Weekly Mod: how to replace the back casing on an iPhone 4

How to replace an iPhone 4 back

Replacing the back casing of an iPhone 4 is by far the easiest hardware modification for do-it-yourself types. Even the most casual user shouldn't have a problem performing this one. If having not only a glass front, but a glass back makes you nervous, or you just want to switch it up to white or stainless steel and really stand out, this guide will walk you through how to replace the backing on your iPhone 4.

Hit the jump for a walkthrough, some pics, and a video guide!

DIY: How to replace the back casing on an iPhone 4

Anytime you make any hardware repairs, make sure to do them in a dry, clean place. You don't want any liquid or dirt getting inside your device. I typically perform repairs on a cool, clean surface and use a few white sheets of printer paper. The paper makes it easy to spot screws. As always, be careful. With this particular walkthrough, remember that if you ever need to take your phone back to Apple for repair or replacement, you'll need to replace the default back.

What You'll Need

  • A new back. The choice is yours but keep in mind they range in quality. I picked up my brushed metal back on cnn.cn for $13

  • #00 Phillips screwdriver - they are rather common and can be picked up at a local hardware store or online

Taking off the back casing

  • With a #00 Phillips screwdriver, carefully remove the 2 screws located on each side of the charging port

  • Set the screws aside

  • Hold your phone with both hands and firmly but gently slide the back casing up by applying even pressure and pushing up

  • The back casing should simply slide up, you should then be able to lift it up and set it aside

Putting on the replacement

  • Line up the casing by sliding it in place from the top (slide down, opposite of how you removed the original back)

  • Firmly (still gently) slide the casing into place, you should hear it click into place

  • Replace the 2 screws by the charging port. Be careful not to screw them in too tight, as you could strip them.

You're done! You can now enjoy having a different back on your iPhone 4. This is great for users who have been waiting for the white iPhone as long as you're okay with the front not being white. (The front panel is replaceable as well, but the process is much more extensive.)

If you've modded your iPhone 4 (or any iPhone for that matter), post your pics in our forums and let us know how it went!

Allyson Kazmucha

Editor for iMore, Potter pundit, and the ninja in your iOS

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There are 51 comments. Add yours.

BobbyMcWho says:

I put that same back on my iPhone, i love it

Matthew says:

Thanks! I had no idea it was so simple. That stainless steel back looks really nice!

Andrew Wray says:

I need to get that back, I wish they weren't on backorder right now. Sweet looking.

kayno says:

I put a flat silver colored back on mine.. the one in the pic is gun metal.. or grey and beveled.. Didnt want to add bulk to my phone.. I love it though.. it matches the rest of the iDevices and macs now.

Rob Terry says:

Thanks for the info. I was wondering how this worked...looks pretty easy to me.
BTW, looks like you can order a new back here:
http://cnn.cn/shop/advancedsearchresult.php?keywords=metal+iphone+4&image.x=0&image.y=0

mojonation1487 says:

Mine is taking forever to get here. Ordered it a month ago!

webvex says:

I thought Apple was replacing the Phillips screws with Torx screws now.

wtkphoto says:

Does the apple bumper still work with this?

Richard says:

When I put that back on my phone my bars disappeared and my reception was horrible. It sucks because I love the look.

GoHard says:

Much simpler than the 3GS, and the 3G

Kiko says:

I'd get it if my parents would let me.It seems so worth it. You shuold probably go to your Cingular/AT T dealer and see if they have a sample or something. That's what I would do if I was even considering buying it

Dan says:

impossible richard.
the steelband that goes around the device is the antenna

webvex says:

Oh, and the new "Torx" screws are five-point, not six. You won't find them at your local store or anywhere else yet. Apparently, the new units are coming with them, and if you take an older phone in for service that's what you get back.

Trevor says:

@webvex kinda sucks but you could get some putty of some sort and stick it in a screw. Let it dry and you have a makeshift screwdriver.

chuck732 says:

Tipb is a little behind I see. Maybe copying someone else video. On the 19th on youtube another person from another site made a video using the same back and explain how to change it. Take a look.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-96jZDHKE&feature=playerembedded Look how close they look alike.

chuck732 says:

Let my correct this. Not exact the same. Sorry. Just the same cover from cnn and how to change it.

Yawali says:

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Marco says:

Can I put on the mophie air pack case, If I use the metal back case.

Brian Tufo says:

I had that back on and my signal in poor reception areas (work) went from bad to worse. So I'm back to the stock glass.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Guys, a new casing on an iPhone 4 should have nothing to do with bad reception. The antennae is in the band. A back will not affect reception.

Jason says:

Allyson, Dan
I had the problem of signal reception when I put this back on my iPhone 4. I ordered the silver metal back without the bevel. While my signal didn't disappear completely it did drop one or two bars and when in a fairly low service area such as where I work where I only get 1 or 2 bars in the building, i could only get 1 bar and would drop into edge pretty easily and even searching and no service a few times whereas I have never not had service with the glass back or even my 3GS when I had it

webvex says:

Antennae? Do you have bugs in your phone? Perhaps you meant "the antenna is" or "the antennas are". At any rate, without trying this myself, I would think that a large sheet of metal in close proximity to the antennas could affect the signal. For one thing, you could have a shorting issue like antennagate, where your hand conducts between the antenna and the metal back. Even though the back isn't an antenna it could affect the impedance and tuning.

Rolf says:

If the back is a conductive metal, couldn't it affect signal strength if it is in contact with the antenna?

Bob Marley14 says:

Allyson. Would this process be applied when replacing a shattered back with a new one? If so, would save $$.
A website called Missionrepair.com did a great job in repairing my shattered backing for around $100 with shipping.
Ordering a new glass back and repairing it yourself should save you money.

Peach says:

Does replacing the back replace the lens cover as well? Mine is really scratched. Not sure if it affects images, but I can't believe how scratched it is.

cosby says:

Just as the glass back is not solid glass, the "metal" back is not solid metal. it's plastic on the inside just like the glass back. So there should be no signal interferance. In fact I'd go so far as to say the metal back is a plastic finish and not actual metal. I love my metal back and its very durable, no signal loss. Ordered from cnn.cn

Bob Marley14 says:

BTW. Just checked Missionrepair.com and they will replace a shattered back plate on iPhone 4 for less than $50.00 with shipping. Less than half of what I paid a few months ago.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Guys as one user pointed out, the backs are still plastic, not metal. Still not buying the loss of signal stuff. Sorry. I had no loss whatsoever with this back and I had it on for a full month. Maybe longer.

Jean says:

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Daniel says:

Now go into camera
The case shows a black shadow around the top and bottom edges if the camera

jboog says:

Been wearing that back for a little while but after about a month it broke where the screws hold it on ao had to go back to glass and being super careful not to shatter it :/

S142s says:

On my old iPhone 3G I put a red back and then a few months later a blue back on and I'd say it was worth the hassle for any DIY person

S142s says:

And I'm only 15 so if I can do it. Anyone can

Jason says:

Oh yea forgot that if you don't experiance the problem the surely it doesnt exist lol.
Go stick a key next to the antenna on these phones and watch the signal drop. Same theory. It's in the vicinity of it and it messes with the reception. Maybe not for all of us but for some of us it does.

Vivek says:

Bonjour j\'ai telecharger le fwrmiare 3.1.2 au moin 10 fois et c\'est toujours le meme fichier mais quand je veux downgrader mon iphone c\'est a dire passer de la 3.1.3 a la 3.1.2 je fait shift + restaure9 sur itune je veux ouvrir le dossier mais sa me dit aucun element je peut pas ouvrir le fwrmiare et je comprend pas pourquoi pourtant c\'est un format ipsw mais ce que je ne comprend pas aussi c\'est les gens qui on laisse9 une vide9o l\'on sur leur bureau mais c\'est une icone avec une note de musique tous sa une belle icone alors que moi sur mon bureau c\'est un dossier jaune normal quoi il doit me manquer un logiciel ou autre surement pouvez vous m\'aider?

meme says:

would this void warranty??

Jason says:

If they knew about it yes. If you have to swap it just put the old back on.

StevO Jobso says:

I ordered the same case 3 weeks ago, but I think I may have gotten a defective one. Somehow the screws are not being held by the case. The original iPhone 4 Case has metal inside where the screw goes but the replacement case is al plastic and just has the holes. So Therefore If I slightly push the case it will slide off easily. Anyone else had similar problems

andyallen1 says:

How's about the front! Mine is cracked. Another vid pls...quoted about $130-150 to replace!!!

Brian Tufo says:

@StevO Jobso I also found that I had that issue when I removed it from my phone.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

@Jason - I never said that. I've seen several people replace backs on phones. I think people exaggerate issues that aren't there. Like anntenagate, that was ridiculous as well. All phones lose reception if you hold them where the antenna is covered. Things are frequently blown out of proportion.
@StevO Jobso
i noticed this on one of my backs. the left screw would continuously rotate no matter how tight i tried to screw it in, it never took. i think this problem has to do with the plastic, as you stated. the hole is a tiny bit too big and the screw just turns and turns and never catches. if you have this issue, send it back and request a new one. the holes can be hard to cut exactly to size. the one i got from cnn.cn was perfect
@Daniel - if you would have watched the video, you may of noticed i already mentioned this. when i took pics with flash, i got a bit of black or white in the right hand corners of the pics, due to the flash reflecting off the casing back to itself. a little annoying but i use flash about 1 time a month, if that, so it never bothered me.

Html5 says:

Why does tipb not support html5? Huge, huge fail! Over 54% of ALL websites have support, but the one site that makes all their money talking about apple FAILS to support it?!? Huge, huge, huge, EPIC FAIL!!!

Melih says:

no the argument was whehetr your stupid ass comment was serious, because it was so dam stupid. hes black. stole an item he couldnt afford and didnt wanna work for. end of story. your 10 years old. get off youtube

ThaNatrix says:

I put the brushed aluminum back from cnn on my iphone as well. I love the look of it but I was disappointed that the apple logo and fcc info was not protected at all. I didn't want it to get scratched off in pocket sliding so I sprayed it with polyurethane before I installed it. It worked awesome...its like I have a homemade invisible shield on my phone (i covered the camera lens with a custom cut piece of screen protector and removed it when finished). I do have the stripped screw hole issue, but I use the apple bumper on my phone so I don't have to worry about the back coming off or the screws falling out. I'm sure you could fill a stripped hole with gorilla glue, let it dry, then rethread with the screws as well if that issue bothers you. Home Depot plus iPhone parts...who would have thought they would benefit each other!

smlm says:

Thanks! Great video. I'm not typically very brave in taking apart my stuff, but I could do this! Thanks for explaining how. Would love a video on exchanging front also. I know that one is a lot more complicated. Anyway, good job!

PINKLADY185 says:

Thanks for explaining how to do this. Normally I wouldn't attempt to try something like this, for fear of shattering the glass, but you made it look super simple, that I think I could handle this. Great video, and very much appreciated. =)

jason says:

@allyson
little late i know, dont know if you will see it but..
"Like anntenagate, that was ridiculous as well. All phones lose reception if you hold them where the antenna is covered."
no one is arguing that, certainly not me at least. but the issue is, with the iphone 4, you can easily cover the antenna with for what most people would consider a normal holding position. metal in the area will also effect the antenna on this phone, look up youtube videos where people will lay it on a table, take a key, and put it in the vicinity, not touching, just near the antenna and they loose service. this metal back could easily do the same and it does for a few of us. me being one of them. although it doesnt effect me that much, it still does.

geekette says:

It took over a month to arrive, then took me 10 minutes to swap the back. Sadly, it also took about 10 minutes for the apple logo to scratch (didn't think about coating with polyurethane).
I'm still fairly happy with it - I know front from back when I pick it up, which is what I was going for.

Dionne Pittsley says:

To:LovI have the newest version of iPod touch and your suppose to hold it down 4 seconds NOT tap it 2 times

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