My oldest daughter dropped her iPhone 3G breaking the touch screen under the glass (but not the glass). The iPhone display became snowy. I was asked to repair the unit.

Here’s a short chronicle of my experience.

First thing I did was research the problem, and hopefully the solution while I was at it.

I found this YouTube video and this repair kit and replacement LCD panel.

I watched the video in 480 HD to satisfy myself that I had the skill to actually complete the repair. Once I was happy that yes, I could do it, I then ordered the kit and replacement part. Once the goodies arrived, I watched the video a few more times in full screen view. In HD, I could see the little things, which helped a lot in avoiding trial and error with tiny parts, which could easily get lost, broken, misunderstood or simply forgotten.

Then, I made a list of the process. Here’s my listing of the steps:

  • remove SIM
  • remove 2 screws on the bottom
  • use suction cup to remove glass. Note where the hinge is on the video.
  • detach 3 ribbon cables – be very careful with these
  • remove screws: 3 on one side, 2 on other and 1 on top
  • start to pry in corner and then pull slide rails slightly apart
  • pry slide rails apart and the screen pops up
  • slide along glass (not like hinge)
  • check alignment of pins and mounting plate holes ***
  • remove adhesive and attach
  • curve the ribbon cable around the screwdriver
  • reattach to the glass (no dust!)
  • slide back in place / snap
  • replace screws in reverse order §
  • attach ribbons (#3, #2, #1) – note that some of these are labeled inside the phone
  • angle in the glass and it should pop in
  • attach screws in reverse order

Then, I laid out a big white table cloth, got my study lamp attached to the dining table so the work area was well lit. I then got the repair kit, the 3G, the replacement LCD, my notes, the laptop (so I could watch the video as required) and a cupcake tray for the screws.

So then I did the repair following the movie, stopping it, checking my notes and doing the work.

The only mistake I made was NOT noticing that there are two ways to align the pins and mounting plate (*** above). So naturally, I installed them in the wrong way. How I noticed it was the screws didn’t align with the screw holes (§ above). So I retraced the few steps and tried it the other way and bingo. Perfect alignment.

Things to keep in mind.

  1. The screws are really, really tiny.
  2. Take your time. Everything is so tiny and fragile so be patient to get it exactly right. Having a loose screw won’t be a problem in many board games or kids toys, but it would be a disaster for a touch screen smartphone.
  3. Be prepared. Then prepare again. And one more time to make sure you’ve got it.

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