Seen a lot of threads of people wondering how to restore an iPhone so I decided to make a DIY guide
Also pretty helpful if you want to de-brand your iPhone :P
My previous iPhone was stolen at the gym, low on funds I decided to buy the cheapest iPhone I could find that worked regardless of condition. I found an iPhone 3G that had being completely abused and had a dark spot on the LCD. On the second picture notice the gouge on the right side, out of of all the blemishes it was the deepest) Still I ended up buying the phone for a really good price
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Step 1: Background
My previous iPhone was stolen at the gym, low on funds I decided to buy the cheapest iPhone I could find that worked regardless of condition. I found an iPhone 3G that had being completely abused and had a dark spot on the LCD. On the second picture notice the gouge on the right side, out of of all the blemishes it was the deepest) Still I ended up buying the phone for a really good price (first two pics)
My first attempt at restoring it was a mild success, since I used mild sandpapers/rushed. But you can see that even with 800 grit sandpaper and about an hour I got it looking better, but it still had tons of deep dents and scratches. (third picture )
Step 2: Warning
Warning Warning Warning Warning
Do this at your own risk. I am posting this here only to document how I restored a completely busted iPhone. One thing I should mention first is that iPhone Rear plastic has a scratch-resistant coating
The iPhone rear plastic is composed of the following
1) The most inside layer is a thin colored plastic ( black or white).
2) Above that is a clear polycarbonate plastic layer.
3) Above that is the apple logo and writing.
4) Above that finally is a pretty good layer of scratch-resistant coating.
If your phone only has a few light scratches, only use the most aggressive sandpaper you have to, in order to remove the scratches. My recommendation is that you try to remove 90-95% of scratches without trying to remove 100%. This way you keep the scratch-resistant coating, which will protect from future scratches.
Rule of thumb, if you see that you are removing the apple logo, or that you start seeing a darker plastic you have gone too far ( Look at #1)
On my phone I had to remove all the scratch-resistant coating because it was completely covered in deep scratches. It scratches a lot easier now, so if you can avoid doing so, please leave the scratch-resistant coating on.
Step 3: Restoring the Back (Wetsanding Guide)
This is a complete and comprehensive wetsanding guide. If you have never wetsanded before, or wonder why you never get good results this should help. This will let you restore anything that is plastic, or using harder/ finer grits you can polish metal/aluminum/painted parts. It's a bit long, but I think the tips here will help you get great results.
Sandpaper 320(or 500),800,1000,1500,2000,2500,3000 grit
3M Rubbing compound
Machine Polisher ( Power Drill or small buffer)
Sticky tack and or tape
If you want to save time and money I recommend just purchasing a 3M headlight restoration kit (available at almost all car part stores)
It will have almost everything you need, but you still need to buy 1000,1500 and 2000 grit sandpaper + a microfiber on the side
Step 4: Step 1: Drysand With First Grit
(always when sanding keep a thumb/finger above the camera to avoid scratching the glass lens ! )
Dry sand with the least aggressive sandpaper needed to remove scratches. If you have deep scratches you may have to go down to 320-800, but if you have light scratches, 1000 or 1500 might be enough. The way you test this is first select a fine grit sandpaper, and see if it gets rid of most of the scratches. If you still see deep scratches, try the next most aggressive grit, etc. For me I had to go all the way down to 320 grit. This first step is really time intensive, but make sure you don't use water, on the first step because it tends to hide scratches. When you dry sand you can see all the fine sanding marks you are making which allows you to see the scratches you haven't removed. Dry sanding clogs sandpaper, but you can either buy more sandpaper or wash the sandpaper in water and dry it before you use it. Before you finish this first step, make sure all your sanding marks are in one direction; you'll see why later.
Step 5: Step 2: Wetsand With Remaining Grits
1) Use very little water when you wetsand ( don't want to kill you iPhone)
2) Make sure the previous sanding marks are completely gone before moving on to the next higher grit
The 2nd point is important, and the reason many people get poor results when wetsanding. It's a simple technique but it takes practice/patience to get right. But here are some tips:
a) Before moving on to a higher grit make sure all your sanding lines are in the same direction. When you first start sanding the part you can sand in any direction you want, but before you move to a higher grit make sure to sand the entire part down in one direction
b) When you have moved to your next higher grit you don't have to sand in a single perpendicular direction (a common myth). Just try to sand the part down as best you can in any direction. However Before you move on to a higher grit, make sure you sand perpendicular to the grit you before. This will let you know where you have to keep sanding before moving on.
So if your last sanding marks using 800 grit were left to right , the last sanding marks on 1000 should be top to bottom, then 1500 should be left to right, etc
c) Before you move on, dry the part a bit, to make sure all the previous sanding marks are gone ( again water tends to hide scratches )
The most time consuming jumps for me were sanding 800grit lines with 1000 grit , and the 1000 grit lines with 1500 grit. These two are time consuming steps , but make sure you take your time, because the finer grit sandpapers will be unable to remove these deep marks (especially 800 grit lines).
When wetsanding the phone it should look like below, not too much water and a slight white film. I kept all my wetsanding paper in a bowl of water, and then dried it on a towel on my lap before using it on the phone. You want the paper to be wet, but not running !
First picture = wet
Second Pic = after 1500
Third Pic = After 3000
In all these pictures you will notice a few things
a) All the sanding marks are in one direction, and you can see that there are Zero sanding marks in any other direction.
b) The phone is dry
You may be wondering why all my sanding marks are lengthwise. When I wetsand I still follow what I said above ( last step is to sand in the perpendicular direction to make sure all the previous sanding marks are gone) but then additionally I lightly sand in the longest dimension of the part, this helps me make sure I haven't left any deep sanding marks of the similar grit ( ie, I lightly sand 1000 grit sanding line with 1000grit sandpaper so that sanding with 1500 is easier)
Step 6: Step 3: Cover Openings
Before you start polishing make sure you cover up your headphone port, volume buttons, vibrate button and 30 pin dock with sticky tack (that blue stuff). You can cover the camera glass, but the polishing compounds are not abrasiveness enough to scratch it (unlike the sandpaper). Sticky tack is easy to apply, and come off in one piece. Tape will probably work too but I found that the tape kept lifting off when I was buffing. Refer to the #2 in the following picture (the gray stuff)
Step 7: Step 4: Polish
I used two kinds of polishes (using one will work, but you will have to repeat it multiple times/results will vary)
I used the Orange 3m pad with 3M rubbing compound on a power drill
You can sanding halo marks
You can then finish with the 3M rubbing compound using a microfiber and you will get almost near perfect results !
If you have access detailing products or a friend who details cars
I polished with a blue 3M Pad with Meguair's 205 paint polish ( you can also use Scratch-x since its pretty mild polish).
I then finished with some Meguair's NXT 2.0 wax
Results = completely flawless mirror finish
Last two Pics
Step 8: Restoring the Front
Not a comprehensive guide ( sure you can find a video or guide online) but I posted a few tips that I read from different users online, especially the ones that make things easier/lower risk of damaging your iPhone.
Heat gun ( or a blow dryer)
Compressed Air ( I'm cheap so i use a small bike pump)
Suction cup ( i used one that was too big but still worked)
E-xacto blade ( or something flat and thin)
Small Phillips screwdriver
Replacement parts ( I replaced the LCD and front glass)
Step 9: Step 1 Opening IPhone
1) Take out two bottom screws (blue arrows)
2) Use suction cup ( place it around the home button) and flip the glass up
3) You will see connectors and numbers. Use the prying tool and lift the number one and number two connector. For the number three connector lift the flap and pull the screen away. ( Red arrows)
Remove LCD tray from Frame/Touchscreen
4) Remove the tape on the side of the LCD ( black)
5) Remove the remaining screws ( blue)
6) Use a prying tool on the side of the LCD tray to lift the LCD slightly
7) Once the lcd has been lifter slightly use that small little hole on the bottom to slide the LCD down. ( safest way to remove LCD)
Step 10: Step 2 Removing OLD LCD
1) You will have to unstick your old LCD from the aluminum tray ( this will ruin your OLD LCD, because the rear reflective material of the LCD will staty stuck to the LCD tray)
2) Remove old LCD reflective material (its like a mirror) and clean off the old adhesive
3) Test fit the new LCD ( it lines up with two small plastic nibs and two holes on the LCD tray
4) Remove the rear plastic from the new LCD, and stick it on the LCD tray ( you have to do this right the first step !)
5) When you are done use the old LCD as you template, and make small folds in the LCD cable connector ( you need it to be folded identically)
Step 11: Step 3 Replacing Front Glass
I didn't take many pictures because, well its a pretty simple thing procedure, that is very difficult to do correctly. It's like removing the aluminum foil from a Hershey's bar. It's easy to do, but in the process the aluminum foil gets a bit wrinkled
1) Heat up the Glass and Plastic frame ( I can't really say how long depending on what you use, but a good sign is if you start to smell a little bit of plastic, that's a good signt
2) Someohow, either using your fingers or a prying tool, remove the glass/touchscreen from the frame. This will probably crack the lcd, and actually that makes it a bit easier. I heard from a friend, that if you already have a cracked glass, removing it is a bit easier than trying to remove it as an entire piece. (First pic)
3) Clean off all the old residue, and if you bent your frame alittle, bend it back in to shape.
4) Apply the new adhesive strips ( pretty easy ) make sure that you when you buy the touchscreen/glass it comes with two new strips
5) Before you apply the touchscreen/glass put on some latex gloves ( from now until you are finish) and peel the inside screen protector away a bit, and tape down the cables (second pic)
6)Remove the adhesive from the two strips and place the new glass on your plastic frame (take your time )
Step 12: Step 5 Put Everything Back Together
Just the reverse, pretty easy. Before you put the screws on the LCD tray, make sure you didn't get any dust, if you did unsnap the lcd, used the compressed air to get it clean and put it back together. The only tricky connector is the #3 one, but its not too hard. Then you when you put the glass back into your iPhone, slide the top part first ( by the headset) and then the bottom part) and you are done !
I Love how clear the glass is, but I hate how easy it gets scratched. Right after you take off the front plastic film you can put on a screen protector without having to clean the glass