Weekly Mod: How to replace the dock assembly on an iPhone 3G & iPhone 3GS

If your iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS is having trouble charging, picking up a signal, or has a dead mic or speaker - replacing the dock assembly should remedy any of these problems. It can also solve issues with an unresponsive home button. A DIY dock assembly repair is an easy enough fix if you've got the right tools and about thirty minutes to spare.

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 replacing a dock assembly fixes

  • Microphone
  • Dead speaker
  • Charging port
  • Wifi and 3G antennas
  • Unresponsive home button (This problem can be caused by two issues - the dock connector or digitizer assembly. If replacing the dock connector does not correct the issue, try replacing your digitizer assembly.)

What you need for a DIY dock assembly repair

iMore 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.

Power off your iPhone

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

Remove the dock connector screws

Using your #00 Phillips screwdriver, remove the 2 screws located on each side of the dock connector.

Remove the digitizer & LCD assembly

This part can be a bit tricky so please do this with extreme care so you don't tear any cables during the process. I highly recommend using the suction cup method unless your screen is cracked above the home button for some reason and you can't get a proper seal with the suction cup.

Suction cup method (recommended):

The easiest way to remove the digitizer assembly is by using a suction cup.

  1. Position the suction cup on the screen directly above the home button.
  2. Using your other hand, hold down the frame while gently pulling up on the suction cup.
  3. The goal is to get the bottom of the digitizer loose. Do not pull directly up. There are 3 cables attached in the top right of your iPhone. You do not want to tear these. Just pull up until the bottom of the assembly pops out.
  4. After you have the bottom up you can remove the suction cup.

Spudger/razor blade method (only use this method as a secondary method):

ONLY use this method if your screen is cracked above the home button. If this is the case, you'll need to use a razor blade or spudger in order to remove it. And while you're at it, replace that broken screen!

  1. Starting in the bottom left hand corner, insert a plastic spudger and gently pry up. Once the first side is starting to pop up, do the same on the bottom right side.
  2. Run your pry tool along the bottom of the device in order to pop up the bottom of the assembly. Take special care around the home button area.

Remove the cables that attach the digitizer assembly to the logic board:

Once you have the bottom of your digitizer assembly popped up we can remove the cables attaching it to the logic board.

  1. Gently lift up your digitizer enough to have a clear view of the 3 cables in the top right of your iPhone.
  2. With your plastic spudger or pry tool, you'll need to pry up the first two cables that attach the digitizer and LCD. They should be labeled with orange stickers numbered 1 and 2. Simply pop them off the logic board gently.
  3. Underneath these cables you'll see one other labeled as cable 3. This one is a bit trickier as it is clipped down. You'll need to gently pop up the clasp holding it into the fastener. It is a tiny white clip. Simply pop it upwards and the number 3 cable should then slide right out.
  4. Remove the digitizer & LCD assembly and set it aside.

Remove your SIM card

Using your SIM tool or a paperclip, either works, remove your SIM card and tray from your device.

Unclip cables from the logic board

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  • Towards the top left of the logic board, use your pry tool to pop up the two cables labeled 5 and 6.
  • Towards the bottom of the logic board, 3G owners will only see one cable to the left labeled 4. 3GS users will see two cables (one on each side of the dock connector) labeled 4 and 7. 3G users will just pop up the number 4 cable while 3GS owners will need to pop up both the number 4 and 7 cables.
  • Remove your logic board

    1. Remove the 8 screws outlined in the video that hold the logic board in place. One of the screws is under a Do not remove sticker at the bottom right by the dock connector. Obviously you'll have to remove the sticker to get to it.
    2. Make sure you place the screws in an order you will remember. They are different sizes in some instances so you'll need to make sure you put them back in the correct order.
    3. Notice the screw holding the camera in place has a metal bracket underneath it. Just take care not to lose this as you'll need to put it back during reassembly.
    4. Gently pop your camera up with your spudger or pry tool.
    5. Insert your pry tool in the space between the dock connector and logic board and gently pry upward to loosen the logic board.
    6. Gently grab the bottom of the logic board and slide it out downwards to remove it.

    Remove the old dock connector

    3G owners

    1. Remove the two screws on either side of the bottom of the dock connector.
    2. To remove the dock connector gently pull it up and out.
    3. Take note of how the brackets for the screws go above the screw holds in the casing. You'll need to make sure this is how you line up the new dock connector.

    3GS owners

    1. Remove the two screws on either side of the bottom of the dock connector.
    2. Remove the screw underneath the number 4 cable holding the dock connector into the casing.
    3. To remove the dock connector gently pull it up and out.
    4. Take note of how the brackets for the screws go above the screw holds in the casing. You'll need to make sure this is how you line up the new dock connector.

    And... done!

    If you followed all the steps above correctly you should be able to power on your phone and be on your way! Test the dock connector out to make sure it's fully functional by checking wifi, placing a test call, and attempting to charge it.

    Have you done this repair yourself? 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 a comment in our brand new Mod and DIY Repair Forum!

    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!

    Allyson Kazmucha

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

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    There are 4 comments. Add yours.

    Dan says:

    Now if only someone would make a replacement micro usb connector so I don't have to bring a 30pin cable with me everywhere.
    I'd pay $50 for one...

    Allyson Kazmucha says:

    They do sell adapters if that'd work. : )

    Dan says:

    yeah apple makes one now to comply with EU requirement that all phones must have microusb charging. I thought of super-gluing one on, but it would be ugly and catch on my pants pocket. Plus I don't even like a case on my iPhone!
    jeeze... I should just make one. Along with a touchstone inductive charging replacement backplate for the 4/4s