Malleable Musings

December 13, 2009

Back to the dark ages

Filed under: iphone — Brendan @ 12:02 am

I’ve been an iPhone 3G user for around 13 months. Unfortunately it totally stopped working a week ago.

It was probably inevitable really. I’m just too clumsy with this sort of device (the kids aren’t much better either). I’d dropped the phone several times in the first week or two of having it. At first it seemed to bounce really well. Each time I’d nervously pick it up off the floor and be amazed that it seemed undamaged (although the 3G reception was never as good as that on my friends’ iPhones).

However about a month in to the 18 month contract it fell for what must have been the tenth time. It was probably the smallest fall to date – it fell from a height of a few inches, on to a padded lino floor, however it was enough to smash the screen.

It just seemed to fall awkwardly and the cracks appeared around the speaker. At first the cracks were fairly small and didn’t interfere at all with the screen. However over the past year the cracks got larger and eventually stretched down over the screen area. They also widened and were soon large enough that pieces of the glass worked themselves free and fell from the phone.

Unfortunately last weekend the phone either had another fall a few days ago or the glass got snagged and the digitizer got scratched. Effectively this meant that the touchscreen stopped working.

My initial reaction was that I’d put through a claim on my household insurance but given my excess was £50, and I would have lost my no claims bonus when I found someone who provided a quote for £55 to repair the phone I had second thoughts. (As an aside the Apple warranty is apparently twelve months and wouldn’t cover damage caused by falls in any case. O2 helpfully suggested that I could pay something like £140 to buy myself out of my current contract and then get a new GS on a contract at £35/month.)

I’d just backed up the phone and wiped all my personal data (reset the phone) and removed the SIM card when I found some videos on YouTube showing how I could repair the phone myself.

I found an air freshener with a sucker that I could use to open up the phone casing as I didn’t have a case opener tool shown in the video. I also found a UK based shop that sent me the digitiser glass and some adhesive (it cost around £15) and I did the job myself. I ordered the parts at 11.00pm on Wednesday 9th – and they had arrived on Friday 12th. So on Friday night when I got home from a work Christmas do I spent twenty minutes or so putting the phone together.

The screen repair worked really well. In fact if I’d known it was that easy and cheap to do I would have done it months ago.

However whilst I had the phone’s case open I discovered a reason why the reception wasn’t that great. One of the pins on the SIM junctor was broken – presumably it had been broken for a while and was being held in place by a SIM card that had never been taken out before. Unfortunately because the pin was missing it wasn’t recognising the SIM card. So I went to bed on Friday night with an iTouch with a Camera.

As this video shows replacing the SIM junctor is slightly more technical job (requiring a bit of soldering work). So on Saturday I started downloading a bit of software on to my work Samsung SGH-i200 (Windows Mobile) phone in the anticipation that I might be using that more over the next couple of months until my iPhone contract comes to an end.

However this evening I took the iPhone apart again and have managed to bodge a connection with a piece of 30A fuse wire jammed between the SIM card and the junctor.

It seems to do enough to give me full signal strength although it is only showing a GPRS data connection. I think this will do me until my contract comes to an end, as I mainly use the iPhone as a data device over work and home wifi. I’ll live with the slower internet connection to gain all of the iPhone’s advantages over the Samsung and Windows Mobile.

However when the contract does come to an end in 5 months time I might forget about a mobile phone and just look to see if a mifi solution will work for me.



  1. That doesn’t sound good. I’ve dropped mine once or twice – the first big one just last week when I mishandled it picking it up of my work desk.

    I’ve had a few issues with the iPhone of late – most noticeably the sounds just stops working randomly so I have to reboot the handset. Gina’s loses Wifi abilities from time to time or just locks up – I suspect hers has been dropped more regularly.

    I had been wondering for the last few weeks if it was jailbreak related, but I doubt it. I do remember reading a while ago that Apple manufacture their iPod’s to only have a lifespan of 12 months – anything beyond that is a bonus. This said, I was under the impression that electronic devices were, by law, required to be manufacturer supported for a period of 5 years?

    Good job on the repair. I think I’d have done the same as you, or if not that, handed it over to my Dad to do the same since he’s had a tiny bit of experience merging two handsets into one – albeit not an iPhone.

    Comment by Rob — December 21, 2009 @ 10:29 am

  2. Hi Rob, thanks for the comment. The repair was very straightforward. The iPhone seems to be fairly modular unlike many other phones and the pieces now seem to be easy enough to pick up off the net. Your Dad would certainly have no problem given his background.

    Comment by Brendan — December 22, 2009 @ 1:00 am

  3. im having the same identical problem with the3g sim card junctor. i would lke to see your video but its private and this is the only “tutorial” ive been able to find on the net.

    Comment by danny — December 22, 2009 @ 6:00 pm

  4. Hi Danny,

    The video you want is

    it’s linked in the post. I didn’t do this as I thought it was too technical and I’m not that great with a soldering iron. Instead I managed to jam a piece of thick wire between the SIM card and the contact on the 3g sim card junctor.

    This seems to work well enough for my needs.

    Good luck with your repair!


    Comment by Brendan — December 22, 2009 @ 6:30 pm

  5. […] and confirmed to me that I could handle the repair myself (I’d previously managed to replace my iPhone screen and the NC-10 looked equally as […]

    Pingback by I can haz teh interwebz « Malleable Musings — May 1, 2010 @ 12:57 am

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