How to replace a broken screen on your iPhone

Cracking your iPhone's front glass or the display might not stop it from working, but can make it difficult and unsafe to use. Here's a step-by-step guide to fixing a broken front panel on your iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S.

3. Remove the internal hardware

Before installing the new display assembly, you'll need to remove most of the iPhone's internal hardware—starting with the battery.

Credit: Bill Detwiler/CNET

Remove the battery connector screw and disconnect the connector from the motherboard. Carefully remove the tiny pressure contact located under the connector—noting its location and position for reassembly.

By pulling up on the battery's plastic pull tab, it should come loose from the frame.

Next, remove the metal shields that cover the upper portion of the motherboard and the docking connector cable. As you remove each screw, note its location. The screws are different lengths and will need to go back into their original position.

Now, disconnect and remove the rear camera and then detach all the cables along the top and side of the motherboard. You'll need to gently pry the docking connector cable away from the metal shield underneath.

Credit: Bill Detwiler/CNET

Remove the hidden motherboard screw located under the round white sticker near the battery pull tab, the screw under the docking connector cable at the bottom, and the metal standoff from the top near the headphone jack. Then remove the motherboard—lifting up from the bottom.

Credit: Bill Detwiler/CNET

Lastly, remove the speaker enclosure and vibration motor. (Note: The location of the vibration motor will vary depending on the phone's model and carrier.)

4. Remove the broken display assembly

At last, we can turn our attention to the broken display assembly. It's held to the metal frame with ten screws. Three along each side and one in each corner. You'll need to remove them all—keeping track of the washers under the six side screws.

Once the screws are removed, carefully insert a thin metal or plastic tool between the metal frame and front glass panel along either the top or bottom edge and gently pry the panel loose. (Note: Do not insert the tool too far or you may damage the phone's other internal components. And if the glass panel is cracked, take care not to injure yourself during the removal process.)

As you pull the panel away from the phone, you'll need to thread the two attached cables through the metal frame.

5. Install the new display assembly

First, remove the plastic film from the back of the display—if it has one. Then carefully thread the display cables back through the frame—making sure not to crimp them in the process.

Gently press the panel onto the frame and secure it with the appropriate screws and washers.

Credit: Bill Detwiler/CNET

6. Reassemble the iPhone

To reassemble the phone, work your way back through the previous steps. Start with the vibration motor, then install the speaker assembly, motherboard, rear camera, motherboard shields, battery, and finally the back cover.

As you work through the process, be careful not to damage any of the small metal contacts on the cable connectors, speaker assembly, or battery connector pressure contact.

As do-it-yourself fixes go, this one isn't too tough. It does however, take patience and attention to detail.

For more teardown photos of the iPhone, iPad, and other tech, check out my Cracking Open blog on TechRepublic.


Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

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