How to remove the cellular antenna in a CDMA Verizon Sprint iPhone 4

How to fix cellular antenna reception problems on a Verizon or Sprint iPhone 4

If you can't seem to obtain a signal on your Verizon or Sprint iPhone 4, it may mean that you have a faulty cellular antenna. DIY replacing it is a relatively straight-forward repair that isn't too difficult. If you're out of warranty, it's also a much cheaper option than purchasing a new iPhone or paying for a replacement.

Disclaimer: As with any repair, neither iMore nor PXLFIX can 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 need for a DIY CDMA (Verizon or Sprint) iPhone 4 cellular replacement

PXLFIX recommends 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. We've linked to the part you need below but feel free to order parts from another source as well. Just verify they have high quality parts and not knock-offs.

  • CDMA iPhone 4 (please note there ARE internal differences between the GSM and CDMA models - this guide strictly deals with the CDMA model - in the US, that means Verizon or Sprint)
  • Replacement cellular antenna - CDMA cellular antenna
  • #00 Phillips screwdriver
  • Pry tool or spudger
  • Security screwdriver (to remove the 2 screws in your dock connector, all CDMA models will come with security screws)

Power off your iPhone 4

iPhone slide to power off

Before performing any repair, always power off your device before removing any screws or parts.

Remove the back

    Remove the dock connector screws on your CDMA iPhone 4
  1. First remove the bottom 2 dock connector screws in your iPhone 4. Use your five point security screwdriver for this as all versions of the CDMA iPhone 4 have security screws in the dock connector.
  2. Remove the back of your CDMA iPhone 4
  3. To remove the back simply slide the back upwards and lift it off gently.
  4. Set the back and 2 dock connector screws aside.

Organize your screws

It's very important to make sure you remember where you are pulling screws from, so place them in an arrangement that you'll understand and remember. I normally lay them out the same way every time I disassemble a device so I remember where they came from and how they go back in. They're all different sizes so trying to figure out where they go if you get them mixed up probably won't be fun.

Remove the battery

    Remove battery screw iPhone 4 CDMA
  1. To remove the battery you’ll need to remove the #00 screw holding the battery clip in place. Remove this screw located to the bottom left of the battery.
  2. Remove battery clip iPhone 4 CDMA
  3. The metal clip on the battery is what clips the battery to the logic board. You’ll need to pop this clip up with your plastic pry tool. Simply stick the end of your pry tool underneath the clip and gently pull upwards until it unfastens from the logic board.
  4. Remove battery iPhone 4 CDMA
  5. To remove the battery, I do not recommend using the plastic pull tab. There is quite a bit of adhesive underneath the battery and the tab will normally just rip off or you can bend the battery. Instead, run your pry tool along the right side of the battery and break the adhesive that way. Once the battery is free from the adhesive, you can pull the battery out of the phone. There are no other connectors holding it in.
  6. Fold over battery tab on iPhone 4
  7. I typically fold the plastic tab over while working on the iPhone 4 to keep it out of the way while I'm disassembling parts. It's not necessary but convenient.

Remove the grounding clip

To the left of where you disconnected the battery you'll see another screw holding in a grounding clip over the end of the cellular antenna. We'll need to remove it.

    Remove grounding clip screw on CDMA iPhone 4
  1. Unscrew the one screw holding the grounding clip in place with your #00 Phillips screwdriver.
  2. CDMA iPhone 4 grounding clip for antenna
  3. Gently lift the grounding clip out of the device. It's very tiny as you can see above. Take care not to misplace it or lose it.

Remove the dock connector shield and disconnect the cable

    Remove dock connector shield iPhone 4 CDMA
  1. There is a shield held on with two screws covering the dock connector cable. Remove the two screws holding it in place and set the shield and screws aside, remembering where they came from. (They are labeled as screw 1 & 2 in the photo above.)
  2. Remove dock connector cable iPhone 4 CDMA
  3. Next, use your pry tool to pry up the actual dock connector cable. Be careful as there is adhesive holding the cable in place as well. Peel back the adhesive gently to free the cable.

Unclip the antenna from the logic board

Underneath where you removed the grounding clip, you'll see a tiny circular cable. This is your antenna cable. You'll need to unclip it from the logic board.

  1. Take the edge of your pry tool or spudger and gently pry up the circular head to detach it from the logic board.
  2. Unclip antenna cable iPhone 4 CDMA
  3. You'll notice the cable is wound around some metal brackets. Just gently guide it out of the brackets with your pry tool and finger. It's attached to the speaker assembly. Once you've finished unwinding it from the brackets, you can leave it where it is for now.

Remove the speaker assembly

The cellular antenna is held down to the speaker assembly with 2 screws and some adhesive. We'll need to remove the speaker assembly to remove the antenna from the iPhone.

    Remove the 2 screws holding down iPhone 4 speaker assembly
  1. To remove the speaker assembly you have two #00 screws to remove. They sit to the right and the left of the speaker assembly. The left screw will have a tiny triangular shaped plastic spacer under the screw. Set it aside with the screw as well for re-assembly. If you lose this, your speaker assembly will not sit correctly.
  2. Carefully remove iPhone 4 CDMA speaker assembly from the device
  3. Gently lift the speaker assembly out of your device and set it aside.

Remove the old cellular antenna and install the new one

Remove the 2 screws holding the cellular antenna down and peel it off the speaker assembly. You can see by comparing the new cellular antenna and the one on the speaker assembly how the adhesive peels off and how it is held in.

Reassemble your iPhone 4

To re-assemble your CDMA iPhone 4, you can either follow these directions in reverse order or watch the video above, which includes reassembly instructions.

And... done!

Reboot your iPhone 4 and hopefully you should now have signal bars. Now it's time to let us know how it went! Want to know how to perform another type of iPhone repair or modification? Send me suggestions to ally.kazmucha@imore.com or leave them in our Mod & DIY forums via the link below.

For questions or to inquire about mail-in repairs through PXLFIX, please follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook or e-mail us directly! Of course, you can like us and follow us just because you think we're cool too!

Additional Resources:

Allyson Kazmucha

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

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There are 8 comments. Add yours.

JohnPA2006 says:

And now congrats, you just voided your warranty.

mjs416 says:

If the warranty was there in the first place - why would you do a DYI repair instead of visiting an apple store? Silly comment.

Atmatt says:

Why is your comment even necessary. Lol like wow out of nowhere you poop out negativity. Lol Frick man. Lol and mmmm did u even read the disclaimer? The answer to that is NO....

Glenn#IM says:

These DIY are excellent, and well done. Thanks.

Erny says:

If u are not the original owner then of course u need to diy. But if u bought item new go ahead and take it to apple and apple will give u a new phone. They dont mess that deeply into iphones. Max they do is simple stuff. Battery changes. Trust me im a genius bar employee.

west3man says:

I got excited until I saw that it was for the Sprint iPhone 4, not the Sprint iPhone 4S.

Pick and Pull Junkyard says:

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