Replacing the screen on your iPhone 4

Last week, on my way to work I dropped my phone and broke the glass. I was riding my skateboard to work and wanted to check something on my phone. When I went to slide my phone back into my pocket, I missed and just dropped it on the ground… while moving. I stopped and walked back to pick up my phone just hoping it would be okay. It wasn’t okay. The cracked glass of the phone screen was staring up at me. It felt like one of those moments in a bad dream where something just terrible happens and you force yourself to wake up so it goes away. Unfortunately, I didn’t wake up and the screen was really broken. I tried using the phone and it seemed to work fine so I swore silently to myself, put it in my pocket, and continued on my way to work.

I was torn on what to do. The new iPhone should be coming out in a couple months. I could make due with the cracked screen. By the time I got to work I had made my decision. I immediately googled how to replace the iPhone 4 screen and stumbled upon this Gizmodo post. I ordered a new screen from as well as some of the tools I would need to actually do the repair. Instead of the black replacement screen, I decided to get a white one. That way it would at least give my phone a unique look.

For the next few days, I used my phone with the broken screen. It worked fine. Some things were hard to see and when I swiped my finger across the broken glass I’m pretty sure I got some glass splinters but it wasn’t too bad.

Yesterday, I got the package in the mail with my new screen and I got to work on the replacement. The screwdriver I bought was too big for the iPhone’s tiny screws. Luckily, my pocketknife had a small enough screwdriver. I followed the instructions of a YouTube video in the Gizmodo post and soon enough, my iPhone was laying in more than 50 pieces on my coffee table. So what happened?

I was really stressed out. What had I just done? How could I ever get all of that back together? The tiny screws were so hard to get out, putting them back in was going to be a nightmare. They were all different sizes and it was impossible to keep track of where they went. At this point, there really was no turning back and I pulled out the brand new white iPhone screen.

I started up the next video and began the tasks of reassembling the iPhone. Everything was going well until it came to actually plugging in the screen connector. The ribbon wasn’t long enough to reach the connector. I had just spent 3 hours taking apart my phone and putting it back together only to be foiled by a bad screen?

I disassembled the phone again and noticed that a piece of the connector ribbon had been folded behind the screen. This was also causing a little gap in the top of the screen when I reconnected it, which I originally attributed to buying a mediocre part. I also took this time to replace the dust guard on the earhole, since that doesn’t come on the screen. I popped it off the old screen and stuck it to the new one. Pro tip, don’t try and peel it off from the back, just push on it from the front and it will pop out.

So now I had taken apart my iPhone twice. Putting it together again was a little easier now. I had gotten more comfortable with the tiny screws and was starting to know my way around the inside of an iPhone pretty well. Towards the end of the rebuild though, I ran into another problem. Not all of my screws would go back in. They were either too small or too big. None of the ones I had left fit in some of the holes that I needed to fill in. So what did I do? Nothing. There are now two less screws in my iPhone than when I bought it. Not only are two screws missing. A small piece of metal/plastic seemed to have broken off of something and I couldn’t find anywhere that it was supposed to be. At this point, all I could do was close up the phone and turn it on. This was it, the moment of truth…

SUCCESS, the phone turned on and booted up. My apps were working and everything seemed fine until I noticed “No Service” staring at me from the upper left hand corner of my iPhone screen. I had just spent almost my whole night on replacing the screen only to break something else inside the phone? It didn’t seem fair. I took off the back of the phone and started taking it apart for the third time.

After removing just a couple of screws, I noticed a connector that I missed. Some googling told  me that it was the antenna. It seemed like that was the problem, but those extra pieces I had left over had me worried that I had actually just ruined my phone. I hooked up the antenna and turned on the phone. It turned on and my service was restored. I had successfully replaced the screen on my iPhone 4.

So what did I think of the experience? It was awful while doing it. It was so stressful seeing my phone lying there in pieces. I really thought I was going to ruin it. Now that I’m done, I’m proud to be able to say I can replace the screen of an iPhone. My advice to anyone wanting to try it? Hire someone else to do it.

P.S. – If you’ve cracked the back of your iPhone, replacing it is incredibly easy. You just remove two screws from the bottom and the back slides off. Replacing the battery is also very easy. There are two screws holding the connector in and once the back of the phone is off, you can get right to them. Any further than that and it gets scary and stressful.

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10 Responses to Replacing the screen on your iPhone 4

  1. carter says:

    wish could say i kno the feeling, purchased a screen n digitalizer from e bay organized the teardown in ocd fashion enjoying it to untill i noticed the vibration motor screw rounded off after a few gental screws so i still have a cracked screen

  2. Andy says:

    I did a screen replacement and found that my screen was either badly designed or for another carrier because the tabs on the side of it that bolt it to the phone didn’t fit. I didn’t feel like waiting another month for the correct screen to come, and the screen looked identical out side of a couple of the tabs so I improvised and broke them off with a pair of pliers and thinking that I would purchase a good tight fitting case for it to make up for the missing screws. I also had the same problem with pinching the ribbon. I don’t know if the ribbon was damaged or if the screen just isn’t compatible but now the Phone works and will even ring when you call it and th screen lights up but is black, a guy at a local cell phone accessory store that does the repair told me that you sometimes have to reset the screen by holding in on the power and home buttons, No luck. Don’t ever try to do this repair, it’s a pain in the a$$ and it’s easy to botch, just pay someone else to do it if you can.

  3. Jessica says:

    I found myself relating to EVERY word you said except, during some tear-down and reassembles I have found myself with TWO broken flex connectors.. absolutely NO idea what they go to, google is no help. and my phone won’t work :/ any advice?

  4. John says:

    One day I was running and I found an iPhone 4 lying on the ground with a COMPLETELY shattered screen and the LCD was almost leaking. So I called apple and told them what happened and they said I could keep it because The previous owner had gotten a new one and never labeled it as stolen property. I ordered the screen and I did the exact same thing that you did to replace the screen including the folded wire but when i turned the iPhone on it just lights up. No unlock icon or anything. Has this happened to anyone else’s screen? If so how do you fix it?

  5. Thanks for your post about your iphone screen replacements. Great information.

  6. Jordan says:

    I’ve recently done an iPhone screen replacement the first one I got off eBay was just the glass (I’d realized this after I took the phone apart) so I’d be phone less until the proper LCD arrived. Anyway it’s together and everything but instead of a working screen when I turn it on it comes up with lines running down the screen. Typing this into google brought up this article. Perhaps you can help me??

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  8. You guys are all dumb, I do this repair all the time, it’s incredibly easy if you just follow instructions and buy a screwmat to keep track of all the screws

  9. rachel says:

    I’ve just fixed the back of my daughters iphone 4s but the two little screws won’t go back in. Will this cause any problems. The back on very tight with no movement. How can I keep these screws in place ?

  10. Hi, I got over to your website via Reddit. Not something I normally read through, although I like your perspectives nonetheless. Thanks a ton for developing some thing worthy of reading through!

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