Jun 18, 2010

cracked screens

As if a sign from above that I should buy the new iPhone 4, my iPhone 3G took an unfortunate spill onto the concrete floor of the subway last week. I've done this before with no harm done. This time was different. The top glass shattered. It stayed in place and, amazingly, it still worked. But it was operating on borrowed time.

Normally I would have just waited it out until the new phone came out but since my kids are addicted to it I wanted a spare iPhone around for them. That meant replacing the top glass and digitizer. There are a lot of how-tos on the web to do this and it's a pretty straightforward process. It's also surprisingly cheap. Well cheap compared to what Apple wants. A glass/digitizer replacement if you take it in Apple? $200!!! Ordering the parts you need and doing it yourself? $9. Crazy! That would be the Apple tax.

I learned two things in the process.
  1. Mobile phone technology is amazing!  It's really incredible how small some of these components have become.  Replacing the digitizer requires a pretty significant disassembly of the phone so you get to see a lot of what is inside.  The connectors on the LCD and digitizer are unbelievably small. It actually makes fixing the phone hard because everything is so damn fiddly.  The camera, the microphone, the receiver?  Some of these parts are so small it's hard to imagine they can do anything.  Amazing stuff.
  2. I have a terrible habit of taking things apart and having trouble putting them back together again.  I've always been excited about taking stuff apart much to my mom's consternation.  So excited I don't actually sit down and plan out what I'm doing.  My way around this habit now is to use a standard approach.  I have a large roll of paper and I roll this out and tape it to my work surface.  The purpose of this is two-fold.
    1. It allows me to take notes and draw diagrams about alignment, how something connects to something else, which orientation things should be, and so forth.  If you look closely below you can see my outlines of the phone and notes next to it.  No more "oh shit where did this piece come from?"
    2. More importantly it allows me to tape small fiddly components (screws) to the paper work surface.  This is huge.  No longer do I have to worry about screws getting mixed up or rolling off onto the floor.
  3. My eyesite is definitely going.
The system works well. And the transplant was a success.

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