Weekly Mod: how to replace a shattered or unresponsive iPhone 3G/3GS digitizer assembly

Shattered the glass on your iPhone 3G or 3GS, or have a touchscreen that has stopped responding, and wondering how easy a screen replacement is to DIY? Well, you're in luck -- a screen replacement is a relatively easy repair to perform. You'll just need a few tools and a new digitizer assembly to make your broken iPhone 3G or 3GS good as new! This repair can also fix an unresponsive home button as well.

Disclaimer: As with any repair, 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. Never use any type of conductive tool to pry or lift cables. Always use a plastic pry tool or spudger. And of course, make sure your device is powered off before beginning any repair work.

What you'll need

iMore recommends using only quality and genuine parts from a reputable supplier like eTech Parts. They have the proper parts and tools for all your repair needs.

Note: While the steps for this repair are the same for both phone models, the part is different so make sure you order the correct digitizer assembly for your device.

  • iPhone 3GS digitizer assembly- Buy now
  • iPhone 3G digitizer assembly - Buy now
  • Suction cup - Buy now
  • Standard #000 Phillips screwdriver - Buy now
  • Spudger tool - Buy now
  • Razor blade - Buy Now
  • iSesamo Opening tool (not necessary but awesome for prying up cables and getting under adhesive) - Buy Now

Power off your phone

First things first, power off your device. Hold down the power button and slide to power off. Once the device is completely off, move on to the next step.

Remove the dock connector screws

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

Remove the old digitizer 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.

Suction cup method (recommended):

The easiest way to remove the old digitizer is by using a suction cup to pull up the old screen.

  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):

If your screen is cracked above the home button, a suction cup may not create a seal strong enough for you to pull the digitizer up. If this is the case, you'll need to use a razor blade or spudger in order to remove it.

  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 assembly and set it aside for LCD removal.

Remove the LCD from the old assembly and place it in the new assembly

  1. There are 6 screws holding the LCD in place. They are all the same size. Three on the left side of the frame, 2 on the right side of the frame, and 1 on the top right holding down the induction flex. Remove all 6 screws with your #00 Phillips screwdriver and set them aside.
  2. Next use your pry tool to slowly work the LCD out of the old assembly on the left and right sides. It should come out fairly easily. Just take special care not to scratch it while removing it. The LCD and back plate will remove in one piece as they are glued together.
  3. Re-position the LCD and frame in the new assembly and replace all 6 screws in the new assembly. Make sure to remove any protection film on the inside of the new assembly before putting in the LCD. This is also a good time to check for dust between the LCD and new digitizer. I use air duster when necessary to make sure none gets stuck on the inside of the device.

Reassemble the digitizer

  1. Begin with the number 3 cable that clips down. Getting it seated can be a bit tricky. Use a plastic spudger to guide it in the opening if needed. Then push back down the clip that holds it in place.
  2. Next push down the number 1 and 2 cables onto the logic board.
  3. To snap the new digitizer assembly back in place, start at the top and make sure it is lined up. Once the top is pushed down and flush, snap the bottom into place on each side of the home button.
  4. Replace the two dock connector screws.

And... done!

That's it! You now have a brand new digitizer on your iPhone 3G or 3GS! Turn your iPhone back on and test the digitizer. If the touchscreen is unresponsive, remove the digitizer again and verify that the number 2 cable is pushed down all the way onto the logic board and seated correctly. Also test your proximity sensor while making a call and make sure it is functioning properly.

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@tipb.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

Help and how to editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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There are 10 comments. Add yours.

DiamondDNice says:

Well done Allyson. Well done. i don't have this device but i watched the whole vid. I've had to do similar repairs on laptop screens and saved myself hundreds of dollars. And i got a new 4s so who knows if i'll have to do something similar to that. This sort of diy info is great for people on a budget with a little ambition. i was unemployed and needed my laptop to job hunt but couldn't afford $400 they wanted to charge to fix the screen. At tutorial just like yours help me and saved me $300. i only paid for the glass. So kudos to you. I'm sure someone may find these useful.

axmuzaffar says:

Thank you so much for this amazing/detailed video tutorial. Can you also show how to change WiFi and Bluetooth radio? Thanks in advance

axmuzaffar says:

Is it possible to replace the wifi hardware?

depannage informatique Paris says:

Great job giving paper I am writing my topic by my tongue Et donc nous posterons que l'assistance informatique et le depannage informatique coorespond a un grand progres effectif tous geeks de PC pationnes de micro auront l'opportunite d'obtenir des solutions aux tracas techniques concernant windows SEVEN, aux programmesl et a la freebox commpe pour l'internet et les imprimantes reseaux, la camera comme pour le stockage usb et la pluspart du materiel informatique

surgery in france says:

You write a nice review. In our domain, medical care we need some good subject as yours.

dextrish says:

My friend just replaced her screen and I was wondering if you could tell me how to fix this problem she's having... everytime she types something, it goes to the letter to the far right (i.e. 'A' turns into 'L')

Nerdfly Fly says:

"First things first, power off your device. Hold down the power button and slide to power off. " - very useful when the SCREEN is broken!

Luke Robinson1 says:

ahah yeah that's what i thought but to turn it off you have to hold the lock button and the home button until the screen goes black..

Luke Robinson1 says:

I have fixed my Wii before and it was so complicated and this is not as complicated but I think this will really work I'm going to try it with my dad. thanks :)