iPhone 3G Front Panel Replacement

April 24, 2009 Hardware, Repair Guides, Site News — Miro

Go to our iPhone 3G Front Panel Repair Guide to get complete step-by-step instructions for replacing your broken glass!

Imagine this scenario: You’re late for a meeting. To make matters worse, you find that your bike tires are extremely low. As you’re hastily pumping up the tires, The Boss calls your iPhone 3G. He usually doesn’t call your personal line, but this time it’s personal — his butt’s on the line, since you’re bringing his presentation to the meeting. You’re juggling many things in your mind, including the virtual beating you’re going to receive for being late, all the while not realizing that the sweat on your hands is making the iPhone quite slippery. Everything changes in one split-second flash: the iPhone 3G shoots out of your well-oiled hand and has an intimate chat with Mr. Concrete. The result? A cracked iPhone 3G screen, not to mention an even-more-furious boss due to your inability to pick up the phone. While iFixit can’t get you a new job in the bicycle sales industry, we can show you how to fix your iPhone 3G’s cracked screen.

The first thing to know to is what part you need to replace. On the original iPhone display, the glass, touchscreen digitizer, and LCD display were inseparably glued together. Fortunately, Apple changed their design and the iPhone 3G front panel glass is not glued to the LCD behind it. This is great news, because most of the time when you break the glass the LCD itself is fine. The front panel is available online at iFixit for $70, a bit cheaper than the LCD itself.

Opening the iPhone 3G is definitely simpler than the first generation iPhone. The original required a wide array of tools (including a dental pick) to remove the back panel. Apple’s designers decided to be nicer with the 3G, but weird tools like suction cups are still needed to make the opening procedure easier. Removing two Phillips screws and a small pull with the suction cup open the iPhone 3G. Don’t pull too hard, however– several cables still hold the two sides in place.

Disconnecting the display assembly from the rest of the iPhone 3G is as easy as 1-2-3 — literally. Apple was nice enough to number the black ribbon cables “1,” “2″, and “3,” allowing for a no-brainer disconnecting procedure. However, people attempting this at home should be careful to not break any connectors while trying to remove them.

Just like anyone can be linked to Kevin Bacon via six degrees of separation, six screws prevent the display from being separated from the front panel. The screws are very small in size and have #00 Phillips heads. An injudicious flick of the wrist will misplace them forever, so one should take care to keep them in a safe place. Scotch tape is your friend. We like to tape each set of screws down to a sheet of paper and write down where they came from.

To separate the display from the glass, you have to carefully insert a metal spudger between the two metal rails along the edge of the display assembly. A word of caution, however: metal spudgers are the double-edged swords of the iPod and iPhone repair worlds. They are incredibly useful due to their hard metal edge, especially for tight crevices where plastic tools are too soft to be used. However, the hierarchy of hardness dictates that “like scratches like,” meaning that everything softer than the metal spudger will be easily scratched. Unfortunately the list includes pretty much every surface of the iPhone 3G. A metal spudger can also bridge electrical connections, potentially shorting the iPhone 3G’s logic board if you’re not careful.

Glue prevents the removal of the plastic touch screen from the rest of the front panel. The glue loosens when heated, and consequently a heat gun comes in very handy for this procedure. However, too much heat gun action can warp the front panel, as well as leave nasty burns on your hands (nobody likes playing hot-potato with an iPhone 3G front panel).  Hair dryers are preferable if they provide enough heat — a safer (and more readily available) alternative.

Getting everything apart is hard enough, but it’s only half the task. The new touch panel now needs to be adhered to the front panel. iFixit includes a set of cut-to-shape 3M double-sided tape strips with every iPhone 3G front panel purchase. Alternatively, the home user can also use double-sided tape — it’s trickier than the pre-cut pieces, but can be done.

Repairing the iPhone 3G’s screen is a difficult, yet rewarding undertaking. A quick lapse in judgment can certainly provide a couple of good stories for next day at the office — stories such as why you have a melted iPhone front panel attached to your right hand, for example. Although the difficulty is relatively high, the cost of replacing the entire iPhone (as opposed to just the front panel) is even higher. A little patience along with good tools, parts, iFixit’s disassembly guide, and a couple of hours will enable anyone to fix their iPhone 3G display for $70.

34 Comments

  1. [...] dem Öffnen des iPhones beschäftigte sich diese bebilderte Anleitung von ifixit. Im Gegensatz zur ersten Geräte-Generation hat man beim iPhone 3G auf das Verkleben der [...]

    Pingback by iFUN.de/iPhone :: Alles zum iPhone − News-Mix: Phishing, Display, Rating, Wasser & Co. — May 1, 2009 @ 3:36 am

  2. Wow, I was skeptical but with a little patience this works. Apple store said warranty was voided because it was dropped and wanted $200 plus tax to fix it and who knows how long it would be gone. I was able to DIY it in an hour and a half and for less than $90 shipped out (I purchased the tools and recommend you do the same unless you already work on computers). The gasket is a little screwed up but you realy can’t tell unless you inspect it, looks pretty much like nothing ever happened. I’m not usually comfortable taking things apart but the instructions are pretty straigt forward.

    Comment by Daniel — May 11, 2009 @ 12:43 pm

  3. Nice job iFixit, once again you have provided us with a great low cost path to fixing a device that has become so important to us. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by Adam Smith — May 14, 2009 @ 6:27 am

  4. Fantastic. Saving this and sending to people I know, in case they break theirs.

    Comment by slappy — May 14, 2009 @ 8:01 am

  5. [...] to suffer from a broken iPhone display, don’t shed a tear just yet. iFixit has revealed a detailed explanation on removing and replacing the iPhone’s front glass without all the additional fuss, with a [...]

    Pingback by DIY Screen Repair For iPhones | Gizmo News — May 14, 2009 @ 10:49 am

  6. [...] to suffer from a broken iPhone display, don’t shed a tear just yet. iFixit has revealed a detailed explanation on removing and replacing the iPhone’s front glass without all the additional fuss, with a [...]

    Pingback by DIY Screen Repair For iPhones | Fortysixty's Blog — May 14, 2009 @ 11:19 am

  7. [...] to suffer from a broken iphone display, don’t shed a tear just yet. iFixit has revealed a detailed explanation on removing and replacing the iphone’s front glass without all the additional fuss, with a [...]

    Pingback by DIY Screen Repair For iPhones | Gadget News — May 14, 2009 @ 12:10 pm

  8. Well, I tried (VERY HARD) to make it work – AND IT DIDN’T. There is one major problem with your setup. NOT providing instructions for assembly is totally BOGUS. To say: “to install, just follow the instructions in reverse” is simply NOT ACCEPTABLE. I for one, will NOT be recommending your option for the fix because of this issue.

    Jim Walker

    Comment by Jim Walker — May 14, 2009 @ 12:15 pm

  9. Hi Jim,

    We understand your frustration. The iPhone 3G is not a simple device to operate on, and the pictures can make it look deceptively easy — “oh you do this, then that, and bam! a new screen on the iPhone.” We try our best to simplify the process as much as we can, and to also relay the level of difficulty to the user. However, it’s infeasible for us to provide reassembly instructions. Guides take an immense amount of time and we specifically tailor them so that the device, once taken apart, can be reassembled in the same way it was disassembled. There may be reassembly nuances, however, that we expect the user to be aware of. We definitely account for those nuances when setting the difficulty level displayed at the beginning of a guide.

    Thank you for understanding,

    iFixit

    Comment by miro — May 14, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

  10. [...] to suffer from a broken iPhone display, don’t shed a tear just yet. iFixit has revealed a detailed explanation on removing and replacing the iPhone’s front glass without all the additional fuss, with a [...]

    Pingback by DIY Screen Repair For iPhones | Apple Iphone and Tech News — May 14, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

  11. [...] Source [...]

    Pingback by Remplacer l’écran de l’iPhone - Oneshotrecord.com — May 15, 2009 @ 6:42 am

  12. [...] iFixit [...]

    Pingback by podradio.fr » Comment remplacer la vitre de son iPhone, par iFixit… — May 15, 2009 @ 7:34 am

  13. [...] un procedimiento relativamente sencillo para reemplazar el cristal del iPhone 3G. La gente de iFixIt tienen las instrucciones paso a paso en inglés, y nos asegura que sólo cuesta $70 y una mano [...]

    Pingback by » Reemplaza el cristal del iPhone 3G Canal Apple — May 16, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

  14. [...] fare? Il sito iFixit (inglese) ha pubblicato una guida che mostra step-by-step le operazioni da [...]

    Pingback by Sostituire il display di iPhone 3G per 70$ - iPhone Italia - Il blog italiano sull’Apple iPhone 3G — May 18, 2009 @ 8:06 pm

  15. not exactly easy, and i’m a jeweler. it needed more detail on terminal removal (esp #3) and glass removal

    Comment by billy — June 17, 2009 @ 7:58 pm

  16. Sabéis dónde puedo comprar una pantalla para un ifone 3g??? para cambiarla yo??

    Comment by Teresa — July 13, 2009 @ 7:38 am

  17. [...] it’s true, that’s $250 and 5 minutes’ work. However I do find this tutorial: http://www.ifixit.com/blog/?p=352 which costs around $70 to fix a iphone screen with their “state-of-art” repair [...]

    Pingback by Fuck! 250 bucks to repair this freaking iphone » 记录我们的一点一滴 — July 18, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

  18. I forgot a display screw : lcd broken when i tried to remove it from the glass, even i did it softly. :-(

    Comment by FOB — August 14, 2009 @ 4:43 am

  19. [...] nécessaires à cette opération.Pour suivre la méthode complète en images, c’est par ICI et la vidéo est par LA ! Attention, ne vous lancez dans cette aventure que si vous êtes sûr(e) [...]

    Pingback by NamrouD | Upgrade Your Mind ! » Tuto iPhone : Remplacer la Vitre Cassee (images) — September 26, 2009 @ 4:10 am

  20. [...] vi parliamo di una guida pubblicata direttamente da iFixit, il noto portale che ci offre spesso le visioni interne dei [...]

    Pingback by Guida su come riparare il display dell’iPhone 3G — January 2, 2010 @ 4:48 pm

  21. I don’t understand it, It all works, but as I lower the new LCD glass assembly into the case the screen goes white.. pull it out a bit and it’s ok.. I guess it has something to do with the LCD connector being tensioned but can’t figure out how to get it seated and have the LCD work… help!!

    Comment by CJ79 — February 2, 2010 @ 2:25 pm

  22. CJ79,

    It sounds like the display connector isn’t seated all the way on the logic board. The cable is pretty rigid, and needs to be folded back when reinstalling the LCD glass assembly. Otherwise it likes to just pop out of the logic board connector.

    Definitely check out iFixit Answers if you have more questions like this in the future! http://www.ifixit.com/Answers

    Comment by miro — February 2, 2010 @ 6:02 pm

  23. Thanks for the writeup, everything worked out great.

    Comment by Tony D — March 15, 2010 @ 3:29 pm

  24. Is the glass the same size for the 3g and the 3gs? if not, what are the dimensions for each?

    Comment by hc — April 7, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

  25. [...] [...]

    Pingback by Fuck Off - Page 745 - DesignersTalk — April 14, 2010 @ 4:59 am

  26. [...] [...]

    Pingback by Fuck Off - Page 746 - DesignersTalk — April 15, 2010 @ 7:58 am

  27. Nice one! By the way your story is funny. It’s not hard to think that it will really happen. And thanks also for the information that we can change parts of the iPhone (not to mention, iPhone parts are hefty). If I encountered any problems with my iPhone. You will be the first one that i’ll contact. Regards!

    Comment by iPhone spy app — April 24, 2010 @ 8:10 am

  28. An excellent write-up and must have tutorial for any broken iPhone. Very well written up and great pics, many many thanks!

    Comment by free iphone 3gs please — May 4, 2010 @ 7:10 am

  29. [...] Bill’s pick is iFixit iPhone Screen Replacement [...]

    Pingback by The CastRoller Blog » Blog Archive » CastRoller Podcast 29: Social Mobile — May 4, 2010 @ 1:38 pm

  30. This is going to be so useful! I’ve been using it today, and it really helps me keep my iPhone looks as if it is new..

    Comment by Mitch — May 11, 2010 @ 7:20 pm

  31. I like it, I did it. But I think the ifixit replacement units are made of plastic, not of glass. The new front panel scratches like crazy :(

    Comment by Jeroenw — May 23, 2010 @ 8:01 am

  32. [...] Only time will tell if they absorb shock as poorly as the iPhone 3GS. [...]

    Pingback by Check out the iPhone 4 Teardown by iFixit | Dailyitech — June 23, 2010 @ 12:31 am

  33. [...] 2. Do it Yourself part 2 The Glass screen will cost you around $70 and the LCD is $99, all you need is a suction cup and small screwdriver. Fortunately, Apple changed their design and the iPhone 3G front panel glass is not glued to the LCD  behind it. You can read the deinstallation procedure here. [...]

    Pingback by All about iPhone screen repair, DIY or using third party service | ExtraOrdinary World is Here! — July 24, 2010 @ 1:56 am

  34. [...] nécessaires à cette opération.Pour suivre la méthode complète en images, c’est par ICI et la vidéo est par LA ! Attention, ne vous lancez dans cette aventure que si vous êtes sûr(e) [...]

    Pingback by Tuto iPhone : Remplacer la Vitre Cassee (images) — December 6, 2010 @ 11:14 pm


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