Smartphones

How to: Do-it-Yourself iPhone repair

Try at your own risk

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If you’re looking for a step-by-step tutorial on how to repair your iPhone by yourself, this isn’t iFixit nor JerryRigEverything. But if you came here out of curiosity (and for some tips), I’m here to share my first ever iPhone repair experience.

I’ve been dealing with tech mishaps over the years. From faulty PCs and laptops, all the way to a completely dead iPhone 3Gs and Samsung Galaxy Note5, it’s not something new to me. In fact, it was frustrating to deal with it as I’ve experienced having no computer when I was in high school — and even being phoneless for three months back in college.

If you’re too clumsy or you can’t see small parts clearly, your next best option is to:

  • Bring it to a repair shop
  • Find a friend (like me) who knows how to replace phone parts
  • Find a substitute phone instead

Disclaimer: Try at your own risk. Don’t do it if your device is still under warranty.

Check your phone’s defects

You can’t fix something if you don’t know what’s wrong with it. If you already know your phone’s situation, it’s easier to determine what parts you need to buy for the Do-it-yourself iPhone repair you’re planning to do.

In my case, I already knew that my iPhone’s battery is not in its ideal shape. Apple iOS’ Battery Health feature is actually helpful as it states whether your battery is still functional or needs to be replaced. Other than that, my phone’s display also suffered from “ghost touches” that I needed to replace it too right away.

DIY repair is the cheapest option

Phone repairs really aren’t cheap. If you take your iPhone to an Authorized Service Center, you’re not just paying for those parts that need to be replaced, you’re also paying a hefty amount of diagnostics fee and even the repairman’s labor.

As I checked on Apple’s website, an out-of-warranty screen repair for the iPhone 6 Plus will cost me a whopping US$ 149 (which is around PhP 7,360 when converted). Other than that, Apple’s US$ 29 battery replacement is long overdue. Now, it’s back to its original replacement cost of US$ 79 (around PhP 3,900).

I know what you’re thinking. Third-party repair shops have cheaper services. Still, you’re gonna pay for labor and diagnostics fees. It will also consume much of your time — and just the thought of going out amid the pandemic isn’t safe at all.

Be knowledgeable enough

 

Image by GadgetMatch

DIY repair isn’t for everyone. As for myself, I’m confident enough to proceed as I’ve had numerous experiences repairing most laptops and CPUs. I was able to upgrade the RAM (memory) capacity as well as replacing old HDDs (hard disk drives) to a faster SSD (solid state drive).

Other than that, one should know how tools work. One mistake and you might damage the whole thing. Usual problems start when you don’t know what proper screw head to use — either between the common Phillips and flathead screw heads to a more complex Tri-wing and Pentalobe screws.

Not being vigilant and careful results to stripped screws, making future repairs harder. Other problems arise when you damage flex cables, IC chips, and other phone parts that are all vital in making the phone function — just like organs in the human body.

Finalize your decision

If you’re still holding onto your phone because you’re used to your phone’s ecosystem or you still need a lot of files with you and you don’t want to switch to a slower budget phone, this might be your final call.

But if you don’t actually care switching to a new phone without thinking of the hassle of moving files and several information, it’s not a bad decision. Just pick something that’s practical for you.

Choose the right parts and buy the exact tools needed

Now, it’s time to search for replacement parts. With the ongoing pandemic, it’s advisable to buy from reliable shopping apps. In the Philippines, you can find options on Shopee or Lazada. But if you still want to explore more, AliExpress offers parts for consumers and not just for wholesalers. The only downside is the pricey shipping fee compared to local operators.

As this is an old iPhone, buying third-party parts wasn’t a big deal as long as they’re functional. I was able to buy a replacement battery for just PhP 460 (US$ 9).

For the display replacement, I was able to purchase one for PhP 1086 (US$ 22). It even came with the right set of tools, from pliers, plastic spudger, suction cup, sim ejector tool, and a screwdriver with 4 detachable magnetic screw options that are commonly used for iPhone repairs.

Note: Most iPhones are assembled in China that’s why parts being sold online are sourced from them. If it looks sketchy to you, try checking customers’ feedback. It has always been my habit whenever I shop online. Luckily, I wasn’t scammed and received the items I ordered without damage.

Let’s get the work done

After receiving the replacement parts, I immediately went on with the repair. It’s common knowledge but just in case you forgot, you need to turn off your phone before repairing to avoid technical failures.

I started by plugging my hot blower into the socket and directly pointed it at my phone so it’s easier for me to separate the display from the aluminum unibody. Then, I started attaching the pentalobe attachment to the screwdriver and removed those two screws found between the Lightning (charging) port.

And with the help of the included suction cup, plastic spudger, and a little bit of my hand’s force, I was able to pry the phone’s display gently.

Not all iPhones are created equal

As my iPhone doesn’t have an IP rating, it doesn’t come with a waterproof gasket on its edges. For the iPhone 7 series and newer, prying the display will be more challenging because of the added adhesive for waterproofing.

Weird Flex but OK

At last! I was able to lift my phone’s display. But don’t get too excited. You should still be careful with those flex cables that are still connected to the phone’s logic board. If you forcefully pull it hard, the worst thing that could happen is you ripping the flex cables — which you don’t want to do with your original display especially if you did not buy a replacement.

Usually, you only need to use a Phillips screwdriver to unscrew certain parts in the phone. But if you’re gonna disassemble the whole phone, you also need to use flathead and tri-wing screwdrivers to remove everything.

As for this part, I only needed the Phillips head to remove the metal plate that protects the display’s flex cables. Removing it will help me unsnap those cables.

Label your screws accordingly

As mentioned earlier, you might encounter screws that are completely different from one another. This isn’t totally required but it’s a helpful way to distinguish which screw parts go to which hole since not all screws have the same length and type.

You can do this by placing a piece of tape with numbers/labels on top of your working space and place them in an order you will remember. Things are always better when they’re labeled. 😉

Don’t use metal pliers when unsnapping cables

Be cautious or you might snap

You can use pliers to remove metal parts that aren’t electrically-charged. Still, you should be cautious as you can’t use metal pliers when unsnapping cables inside or it might damage the IC chips found on the logic board and will badly affect the phone. Doing so might not only damage your phone, but it can also make you snap hard.

Best way is to use a plastic spudger to prevent metal contacts from sparking. As JerryRigEverything always says in his videos, unsnapping them is as easy as removing LEGO bricks stacked on top of one another.

Battery removal is tedious but satisfying

Usually, your iPhone’s battery has plenty of adhesive beneath it in order for it to stick even when you’re on the move. But before prying it up, you should remove the metal plate housing first on the lower right side. After doing so, unsnap the cables just like how you did with the display’s flex cables.

If you can’t find those black pull tabs that will easily help you remove the battery adhesive, you should grab your spudger and slowly lift the battery until you see the white adhesive and pull it as hard as you can. Once all the adhesive is pulled out, it’s safe to say you succeeded with the battery removal.

Start replacing those parts

Unlike replacing your ex, replacing your phone’s parts is just a backward process. After getting the replacement parts ready, you should store the old parts in a safe place since they are still products that are electrically-charged and include chemicals that might pose a risk of fire hazard when not handled and stored in a closed container.

Remember to dispose technological devices and parts properly. Keep it out of reach children and pets as well.

Putting back what’s left

Unlike putting your trust back in another person, putting all the cables, plates, and screws back in place is easier especially when you know how and where to place them — that’s why labeling them is more important than you thought.

Some iPhone parts are designed for a single device only

Display, backplate, battery, cameras, microphones, speakers, and vibration motor can all be replaced. But for parts that require biometrics, there’s a 1:1 equivalent for every iPhone. If you’re proceeding with the display replacement of your old iPhone, you need to remember that it doesn’t come with a TouchID replacement. That iPhone part is made for a single device only. You need to transfer that part from your original display to the replacement.

If you break your TouchID (or even FaceID in newer iPhones), you can’t have replacement parts for them. Breaking these precious parts will result into complete biometrics malfunction.

Fun fact: The best way to know whether an iPhone was repaired is by checking the True Tone Display setting. If it doesn’t show that setting, your iPhone’s display is most likely replaced. Even original iPhone display replacements are not exceptions to Apple’s repair mishap.

It wasn’t a perfect repair

When you’re not careful, you can immediately break something — whether it’s someone’s heart or just the flex cables in your display.

I overdid the unsnapping of the LCD backplate’s flex cable that connects the TouchID. Luckily, the fingerprint sensor is still in its original shape that I only needed to order a new LCD backplate for PhP 261 (US$ 5). It came two weeks after because it was directly sourced from China.

But it was still a successful repair

After waiting for weeks to get my LCD backplate replacement, I successfully repaired my old iPhone 6 Plus — all with working buttons, a better touch input, and of course, the TouchID works as well. With the faulty battery, it usually lasted for around two to three hours but now, it lasts for at least a day of moderate to heavy use. Standby time lasts a whole week.

The original cost of repair was around US$ 228 (or more than PhP 10,000) — where you can find and buy a brand new budget smartphone instead. Thinking about the money I saved actually motivated me to push this through. Combining the parts I paid for (including their shipping fees), that’s a total of just PhP 1807 (US$ 36) just in case you forgot to do the math.

BONUS: I also repaired my friend’s iPhone X

After sharing my story on how I successfully repaired my old iPhone 6 Plus to my friends, I was dared to repair an iPhone X. I took it as another iPhone repair challenge.

At first, I thought the logic board was dead. Not until I tried charging it wirelessly. Eventually, it powered on — which made me think that only the charging port was defective as it was submerged in water.

The repair process is completely different — from the placement of display flex cables, all the way to the complete removal of the battery, logic board, Taptic Engine, and the cameras as the charging port hides beneath those parts. The best thing is that, the Lightning port replacement plus waterproofing and battery adhesive only cost around PhP 916 (around US$ 19). It will cost more if it was brought to a service center considering they will run several diagnostic tests that add up to its total repair cost.

Making the long story short, it was another successful iPhone repair! With little background and experience to phone repairs, I was astounded that I can replace phone parts even without needing to go out and head to a service center.

News

iPhone 13 Pro series to get a 120Hz OLED display

It’ll be made by Samsung

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The enthusiasts have long asked Apple to include a new display on its iPhone, which has a higher refresh rate. This year, the wish could be granted as the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are tipped to have a 120Hz OLED screen.

According to South Korea’s The Elec, it will feature a Radio Frequency Printed Circuit Board (RFPCB) and come with an LTPO OLED display for the 120Hz refresh rate. The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini shall get a Flexible Printed Circuit Board (FPCB).

RFPCB boards are more flexible and can be bent to accommodate fresh or even radical designs. Furthermore, The iPhone 13 and Pro are tipped to feature a 6.1-inch screen, whereas the Max will come with a 6.7-inch screen.

While rumors suggest the mini offering will get a 5.4-inch display, multiple reports in the past have hinted that Apple could ditch the series entirely. It’s also said that Samsung will make the new panels with higher refresh rates.

Apple Watch has an always-on display thanks to LTPO technology, which is likely to drizzle down on iPhone 13 Pro series. Apple’s iPad Pro has a 120Hz screen since 2017, and it’s branded as ProMotion. We expect a similar branding approach for the new iPhones as well.

Samsung may provide Apple with as many as 110 million panels for the iPhone models this year. Apple is also working with LG Display, which will supply 50 million units.

Although, Apple is very late to the party as Android phone makers like Samsung, OnePlus, Xiaomi, and pretty much all of them, have adopted higher refresh rate screens. Even an affordable phone like the Redmi Note 10 Pro

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Singapore

How To: Low-light photography, videography on an iPhone

Take out your lightsabers and record Star Wars-themed content!

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iPhone

Gone are the days where our smartphones struggle from shooting when there’s a lack of proper lighting. Nowadays, most smartphones — flagships specifically — can record amazing videos and stunning photos in low-light conditions.

For instance, FightSaber Singapore, a premier Lucasfilm-recognised lightsaber performance organization recorded a Star-Wars themed video using only the iPhone 12 Pro Max. FightSaber Singapore used lightsabers from SaberMach, Singapore’s first and only professional combat saber company, to highlight NeoPixel blades that astonishingly lit up the room.

 

Nonetheless, taking gorgeous stills and videos in low-light situations is now possible using just your smartphone. Fret not, you don’t need to be a pro; you just need to follow simple tricks.

Tips and tricks

First, make sure to turn on High-Efficiency Image File Format before you start shooting. Next, adjust HDR (high dynamic range) on your camera settings which will help you capture vibrant stills in high-contrast situations. If you plan on capturing light streaks, set your settings to 4K with 24 FPS. For smooth movements, adjust it to 4K with 60 FPS.

When you start shooting, lock the exposure and maintain auto-focus. Tap the spot on your screen that you want to adjust. On iPhone, you can also press and hold on the screen until you see AE/AF lock to keep the focus and exposure in the same spot.

Moreover, you can create a quick whip zoom effect while recording by tapping on the individual lenses. No need for post-production!

On a non-technical tip, don’t forget about varying your camera angles. Low-angle shots tend to add drama while high-angle shots provide an overview of the scene.


SMARTPHONE PHOTOGRAPHY SERIES

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Smartphone photography 101: How to take slice of life photos

Smartphone photography 101: Capturing festivities

Smartphone photography 101: Taking flat lays

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News

Apple could launch its first foldable in 2023

Apple’s a little late to the party?

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Folding phones have been around for quite some time, but only a few companies like Samsung and Huawei have led the mainstream trend. However, this could soon change with Apple launching its folding offering soon, and if reports are to be believed, it could be as early as 2023.

According to trusted source  Ming-Chi Kuo, the first folding iPhone is most likely to launch in 2023. The information is based on an “industry survey” and reveals that Apple’s shipment of its foldable phones will reach 15 to 20 million units.

It could sport an 8-inch Quad HD+ OLED display that can fold. Kuo believes that the upcoming ‌iPhone‌ will adopt a silver nanowire touch solution for the device’s display, which will create a “long-term competitive advantage” for Apple in the foldable device market.

The report says, “At present, the product position of foldable smartphones is mainly to integrate the smartphone and tablet. But we believe that the foldable smartphone is only one of the applications of the foldable design. We predict that foldable devices will blur the product segmentations between smartphones, tablets, and laptops in the future.”

Kuo is also predicting that the folding device will blur lines between traditional smartphones, tablets, and laptops in the future. Given Apple’s “cross-product ecosystems and hardware design advantages,” he expects Cupertino to emerge as the “biggest winner in the new foldable device trend.”

Keep in mind, the predicted analysis is two to three years down the line. Within this time frame, many aspects of the future phone could change, and these reports should be taken with a pinch of salt.

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