Header Ads Widget

Responsive Advertisement

What Parts do You Need to Make Your Own iPhone?

What Parts do You Need to Make Your Own iPhone?

I really want to make my own iPhone, but I don't know what parts I need. Can you make me a list? And right now I happen to have an iPhone 7 that I've got completely taken apart on my desk sitting in front of me for another project so I figured we'd go through each of the parts one by one, and I'll tell you what I know.

So you might be asking why an iPhone 7, why not an iPhone 8 or an iPhone X? And one of the answers is that just happens to be what I've got taken apart in front of me right now. But the second and more important answer is if you want to build a phone from scratch, if you want to go and buy all of the individual parts, you can't pick a phone that's too new. And the reason for that is that a lot of these parts are used.

They're coming out of phones manufactured by Apple and sold to people so you gotta wait for them to either break their phone or sell it to get a new one. And if you're trying to do that on the very newest phone, there just aren't that many parts available. There are a bunch of parts that make up an iPhone.



There are really only 4 main parts.

  • 1. Case
  • 2. Logic board
  • 3. The screen
  • 4. The battery


Logic board

This is really the most important part. It's kind of the part of the phone, the brain of the phone. It's got the processor, it's got the RAM, it's got storage on it, and it's got the majority of the electronics are on here.

Now, this also means it's the most expensive part and it's the hardest part to get. It's also the part you least want to damage, which is unfortunate because it's probably the most fragile part. The other big thing you need to know is about touch ID buttons.

What Parts do You Need to Make Your Own iPhone?

Touch ID buttons are paired cryptographically to the logic board. So if you want a working home button, even if you don't want a working touch ID, if you want a working home button that you can press, go back to home, you need the button that goes with the logic board. You cannot buy a separate home button and have that work. Only Apple can replace home buttons and re-cryptographically pair them.

Now, logic boards are almost always real. I've never seen a fake logic board.

Apple is the only one that can make processors for iPhones so you're not gonna see a fake logic board, but you might see a repaired logic board and the repairs can vary in quality. So it's important to check when you buy a board that you just check that the components are there, but there's no sort of dodgy wires running around the board where there shouldn't be.

One thing that makes it that a little bit harder is that there are these shields that cover the processor and a good portion of the components on both sides. So you have to take a little bit of faith of what's going on beneath these covers, but more importantly, you want to test it. I've seen the phone repair guys and the people who buy and sell phones and logic boards in the markets, the tests that they do to test all of the various features.


Screen

This is the 2nd most expensive part of a phone. Usually, it'll come sort of partially assembled. So the backlight digitizer, 3D touch, and the LCD itself are all already laminated together, but there are a bunch of other parts that you have to add on like the front camera on the Touch ID button. There's a backplate that goes on here, I'll talk through all of those. One thing to be careful of is to not tear these cables. They're super fragile and it really sucks when you tear them because it's expensive to either replace them or repair them.

What Parts do You Need to Make Your Own iPhone?

In terms of the different types of screens you can buy, you can buy original screens either new or refurbished. You can also get aftermarket screens. They're obviously cheaper. They vary in quality. I've seen ones that I couldn't tell the difference between the aftermarket screen and an original screen. I've also seen really crappy ones.


Adhesive gasket

What Parts do You Need to Make Your Own iPhone?

One of the things you'll need when you're putting the screen on the phone is you'll need an adhesive gasket, particularly if you want it to be waterproof or you want to try and make it as waterproof as possible, definitely need this. This is sort of a crazy contraption that it's got a bunch of different tear-off strips but basically, once you tear all the pieces off, I think you tear the big part off first and then stick it down with the other parts still attached so it keeps its shape, you stick it down into the case and then tear off the top and you can put the screen on.


Battery

What Parts do You Need to Make Your Own iPhone?


Pretty simple part. It's just got a little connector on it, plugs into the logic board. There's not a lot to say. They're cheap, they're like 5 bucks-ish here in the markets. You can get new ones from Apple, you can get used ones that were made by Apple and you can get aftermarket batteries. I try and get just Apple ones. I don't really know always what I'm getting, but they'll throw it on a battery tester in the market, show it's holding a charge, that's usually good enough for me.


Battery strips

What Parts do You Need to Make Your Own iPhone?


When you're installing the battery, you're gonna need some battery strips. These are adhesive that holds the battery down. They're special in the sense that they're stretchy adhesive so that you can get the battery back out. I'm screwing these up, but you can see like... That's not how you do it, but they're stretchy. They go underneath and then the black tab wraps around the top.

And it's so that when you go to take it out, you pull and stretch the adhesive and it gradually comes unglued so you don't have to like pry up the battery and risk damaging it and then blowing up in your face and be permanently disfigured for life and all that good stuff so make sure you got battery strips.

So technically, these three parts make up an MVP, a minimum viable phone. You can boot an iPhone with just a screen, a logic board, and a battery. You don't even really need the battery if you've got the like desktop power supply and correct connectors. That being said, the obvious major part that we haven't talked about is of course the case.

It's got the Apple logo, it keeps everything safe inside both from physical damage, but also from water damage. It tries to keep things as water-resistant as possible.


It also is the antennas of the phone.

So these metal pieces here are isolated via these plastic strips on the top and bottom and are the antennas, one cellular and one's wifi, I think? It also is where all of the stuff inside the phone mounts with screws. So there's all these mounted points all within the case here on the sides. These things are actually pretty complex in terms of how they're designed and engineered.

What Parts do You Need to Make Your Own iPhone?




Button covers

I wanted to quickly talk about the button covers cause this honestly has been one of the things that's tripped me up the most when dealing with cases. You'll get a little or you should get a little plastic bag with the button covers and the SIM card tray that go with the case, they're all the right colors.

What Parts do You Need to Make Your Own iPhone?

But there are a bunch of other little pieces that you need that are sort of considered to be part of the case. So there's a little clip here that holds the back camera in. There's a lens cover, just a little piece of glass that goes over the rear camera. There's similarly another one for the flash, there's a little vent for whatever sensor goes in there, and then there's some vents down at the bottom for the speaker and the barometric vent over here.

You may or may not get those with your case. Usually, all of those are installed.


Little wires

The thing that's really tripped me up has been the little wires that go... These go onto the back of the button covers. And then there's a clip that holds the button cover in on the iPhone 7 and then this has a little tiny metal shim on it. And they're sometimes hard for me to find in the market, I just sort of having to ask somebody if they have some spare ones. I'm sure there's a place that I can buy them. It's always been like the hardest, most frustrating thing. I didn't know I needed these initially.


Rubber gaskets

What Parts do You Need to Make Your Own iPhone?

The other thing is that there are rubber gaskets on the legs of the button covers and usually they won't already have the gaskets on them when you get the case. I guess they just sort of assume that you're like swapping cases on a phone and that you're gonna transfer the gaskets over. So that's something to be aware of, all these little pieces.

We've talked about the major four components of the phone and that leaves us with everything else and everything else is relatively cheap. There's a lot of parts and it's very detail-oriented. There's a lot of parts that you gotta track down and you gotta get the right ones. I have always ended up a few parts short when I've tried to do this, which being here in Shenzhen, it's very convenient to go pick one up.

If you're trying to do this mail order, it would be much more frustrating. So I'm gonna try and take you through as much as I can and try and explain all of the pieces.


Cameras

What Parts do You Need to Make Your Own iPhone?

The first thing kind of major obvious thing is cameras. So the back camera, they're not super cheap, I want to say like 10 bucks. I could be wrong on that. And then the front camera is sort of this cable assembly that has some other stuff in it. I think the flash microphone, no, there's no flash. There's an ambient light sensor and a microphone and pickups for the earpiece speaker and then plugs into the logic board.


Cables

So there are two major flex cable assemblies that go in the back of the case. This one, so there's a top and a bottom. This is the top, this is the bottom. The top one has the buttons for volume, the lock button, flash, microphone, and then plugs into the logic board. The bottom flex cable has a lightning jack and has two different microphones. It has an antenna cable, pickups for the speaker. On these bottom flex cables, you can find both refurbished original ones, amped copies.

What Parts do You Need to Make Your Own iPhone?

I don't know, I would say try and get originals if you can. I was getting originals when I was doing the headphone jack modification because I really cared about the quality of the parts in this and I really wanted consistency. I've seen some really low-quality copies where the parts weren't even soldered properly to the board. The price really isn't that different, these are like 5 bucks, like 35 kuai. Just get the original set if you can.


Speaker

What Parts do You Need to Make Your Own iPhone?

The speaker that sits on top of some contacts on the bottom flex cable and then peels off the screw here, the taptic engine, this is what makes it vibrate. And it actually is also what gives the home button a button feel.

What Parts do You Need to Make Your Own iPhone?

The home button on a 7 doesn't actually move at all, it's just a sensor. And so the taptic engines sort of kicks back at you when you push the home button.


Metal plate

What Parts do You Need to Make Your Own iPhone?

There's also this metal plate. It's just a shielding plate. This gets screwed onto the back of the phone. This doesn't seem to come with the screens usually, you have to have this separate.


That brings us next to kind of a broad category of brackets.


Brackets

So there's metal brackets. There's also plastic brackets. I'm sure there's engineering reasons why they want metal brackets in some places, plastic brackets in another, but ultimately it's all to just hold stuff in place. There's also brackets that connect things electrically together so they sort of bridge like the antenna lines in the case to electrically connect the logic board to the actual antenna strip.

Brackets obviously you need all of them. You need most of them, a lot of them are actually optional. I have assembled fairly working phones with way, not enough brackets, but if you're gonna use the phone a lot, they're just to prevent stuff from shifting around and getting unplugged when you don't want it to, increase reliability.

Again, it's one of those things, if you're testing, you can get away without a lot of them, but if you're really gonna use the phone, carry it around and you really do want all of them installed.

What Parts do You Need to Make Your Own iPhone?

There are a bunch of them. I don't really want to go through each one in too much depth cause I don't think it's super interesting but here's a graphic sort of listing all of them and showing you what they look like and roughly kind of where they go on the phone.

What Parts do You Need to Make Your Own iPhone?




Screws

There are tons of tiny screws in an iPhone. Not only are they tiny and there are a bunch of them, they're a bunch of different types. So there are Phillips's heads, there are tri-tip. There are these standoff screws that are... I don't even know what they're called, they got a cross on top and then they've got a screw thread on top and then a screw on the bottom. And then there are the pentalobe screws on the outside, but not only that, there are a bunch of different diameters and lengths. It's a lot to keep straight.

So my recommendation is to buy a complete kit of screws for an iPhone 7 and then sort them out as you go.

But not only that, I would recommend that you buy at least two sets, maybe even three. I spent a lot of time chasing screws on the ground. You'll definitely drop some or accidentally fling them across the room and they're really hard to find. There are a bunch of different types of screws and it's really important to use the correct one in the correct place. You can damage things by using the wrong screw.

Most notably on at least the iPhone 6S, there's at least one screw that if you put in a screw that's too long, you can destroy the logic board in a way that it cannot be repaired. So it's really important to pay attention to screw diameter, screw lengths. Make sure you're putting the right screw in the right spot. And that's about it. That's all the parts you need to assemble a working iPhone 7.


Where do I get all this stuff?

I have bought all of the parts for the phones that I built here in the electronics markets in Shenzhen, China. They're the largest wholesale electronics markets, largest cell phone parts markets in the world. I don't really know of many other places in the world like this, certainly nothing as big as this. If there is something, I'd love to hear about it.

You can find literally any iPhone part you could possibly want here being sold by a bunch of different vendors for extremely competitive prices, but you really need to be able to speak a bit of Chinese and understand how the market works and understand how to navigate it.

It's a professional wholesale market. It's not really set up for first-time tourists to come in and buy so it takes a bit of patience, a bit of learning to be able to come here and buy parts.


What if you can't come to Shenzhen to the markets here for whatever reason, what do you do then?

Let me start off just by being frank and say please don't ask me to go to the markets and buy parts for you and send them to you. I'm just too busy with my own projects and making articles for you guys to be able to go on a whole bunch of shopping errands for people and I'm just really not set up to be a parts broker.


I have heard there are some good alternatives.

Now, I don't really know because I've only bought parts here in the markets in China, but I've heard that AliExpress is a good source as well as eBay. And then of course you can salvage parts from used broken phones. So whether it's buying something on Craigslist in the U.S. or whether it's getting a broken phone from friends or family, that's another option as well.


How much does all this cost?

And really the honest answer is it depends a lot on where you buy it and when you buy it. The prices fluctuate a lot based on supply and demand. Obviously, as time goes on, parts for a given phone model will get cheaper as that phone... As more and more phones of that model get broken and the parts get parted out or get resold as well as demand for that model goes down.


Where you buy it matters a lot.

So the prices that I pay here in the markets are probably about as low as you're gonna get just because of the volume of trade that's happening here and how much just intense competition there is in the markets. The further you get away from here, the more middlemen dealing with, the more things are going through customs and duties and shipping and people have to make a profit along the way.

So don't take the prices that I'm going to tell you now as sort of gospel. If you're somewhere else outside of China, you may be paying a very different price and it may not be because people are ripping you off, it's because they're trained to pay their rent and eat... I'm sorry, they're having to do things like pay for very expensive shipping.


I'll just give you a couple anchor prices for sort of the big 4 parts.

So again, I told you before, the logic board is by far the most expensive part. I don't have an exact price on iPhone 7 logic boards with touch ID buttons right now. What I will say is the price is dependent on whether or not it has a Touch ID button. If it doesn't have one, obviously it's cheaper. It's dependent on the size of the storage. Obviously, 128 is gonna be more expensive than 16 gigs. And then a little bit based on what radios it has like whether it supports CDMA or not and what country it's from, and you get very minor price differentiation or price differences.


Logic boards

I can give you sort of an anchor price which is last year when I was buying iPhone 6S logic boards, it's probably maybe a year and a half ago now, the price was like 1,250 RMB, which is like 200 bucks, a little under 200 bucks. So that's like a 16 gig iPhone 6S with a Touch ID button. It's probably cheaper than that now.

iPhone 7 boards, I'm gonna go on out on a limb and say those are probably about the same price in that just looking at the product curves, I think 7 is sort of where 6S was back at the time. I don't know, it could be a lot more, it could be a lot less. It's probably somewhere in that ballpark though.


Screens

I just asked a seller in the market who's a fan of the channel actually. I asked him what a typical price for a refurbished Apple screen is, so original Apple parts, but it's been refurbished cracked screen. He said like about 300 RMB, a bit under 50 bucks.


Batteries

I said they're about 30 RMB so a little under five bucks. And then cases like pretty consistently, I get cases for like 120, 10 or 20 kuai on either side of that and pay as much as 140, 150 if it's something really special, it's like a brand new aftermarket case that has a cool design or as little as like... I don't know if we've ever paid 100, maybe I paid 110 before if it's something older and very stock and generic.

So those are the main prices of the main components, everything else, speaker, camera, brackets, it's all a couple of dollars here, a couple of dollars there. I think the camera's like 5 to 10. Brackets are super cheap, screws are super cheap, that kind of thing. Obviously, prices are gonna fluctuate depending on who you're getting this from. Your favorite cell phone distributor may be charging you a lot more than these prices. It's kind of the way it goes. It's the nature of wholesale trade and global trade.


How do I put all this together? Can you give me instructions?

My number one reference is actually ifixit.com. They have a bunch of guides for the repair of iPhones. Usually, they're tear down so they'll start with a complete phone and then take everything apart and they have really good photos and they have screw links in there, which is key so you can measure each screw and make sure that you're putting the right screw in the right place. I've used them for making my own iPhone, I use them as a reference, I still use them as a reference, they're awesome. They do sell parts, they're kind of expensive though.

Where to go buy them because again, it really depends on where you are. If you're in China, if you're in India, if you're in the U.S, it's all gonna be very different answers. I hope this has been helpful or at least interesting. Share it with others and also comment below.

Post a Comment

0 Comments

class='back-top' title='Back to Top'/>