DIY iPhone Screen and LCD Replacement

This here’s the story of how I voided my warranty and fixed an iPhone 3G.

A few weeks ago my wife dropped her barely a few months old iPhone 3G on the kitchen floor and broke not only the glass digitizer on the front but also the LCD screen.


We took it to an Apple store and an AT&T store and both places gave us a chuckle and “man, that sucks”. Our friends at the AT&T store told us it would cost $199 just to replace the glass and that was only if we had Apple care. Since we didn’t have Apple care on her phone, they told us they wouldn’t even touch it.

Fortunately, not longer after that happened, I stumbled across Jason Beaird’s 3G Surgery post and got all inspired-like.

First, if you’re planning to do this yourself, there’s a few important things to consider: 1. these instructions are for the iPhone 3G only (the other ones are similar but slightly different), 2. I replaced both the glass digitizer (touchscreen) and the LCD screen, 3. this takes about an hour or two of your time, and 4. this totally voids your warranty.

That being said, here’s how it went down:

First, I ordered the replacement front glass/digitizer ($15) and a replacement LCD screen ($26) from Amazon.

Then, I watched this helpful video that Jason linked to in his post. Use it as a reference and you’ll really save yourself some headaches:

Then I went through the following steps:

1. Remove the two screws from the bottom of the iPhone and pop the sim card tray out of the phone. Then using a combination of the case prying tool and suction cup (that comes with the glass screen) remove the face from the phone. This caused me the most headache because I wasn’t paying close attention to the video and tried to actually pry the silver metal frame from the black plastic backing. What you should be doing is removing the glass panel that sits inside that metal frame along with the LCD screen and an internal bracket that hold it in place.


2. Carefully unhook cables 1, 2 and 3—in that order. The first two cables simply pop out, but for cable 3 you’ll need to flip up the white clamp that holds the cable in place and then slide it out. Set the back of the phone aside for now.

3. Remove the bracket screws that hold the glass digitizer and the LCD screen together. The video outlines this in detail, just be sure to slide the LCD screen’s bracket down and away when separating it because there’s a bracket holding it on the top right.

Broken Digitizer

4. Next up is to replace the actual LCD screen. I was intimidated by this at first, but it turned out to be of the easiest parts of the project. The LCD screen is actually held to the bracket with double-sided tape, so I just used a paperclip to separate the screen from the bracket and then just popped it off. Remove the adhesive backing from the new screen and attach it to the bracket. It’s now ready to be reattached to the digitizer bracket.

Dead Screen

5. We have to replace the glass before we can do that, though. This part takes the longest, but it’s not difficult. The glass on the front of your phone is held in place by a fairly strong epoxy, and it needs to be heated to loosened up. I held a hair dryer on high about an inch away from it for about 8 minutes. This loosened it up enough to pry out the majority of the glass, but I kept needing to hit it with heat to get out the smaller, broken pieces of glass left in the frame.

Glass Removed

6. Next up, apply the adhesive template to the frame you just cleaned. Once this is in place, remove the backing and press the new digitizer firmly in place. (Don’t forget to remove all those screen protectors at the right time!)

Applying adhesive

Reassemble! If you’ve done everything right, you should now be able to put all of your piece back together the way you took them apart (I had to nudge cable #3 with tweezers to get it in place). Pop the sim card back in and fire it up!

Two Become One

Hard to believe that for a little over $40 I did something that Apple is charging people almost $249 for. DIY FTW! Oh, and you should also check out the whole DIY iPhone Screen Replacement project album on Flickr.

Have you tried a screen or glass replacement on your iPhone? I’d love to swap stories. I’d love to hear about it in the comments!