"iFixit's iPhone transparent rear panel mod let's you give your iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S an amazingly distinctive look in a world where tens of millions of them are otherwise all but indistinguishable."
I ordered iFixit's transparent rear panel mod kit + bonus iPhone liberation kit during their Black Friday sale last year because I absolutely adore Ally's weekly iPhone mod columns and I've been dying to try it out for myself. Though the glowing Apple logo mod is my holy grail, this clear back-panel looked great and seemed like an easier mod to start with.
Now I need to preface this review by saying I've heard conflicting reports about wether or not swapping out the back plate on your iPhone voids your warranty. Obviously you should swap back to the original rear panel if you ever need to take your iPhone back to Apple for service, but I'd caution anyone who's overly worried or concerned to think twice before doing any mods, especially if AppleCare still has you covered.
Onward. The special deal I got included both the see-through backing for the iPhone (iPhone 4 GMS/AT&T in my case, though they provide versions to fit the Verizon iPhone and iPhone 4S as well), and well as regular and Apple's own Pentalobular-style screw drivers. If iFixit doesn't have the special package deal when you order, get the Liberation kit anyway. It's well worth it, especially considering Pentalobe screws are pretty much impossible to remove without the proper tools.
Since Pentalobe screws aren't designed for repeated use, the first thing I did was replace them with the ones iFixit includes in the kit. Removing the screws with the proper screwdriver was simple and fairly easy. Once the screws are removed, the iPhone back plate just pops out of place. It is a little bit tricky to get the transparent rear replacement panel properly aligned, however, so you'll want to practice a few times.
I did have some trouble getting the replacement screws to fit all the way back in. I did make sure to order the proper back plate for the AT&T/GSM iPhone 4, but the screws still stuck out a little. I could have received some ornery parts, and the feedback to iFixit is pretty positive so it doesn't sound like a widespread problem, but it's something to keep in mind. Worst case you swap the original panel and screws back in and contact iFixit for a replacement.
Once the clear back plate is in place it looks spectacular. You can see the inner workings of your iPhone just like you could the inner workings of the original iMac. In other words -- awesome.
I didn't leave it on long -- I'm testing some other parts now as well -- so I can't comment on longterm durability yet, but with a process this simple, if you have any interest in modding at all, it's certainly worth a try.
iFixit transparent rear panel
iFixit's iPhone transparent rear panel mod let's you give your iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S an amazingly distinctive look in a world where tens of millions of them are otherwise all but indistinguishable. As with any modification, you need to feel comfortable tinkering with the hardware, but if you are it can be a blast to do and the results look amazingly good.