How to replace the front facing FaceTime camera in an iPhone 4S
The front facing FaceTime camera on the iPhone 4S is a pretty important part of how we communicate with the people we care about most. If a day ever comes where you find yourself out of warranty and the front facing camera stops working or produces bad quality video or images, we can help you DIY repair it yourself. With the right tools and just a little less than an hour of your time, we can get you back up and running in no time.
Follow along and we'll show you how.
Disclaimer: As with any repair, iMore can not be held responsible for any damage you may do to your device. It’s also worth considering that opening up your device to perform any repair or modification can and will void your Apple warranty. If you don’t feel comfortable opening your device, don’t. Use extreme care and caution when performing a repair on any device.
What you'll need to DIY replace an iPhone 4S front facing camera
We recommend using only quality and genuine parts from a reputable supplier like eTech Parts. They have quality parts, tools, and much more for all your repair needs. You will find links to the specific parts you'll need for this repair in the list below.
- iPhone 4S (any variant)
- Replacement front facing camera - Link to part
- #00 Phillips screwdriver - Link to part
- Security screwdriver - Link to part
- Spudger tool - Link to part
- SIM removal tool or paperclip
While the video walkthrough adds even more detail, it is meant to be used in correlation with the written steps below. It will show a complete breakdown of the device but smaller steps for each individual repair will be listed with high quality images in the actual guide below.
Power off your iPhone 4S
Before performing any repair you should always power off your device before opening it up.
Remove the back plate
- Using your security screwdriver, remove the 2 screws on either side of the dock connector port.
- Set them aside. They are both the exact same size and length so it does not matter if you mix them up. They are interchangeable.
- Gently slide up the back plate by applying a bit of pressure along the bottom with your thumbs and sliding upwards.
- Now lift off the back plate and set it aside.
Remove the battery and grounding clip
- Using your #00 Phillips screwdriver, remove the two screws holding the battery in place.
- These screws are different lengths so make sure you remember which one goes where. The one that is slightly larger is the bottom screw.
- There is a tiny grounding clip underneath the battery clip where the first screw is located. Use your spudger tool or finger to remove it before prying the clip up. Many times it can go flying if you don't remove it first and then you'll have difficulty locating it so it's best to remove it first.
- Now use your spudger tool and at the bottom of the battery clip, gently pry upwards so the clip pops up.
- Move to the edge of the iPhone where the volume buttons are located and use your spudger tool to carefully pry up the battery. It is stuck down with a good amount of adhesive so be careful when prying upwards that you don't bend the battery. This is why I do not use the plastic tab that is provided. It typically rips or bends the battery. If one part is resistant move your pry tool a little further down and gently start prying it up in different places taking care not to come too close to the volume button cables towards the top.
- Once you've gotten the battery pulled out of the iPhone 4S we can move on.
Remove the top logic board shields
- Using your #00 Phillips screwdriver, remove the four screws that hold the top silver shield in place and the one screw that holds the small black shield in place.
- Now use your spudger or pry tool to gently lift the silver shield out of the iPhone.
- Use your spudger or pry tool to lift the black shield out of the iPhone.
- Set both shields aside and make sure your screws are organized for reassembly later.
Unclip the top logic board cables & remove the rear-facing camera
Using your spudger or pry tool carefully disconnect all the cables at the top of the logic board. There are seven cables total. One of the cables lies underneath the bottom most cable so you'll need to disconnect the cable over it before folding it back and revealing the shorter cable underneath.
Once you unclip the seven cables, you can lift the rear-facing camera directly out of the iPhone. It was only connected by one cable.
Disconnect the dock connector
- Using your #00 Phillips screwdriver remove the shield that is covering the dock connector cable towards the middle left of the iPhone. Remember which screw came from where as they are different sizes. Gently lift the shield out of the iPhone and set it aside.
- Take your spudger tool and gently pry up the dock connector cable and peel it back as shown below. Perform this step with caution as there is adhesive on the underside of the cable. Take care not to rip the cable by pulling up to quickly.
- Leave the cable in this position and move on to the next section.
Pry up the cellular antenna
- Using your spudger toolcarefully pry up the round connection for the cellular antenna. It should come up easily so pry up gently.
- You'll notice that it is wrapped around a metal clip. Gently unwrap it so it's sticking upwards and leave it in this position.
Remove the SIM card and tray
Using a SIM removal tool or a bent paper clip, eject the SIM tray and set it, and the SIM card aside.
Remove the logic board
- Remove the three #00 Phillips screws at the top, middle, and bottom left of the logic board with your #00 Phillips screwdriver. The top screw has a piece of tape over it you'll need to peel back. After removing it you'll also notice a gold grounding clip underneath it. Make sure you don't lose it as you'll need it for reassembly.
- There are two more screws holding the logic board in place and you'll need to remove them with your flat head screwdriver. They are located at the top right and bottom of the logic board.
- Now you should be able to lift the logic board out of the iPhone. Use the area that the rear-facing camera was located and the bottom of the logic board to lift it straight out.
Remove the metal retainer & front facing camera
There is a metal retainer covering the front facing camera. To remove it use your pry tool to gently pull it off. Make sure you don't lose it as you'll need it for reassembly. Now that the metal retainer has been removed you can gently lift the front facing camera out of the iPhone 4S.
Replace the front facing camera & metal retainer
Now replace the front facing camera with the new replacement part. Once it is securely in place you can replace the metal retainer by snapping it back in place.
Reassemble your iPhone 4S
To reassemble your iPhone 4S, you can either follow all these directions in exact reverse order or view our reassembly video guide above which will walk you through how to reassemble it from screen to turning it back on and testing it. For an front facing camera replacement you'll need to watch the video from about 5:30 to the end.
Once you've finished putting your iPhone 4S completely back together you can go ahead and turn it back on. If all went well, you should see the Apple logo and your phone should boot up like normal. Now pop into your camera app and flip the camera around to test the new part. Make sure to test it in daytime and in low light conditions. Even though the front facing camera isn't great at capturing low light, it should at least get the job done decently.
Congrats! Now get to FaceTiming again!
Want to know how to perform another type of iPhone repair or modification? Send me suggestions and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you had issues performing this repair, our DIY and mod forums are a great place to start. If you still can't find an answer, you can contact me at the e-mail address above.