Between our news coverage leading up to the iPhone 5, our definitive review of the iPhone 5 following its release, and iOS 6, there's only one thing left to do -- open it up and show you what the iPhone 5 looks like on the inside!
That's right, iMore has teamed up with The Pod Drop to show you how to take apart a brand new iPhone 5, and even replace a cracked or broken screen if you're somehow not covered by AppleCare or warranty, now or in the future.
Sacrificing an iPhone 5 for science
Fortunately, none of us were clumsy enough to break our iPhones by accident (yet!). Unfortunately, that means in order to show you how the DIY repair is done, we had to break one on purpose. We captured the moment. (Purely for science, of course.)
Disclaimer: As with any repair, neither iMore nor The Pod Drop can be held responsible for any damage you may do to your device. It’s also worth considering that opening up your device to perform any repair or modification can and will void your Apple warranty. If you don’t feel comfortable opening your device, don’t. Use extreme care and caution when performing a repair on any device.
What you need to DIY replace a cracked screen on an iPhone 5
- iPhone 5 with a cracked display (Any model)
- iPhone 5 LCD & digitizer replacement - Coming soon!
- Suction cup - Buy now
- 5-point pentalobular (security) screwdriver - Buy now
- Standard #00 Phillips screwdriver - Buy now
- Spudger tool - Buy now
- Razor blade - Buy now (You can also use any straight edge razor blade you pick up at your local hardware store.)
Our video will walk you through disassembly to reassembly. Even though it's possible to perform this repair using only the video, we highly suggest reading the written walkthrough and viewing the high quality images below. Both guides are meant to compliment each other so we suggest reading and watching both before actually performing the repair.
Power off your iPhone 5
Before performing any repair, you should always turn your iPhone completely off by holding down the Power Button and using the Slide to power off feature. Once the iPhone has completely turned off, you can move on to the next step.
Remove the two security screws in the dock connector
There are two security screws on either side of the Lightning connector port. Use your security screwdriver to remove them.
Remove the damaged display
There are two methods for removing the display. If you've cracked the bottom pretty badly you may find it hard to get a seal with a suction cup. We'll walk you through both ways of removing the display.
Suction cup method
This is the method we recommend and the one you should use if you can get a seal. If not, use the straight edge razor method below.
- Position your suction cup firmly above the Home button.
- Gently pull upwards while holding the phone down with your other hand.
- The display is in there pretty good so you'll have to apply quite a bit of strength to pull it out. Just make sure you keep your hand over the top of the iPhone as you don't want to completely pull the display off. There are still cables attached underneath.
- Once the display has dislodged from the device, swing it upwards to expose the cables connecting it underneath.
- Move on to the next section.
Straight edge razor blade method
If the bottom of your iPhone 5 screen has shattered badly, it'll be next to impossible to get a good enough seal to pry it up. You'll need a straight edged razor blade for this method. Be careful and work slowly not only so you don't damage the iPhone but more importantly, so you don't cut or hurt yourself.
- Start at either side of the Home button and carefully work the razor blade between the frame and the glass.
- Slowly pry upwards until you get an edge freed enough that you can slip a pry tool or spudger in between.
- Now set the razor blade aside and continue to work around the bottom and bottom edges until you free the display from the frame.
- Do not pull it straight upwards but instead, swing it upwards as there are still cables attached at the top we need to remove.
Remove the iPhone 5 display panel
- There's a silver shield covering the LCD and digitizer cables. Remove the three screws holding the shield in place with your #00 Phillips screwdriver.
- Gently lift the shield out of the iPhone 5.
- Now you have a clear view of the cables holding the display assembly to the logic board. Use your spudger or pry tool to carefully pry all three cables from the logic board.
You can now lift the front digitizer and LCD assembly off the device.
Ready the new iPhone 5 display
Odds are your new replacement display will come stripped down to nothing but the display assembly. We'll need to remove some pieces off the old cracked display to place on the new display before laying the new assembly in place.
Remove the display shield, earpiece shield, and earpiece assembly
- There are a total of eight screws holding the display and earpiece shield in place. They are outlined in the picture below. Remove all eight screws using your #00 Phillips screwdriver.
- Now use your pry tool or spudger to carefully lift up the display shield off the back of the display. The best way is to slip your pry tool beneath the shield at the bottom on either side of the Home button. The shield will easily lift off.
- Now remove the earpiece shield at the top by lifting it off and setting it aside.
- The actual earpiece assembly sits directly below the shield and will easily lift off as well. Set it aside.
Remove the front-facing camera and sensor cable
- The front-facing camera and sensor cable sits to the left of where the earpiece assembly was and lines the top of the device. We need to remove it.
- Carefully lift it up but notice the kink in the cable underneath the front-facing camera. The noise canceling mic is pushed into the display assembly. Pop it out carefully.
- The rest of the cable is only held in with a tiny bit of adhesive. Carefully peel it back to finish removing the cable from the display assembly.
Remove the Home button assembly
- Remove the two screws on either side of the Home button assembly using your #00 Phillips screwdriver.
- Start lifting the Home button shield starting on the left side but don't pull completely up yet.
- On the right hand side you'll see a contact that's stuck to the display assembly that runs on the Home button shield. Use your finger or pry tool to carefully break the adhesive.
- Set the Home button shield aside.
- Now we've just got to remove the actual Home button. Simply push the Home button up from the front of the assembly and use your pry tool or a metal spatula to loosen the gasket on the back side. The Home button should come free pretty easily.
Transfer the removed components to the new iPhone 5 display assembly
Now that we've removed everything from the old assembly, we can transfer it to the new, unbroken assembly. In order to do this, just follow the above directions in reverse order or refer to our video where we'll walk you through readying the new assembly.
Once you've finished readying the new assembly, continue on.
Replace the iPhone 5 display assembly
- Start by securing the three cables back to the logic board.
- Replace the logic board shield cover over the cables and secure it with the three screws we originally removed using your #00 Phillips screwdriver.
- There are plastic clips that run along the top of the display assembly like you can see below. These need to sit underneath the inside of the frame.
- Starting from the top make sure you slide the clips in place and carefully work your way around the edges of the display applying even pressure to snap the display into place.
Replace the dock connector screws
Use your security screwdriver to replace the two screws on either side of the Lightning connector port.
Now that you've finished reassembling your iPhone 5 you can go ahead and turn it back on by pressing and holding down the power button until you see the Apple logo.
If all went well, your iPhone should boot up just fine. Make sure to test the new replacement for dead spots and check the display quality to make sure there are no dead pixels or discoloration. Since you did have to transfer components that control brightness, sound, and the proximity sensor - it's always a good idea to test those functions too so you know you transferred all the components over correctly.
Thanks again to The Pod Drop for all their help. If you don't feel comfortable repairing your own iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, check them out. There are many reputable repair shops that can do it for you, and many times, even offer you a warranty on the repair for far cheaper than what a replacement iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch would cost.
Want to know how to perform another type of iPhone repair or modification? Send me suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.