How to change an iPhone 4s screen

Everybody knows someone with a cracked iPhone screen – not because iPhones are badly made or anything like that, but because there are just so many people with iPhones.

Sadly not too many people opt for insurance though, and with good reason – on paper it can be a bit of a rip off; it’s only when you experience a serious problem that you realise that it’s not too bad of a deal.

A cracked screen doesn’t have to be a serious problem though. Obviously it makes using your phone a nightmare…but it’s something you can fix yourself if you don’t have insurance, or if you didn’t opt into Apple’s care package (also expensive).

What you’ll need

This post will tell you how to fix the screen on a 4s. Every model in the iPhone range is slightly different, and this method might not work for other phones. Feel free to make a judgement call and try anyway, but we can’t be held responsible if it doesn’t work out (and of course we can’t be held responsible if you do any more damage to your device).

You can get most of the parts and tools you need from sites like ebay, amazon or helpingu2save.co.uk

As well as your phone, you’ll need:

  • A small Phillips screwdriver
  • A security screwdriver (a very fine screwdriver; you’ll need this as many variants of the iPhone 4 have a new style of screw that the Phillips can’t remove)
  • A spudger tool (a type of flat screwdriver used for prying; slightly softer and usually made of nylon so it won’t scratch the phone)
  • A paperclip to get the SIM out (you’re not supposed to get at the SIM in an iPhone, unlike in most other makes, so it’s naturally harder to get the SIM card out)
  • A replacement digitizer and LCD assembly

What you do

  1. Firstly, power off your iPhone. Don’t attempt this while it’s switched on.
  2. Use your security screwdriver (see above) to take out the screws on the bottom. They’re situated at either side of the connector on the 4s.
    *Note* – don’t lose the screws! They are the same, so it doesn’t matter if the get muddled up, but you’ll still need both of them when you’re putting the phone back together.
  3. Slide up the plate on the back, lift it off, and put it to one side.
  4. Remove the screws next to the battery using your Phillips head screwdriver. These ones are different so don’t mix them up!
  5. There’s a grounding clip underneath the battery holding it in (we said they make it difficult to take out!) – this is what your spudger tool is for (see above). Remove it before you go any further (and don’t lose it!)
  6. Remove the battery – again we recommend using the spudger tool. It’s more accurate and you’re less likely to damage anything. Again, in the name of making things difficult, Apple will stick down the battery with a LOT of glue, so be careful not to break your battery.
  7. Remove the screws at the top. All of them. These are holding the top silver shield and the small black shield in place. There’ll be five of them altogether.
  8. Pull up the silver shield, and then the black shield. In that order.
  9. Remove the seven cables connecting the camera. This is easier than it sounds, and we recommend using your spudger.
  10. Remove the camera (obviously don’t lose it!)
  11. Disconnect the dock connecter. You’ll need to use your Phillips head screwdriver, and remember which screws are which as they are different sizes.
  12. Pry up the cable connecting the dock connector to the phone. Again there’ll be glue on it so be careful not to do any damage. You don’t need to remove it completely, just gently bend it so it’s out of the way.
  13. Pry up the connection for the antenna. It will be lose and come up fairly easily.
  14. Remove the SIM tray using a paper clip.
  15. Remove the logic board. It’s pretty big – you won’t miss it. There are screws at the top, middle and bottom of the phone connecting it – five altogether – and then pry up the board.
  16. Remove the loud speaker (two more screws for your Phillips).
  17. Pry up the vibrator. It will have glue on it so be careful.
  18. Now, hold up the iPhone (screen facing you) and use your spudger to pry the top left corner of the screen out of its holding. Once it’s loose, repeat this for the top right, and then the bottom left and right. Then, pull off the screen (digitizer). Be careful not to tangle up the cables in it.
  19. Transfer everything to the new assembly you ordered (start with the home button, speaker mesh and camera hold). These can be lifted without too much effort using your spudger.
  20. Do all of the above, in the exact opposite order. Put everything back!

What you don’t do

If the above doesn’t make sense to you, don’t attempt this. You can get it done by a professional for FAIRLY cheap, and you can’t buy a new iPhone for fairly cheap, so if there’s even the slightest chance that you think you might break it…don’t try. Taking risks is what got you into this mess in the first place.

For additional tips check out ifixit.