. Above is a picture of some of the tools involved. More pictures of the project here.
So, should you be doing this at home? If you think you know what you are doing – don’t do it. If you know what you are doing and you are not sure about the tools – don’t do it. If you know what you are doing and you are willing to take the risk and if you like playing with micro mechanics and electronics, just do it.
Addition to the ifixit guide: My replacement part was only the back cover, no front bezel. So I had to remove the glued bezel from the old one. Also, my cover was missing a hole for the screw holding the black plastic spacer that is used to lift the SIM compartment. This hole and winding had to be threaded in manually.