iPhone 3GS Teardown

Teardown

Teardown

Teardowns provide a look inside a device and should not be used as disassembly instructions.

To get all the latest updates as we're doing the teardown, follow us on twitter! We also have some video clips uploaded through the iPhone 3GS courtesy of our fellow friend Richard Lai; he's created a playlist for all to enjoy. Many thanks to our friends at MacWorld UK, who let us use their office and equipment for the teardown.

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Edit Step 1 iPhone 3GS Teardown  ¶ 

  • We have the iPhone in hand!

  • We didn't have to travel quite as far as last year to get it. This year, it was only 5,400 miles away.

  • We lost the corporate jet due to the economic downturn. Our CEO had to settle for an Italian bi-plane. 47 hours later he was in London.

  • Apple claims the iPhone 3GS is "up to 2x faster." Why is the 3GS faster? We'll find out soon enough. According to rumors, the 3GS has a 600 MHz processor, 50% faster than the processor in the iPhone 3G.

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • We won't bore you with a lengthly unboxing, since there's nothing new to see here.

  • Which one's the 3GS? They look identical.

  • Apple doesn't make it easy to identify your iPhone 3GS, as they're all labeled just "iPhone." However, the 3G is model A1241, while the 3GS is model A1303.

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Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • The original iPhone was very difficult to open, but we expect the 3GS (like the 3G) to be quite serviceable. There are still two visible screws on the bottom of the phone, which is a good sign for easy opening.

  • Remove the two bottom screws with a Phillips #00 screwdriver.

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Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • A small suction cup is your friend. A large suction cup may also be a fun toy.

  • There are seven numbered connectors on the 3GS, up from six on the 3G. Connector number seven is in the lower right corner, just above the dock connector.

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • There are three cables holding the LCD and digitizer to the rest of the logic board. Disconnecting them is as easy as 1-2-3.

    • 1: LCD panel

    • 2: Digitizer

    • 3: Ear speaker

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • We're looking forward to the improved 3 megapixel camera on the 3GS. According to our good friend Richard Lai, "Camera quality is much improved from the 3G one, close up shots were possible down to about 5cm, brightness adjusts well when picking focus area." We've seen some pretty impressive shots already.

  • Fortunately, as in both the original and 3G iPhones, the camera's a separate component, so removal is possible if necessary for security purposes.

  • In each image, the left photo is from the iPhone 3G, the right photo is from the iPhone 3GS.

  • For those who really want to examine the pictures: hi-res1, hi-res2, and hi-res3.

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • Here's the two halves.

  • All the chips on the logic board are hidden beneath two large EMI shields. We'll have those removed in just a bit.

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Edit Step 8  ¶ 

  • Just like the iPhone 3G, the LCD is pretty easy to replace. After removing 6 screws, the LCD simply lifts out.

  • On the iPhone 3G, we see a lot more cracked digitizers than cracked LCDs. Replacing the digitizer is a little more work, and requires breaking out a heat gun or hair dryer.

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Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • Here's the fabled "Do not remove" sticker. It didn't stop us last year, and it's certainly not going to stop us this year.

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Edit Step 10  ¶ 

  • Removing the logic board. Like the 3G, there is a single large PCB with all components.

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Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • The main logic board. There's a lot packed in here. Here's a high-res image of this shot.

  • The Apple-logo chip is the primary Samsung ARM processor.

  • The 16 GB of Toshiba flash are now on the front of the board, just below the Samsung ARM.

  • phoneWreck sent us a great component diagram (second picture). They performed a thorough chip analysis of the iPhone 3GS, so check out their site!

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Edit Step 12  ¶ 

  • The other side of the logic board. You can see the battery contact pads in the lower right corner. Apple was again kind enough to not solder the battery to the logic board.

  • Here's a high-res image of this shot.

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Edit Step 13  ¶ 

  • Apple promises improved battery life with the 3GS. The battery is listed as 3.7V and 4.51 Whr. This comes out to 1219 mAh, compared to 1150 mAh on the 3G. That's only a 6% increase.

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Edit Step 14  ¶ 

  • Video recording is a long-overdue feature of the iPhone 3GS. The 3GS records video at 640x480 resolution and 30 fps.

  • The video recording quality appears acceptable, although not exceptional. You can see a video (taken using another iPhone 3GS) of us opening the phone.

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Edit Step 15  ¶ 

  • The 3GS offers Voice Control. We're not sure yet why this feature couldn't be added via software to earlier iPhones. Perhaps the voice recognition requires a better microphone than in earlier iPhones or a lot of processing power, or maybe Apple just wanted to differentiate the 3GS.

  • According to Richard Lai, the "Chinese (Cantonese) voice control works, but took a while to work out the magic words as there is no guide released yet (not out in Hong Kong until early July)." He also tested the "Chinese (Mandarin) and Chinese (Taiwanese), although the latter didn't work as well since [he doesn't] do the accent well."

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Edit Step 16  ¶ 

  • Here's all the parts. We'll continue to perform further analysis, so check back for updates, or follow @ifixit on Twitter.

Required Tools

Spudger

$2.95 · 50+ In stock

Phillips #00 Screwdriver

$5.95 · 50+ In stock

Heat Gun

$24.95 · 50+ In stock

Small Suction Cup

$2.95 · 50+ In stock

Recommended Tools

Universal Drive Adapter

$29.95 · 50+ In stock

iFixit Lock Pick Set

$29.95 · 50+ In stock

Inspection Scope

$39.95 · 50+ In stock

Frictionless Ratchet

$24.95 · 50+ In stock

Portable Anti-Static Mat

$34.95 · 43 In stock

Popular Device Products

iPhone 3G and 3GS SIM Tray

$2.95 · 3 In stock

iPhone 3GS Front Panel

$9.95 · 28 In stock

iPhone 3GS Replacement Battery

$19.95 · 49 In stock

SIM Card Eject Tool

$2.95 · 50+ In stock

Comments Comments are onturn off

i love my 3G and now im dying to get the 3GS but its a bit out of my budget. please help me find a site which sell the unlocked 3GS for cheaper than this... http://www.puremobile.com/apple-iphone-3...

thank you in advance.

mack123, · Reply

personally i think the 3GS is a bit overrated. the 3G is a better phone in my opinion, but if you want to get some..i got mine off gsmallover.com. they sell both the 3G and the 3GS fully unlocked.

Sammy77,

Quote from mack123:

i love my 3G and now im dying to get the 3GS but its a bit out of my budget. please help me find a site which sell the unlocked 3GS for cheaper than this... http://www.puremobile.com/apple-iphone-3...

thank you in advance.

hey u can find in youtube.com i send u the link.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxP3xJ3Yk...

sony358, · Reply

Quote from mack123:

i love my 3G and now im dying to get the 3GS but its a bit out of my budget. please help me find a site which sell the unlocked 3GS for cheaper than this... http://www.puremobile.com/apple-iphone-3...

thank you in advance.

you can get a 32gb 3gs from at&t for 500 bucks without a contract. then unlock it yourself. 800 bucks is way too much.

marmeladeboy, · Reply

Hey,

Im new here on this forum, im from Germany so please excuse my bad eng ;(

Well, I bought an Iphone 3 G[S]from Ebay.Uk, for about 700 Euros. (in Europe Iphone is very epxensiv). So my probles is that it sometimes Crush without an reasen (but often after unlock with Ultrasn0w)and doesnt turn on again (display just keeps black)if i do it on my power adapter then it turns on again but when im putting the plug out display is getting black again. Now after many houers/day just spending on restoring i have recogniced that its an hardware defect because if i press 1 cm about the I from the Iphone letters it goes on but then stuck on restart. So i wanted to ask what hardware part is behind the letter I and above i would try to rapair it.

Have a nice Day.

Ashaway, · Reply

I like your W Page.

ashok kumar, · Reply

Actually, it's pretty easy to tell. The iPhone 3G S has text on the back that is MUCH easier to read because it's white and not gray this time around.

dagamer34, · Reply

Quote from dagamer34:

Actually, it's pretty easy to tell. The iPhone 3G S has text on the back that is MUCH easier to read because it's white and not gray this time around.

Sorry thats wrong!! Its gray (silver) as well!!

geniusbar, · Reply

Where is the "magnetometer" or "compass". Is it software only application? SW only can't be *that* accurate!

divyamistry, · Reply

air gun/blow dryer if more then just the screen is coming up

vashtbh, · Reply

Does removing that sticker mean apple wont work on your phone at all, my warranty is already gone

smitty92, · Reply

Can i add the new style camera to my 3G phone?

blademan1331, · Reply

Quote from blademan1331:

Can i add the new style camera to my 3G phone?

Chances are slim to none that the new camera would work in the old iPhone 3G without modifying other hardware.

Miroslav Djuric, · Reply

Where is the Antenna on the 3GS located??

WcBones, · Reply

i need to remove the bezel

austin, · Reply

Does anyone know what that little metal stub in the very upper right hand corner of Step 11 picture does? Is it only meant to tuck behind the bezel to keep the motherboard down during assembly or does it have any function electronically? Mine fell of and I reattached it with a drop of solder underneath and now my PC doesn't recognize my phone. Not sure if it's something else or not.

Dmitry, · Reply

I believe the antena is at the top left by the headphone jack. But I could be wrong

austin, · Reply

The Nor chip is listed as (Infineon-36MY1EE) all over the web but i am confused with INTEL it has the i sign on it which INTEL has on it please someone give details about it. Its INFINEON OR INTEL?

cell, · Reply

Quote from cell:

The Nor chip is listed as (Infineon-36MY1EE) all over the web but i am confused with INTEL it has the i sign on it which INTEL has on it please someone give details about it. Its INFINEON OR INTEL?

The NOR chip wit "i" on it is from Numonyx (Intel and ST Flash Division Spin-off Company)

sun, · Reply

Very Nice! So what do u think the odds are for droppin a 3Gs board in a 3G? ;) Or is not even worth it

Vette, · Reply

Thanks for the teardown. Are there any distinctive marks on the camera that would shed more light on its origin and specs?

easp, · Reply

who is the provider for touch screen controller

pawan2019, · Reply

Quote from sun:

The NOR chip wit "i" on it is from Numonyx (Intel and ST Flash Division Spin-off Company)

Thanx mate

cell, · Reply

Quote from Vette:

Very Nice! So what do u think the odds are for droppin a 3Gs board in a 3G? ;) Or is not even worth it

firmware issues

smitty92, · Reply

the block diagram provided by phonewreck is incomplete and only shows the 3G chips for the RF and excludes the GSM/EDGE components. not a thorough job. they need to redo it.

ejlwireless, · Reply

What about the compass? Is it integrated to GPS or is a dedicated IC?

HQuest, · Reply

Can you publish a high res picture of the other side of the logic board showing the open shildings where the bluetooth parts are? I can see two still shielded areas there on the left side and on the top side of the PCB.

StefRi, · Reply

As far as the battery itself goes, is there a replacement unit that will fit in the iphone, yet offer greater battery life. The problem I imagine is physical size versus charge density and heat released by the battery.

Any ideas or help?

id10t, · Reply

You guys know who made the image sensor? Trying to figure out if it's OmniVision's TrueFocus camera since DSCs don't even seamlessly macro focus like the iPhone's does.

Nice job!

thisguy, · Reply

Quote from thisguy:

DSCs don't even seamlessly macro focus like the iPhone's does.

Sony's DSCs have had that feature for a while now (at least half a year?)

blufire, · Reply

I noticed a new cable connection from the bottom antenna housing on the right. Its one of those small round plugs. It is going into the very bottom right hand side of the main board. Any idea what this is for?

paulknight, · Reply

Quote from blufire:

Sony's DSCs have had that feature for a while now (at least half a year?)

Ah, I missed that. Thanks! You know the model?

Still, I'm wondering how that feature is being crammed into a max 0.4" module height. Surely, there'd be other phones with the same capability. 1/4" 3mp is pretty old hat. EETimes says it's a 3mp OmniVision autofocus module, but that could mean any number of chips including the TrueFocus one.

It just seems that if the DigiTimes rumor is fully true (which 1/2 seems to be), that Apple will be using OmniVision's 5mp TrueFocus also since that's the only one available for the 1/4" form factor (would they really use 1/3"? can it fit?), I'm wondering why they wouldn't use the 3mp version of TrueFocus, too.

PS It looks like there's no curvilinear distortion in the iPhone's pics. Am I just seeing things?

thisguy, · Reply

i need more detail on the camera?

is from OmniVision? there are a OV630 image processor?

thanks

http://www.ovt.com/products/truefocus.ph...

Latente, · Reply

Quote from Latente:

i need more detail on the camera?

is from OmniVision? there are a OV630 image processor?

thanks

http://www.ovt.com/products/truefocus.ph...

Well, EETimes says it's an OmniVision 3mp autofocus.

http://www.eetimes.com/news/semi/showArt...

This really doesn't help much, considering the wide variety of abilities inherent in a Wavefront Coded system such as the TrueFocus product line (1/4" 3mp and 1/4" 5mp) and the wide variety of 1/4" 3mps that OmniVision offers. I still can't find a cameraphone-class module that focuses in the way that iPhone does (into and out of macro mode seamlessly), so TrueFocus seems the most logical explanation. Also, this may be poor estimation on my part, but it looks like the iPhone 3gs has no curvilinear distortion, implying TrueFocus again.

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2006/0...

PS The 2-chip TrueFocus solution is all but dead. It looks like the 5mp TrueFocus may be adopted by some unnamed future Apple device and Storm 2. Who knows?

thisguy, · Reply

Dude, go cut your nails.

Gross...

M3ta, · Reply

Quote from M3ta:

Dude, go cut your nails.

Gross...

Those are the hands of a dudette :)

Miroslav Djuric, · Reply

Any sign on the circuit boards of the hypothetical DSP that has been proposed as required for the voice control feature?

rmohns, · Reply

You guys are awesome. Thanks!

asdf1234, · Reply

Quote from rmohns:

Any sign on the circuit boards of the hypothetical DSP that has been proposed as required for the voice control feature?

The ARM chip is based on the the Cortex-A8, which includes a powerful DSP called NEON as a built in part of the A8 chip architecture. It doesn't need an external DSP. The A8 and NEON were announced several years ago, you can google more info.

adrianco, · Reply

Quote from adrianco:

The ARM chip is based on the the Cortex-A8, which includes a powerful DSP called NEON

NEON is not a DSP. It's more accurate to describe NEON as a set of SIMD instructions, implemented in a separate but tightly-coupled section of the processor.

nonlocal, · Reply

I read in another forum that voice control is something quite processor-heavy, so maybe they needed the 600Mhz-piece to pull it off acceptably...

...but that's only what I've read, I have no idea...

Xav0r, · Reply

what is this part? it appears that i have severed a sodder and am wondering if i can find a replacement.

tim, · Reply

Thanks for yet another great teardown :)

blufire, · Reply

How easy is it after the breakdown you have already done to replace the rear black plastic case as I still see a lot inside this

Thanks

GoldPlating, · Reply

Quote from GoldPlating:

How easy is it after the breakdown you have already done to replace the rear black plastic case as I still see a lot inside this

Thanks

It shouldn't be too hard to replace the rear plastic case at this point. You can look at the iPhone 3G rear case replacement to get an idea of what else needs to be done. However, the bigger problem is finding a rear case to replace yours with. We don't sell them because we can't find any that meet our quality standard. Beware of retailers trying to sell rear panels for the 3G or 3GS "without internal parts" -- those panels are a waste of money, as they will not mate properly with the front panel.

Miroslav Djuric, · Reply

Quote from miro:

It shouldn't be too hard to replace the rear plastic case at this point. You can look at the iPhone 3G rear case replacement to get an idea of what else needs to be done. However, the bigger problem is finding a rear case to replace yours with. We don't sell them because we can't find any that meet our quality standard. Beware of retailers trying to sell rear panels for the 3G or 3GS "without internal parts" -- those panels are a waste of money, as they will not mate properly with the front panel.

jdesorme, · Reply

Quote from miro:

It shouldn't be too hard to replace the rear plastic case at this point. You can look at the iPhone 3G rear case replacement to get an idea of what else needs to be done. However, the bigger problem is finding a rear case to replace yours with. We don't sell them because we can't find any that meet our quality standard. Beware of retailers trying to sell rear panels for the 3G or 3GS "without internal parts" -- those panels are a waste of money, as they will not mate properly with the front panel.

I would like to replace the chrome bezel on my iPhone 3G. Is it easy to detach the old bezel and reattach the new one to the real panel, or is it glued to the frame?

jdesorme, · Reply

Meh I would love to put a 3GS hardware inside a 1st gen aluminum case :D

HQuest, · Reply

Is there any way to order the parts and build an iPhone or get a broken phone and replace most of the parts? If so, how would you get software on it? Would it be unlocked?

Tim Voruz, · Reply

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