We pried open an Apple iPhone X the other day, and if you haven’t reviewed other teardowns or read up on the X’s notorious fragility, it’s a process as delicate as assembling a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle by candlelight, if the pieces were made of burnt egg whites. That is to say, we might’ve cracked both the front screen and the back glass.
Let that be fair warning against attempting repairs on an iPhone X before familiarizing yourself with its design quirks ahead of time.
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus came and went, as most of us were more eager to get a load of Apple’s mysterious Samsung-ish iPhone X, washing into hungry users’ hands on a wave of rumors regarding its proneness to damage and high cost of repair. So far the rumors are true, and given that non-warranty repairs are astronomical for those who forgo the extended AppleCare+ warranty, repair techs need to be prepared to fix an iPhone X faster than they might other new phones.
Watch Our Apple iPhone X Teardown
An iPhone X Teardown Rundown
Here’s a brief rundown of our teardown. A special shoutout goes to our friend Holger from Holger Tech for running the show.
We started with the customary pentalobe screw removal, then used heat and prying to dislodge the OLED front screen. Beware, it’s very sensitive near the top of the phone. We actually cracked the screen near the speaker vent before separating it from the frame. Use extreme caution, lest a battery swap turn into a screen repair, too.
Next, we unscrewed the bracket protecting the dizzying array of flex cables attached to the logic board. Here we unplugged the battery and detached the OLED screen.
Living on the back of the OLED screen is the earpiece speaker and top loud speaker assembly, along with a mic and proximity sensor. A screwdriver and gentle prying freed that cable, and we returned to the frame.
At this point we decided to remove the lightning port, because hey, that’s easy. Hey, it wasn’t. We dove in knowing it was buried under a bracket, the bottom loud speaker, and taptic engine. Those popped out nicely. We then traced the lightning port flex cable underneath the battery and logic board and suddenly realized the iPhone X is way cooler than other phones, because it’s so complex, you know? So we had to gut nearly the whole phone to get the lightning port out.
On to the battery! It’s stuck down by four adhesive strips, which come up like a charm.
On to the logic board! Pop the SIM card tray, unscrew screws, tweeze out back camera bracket. Finally, pry the board out.
Back to the lightning port! With the battery and logic board out of the way, it pries up.
After that, the back cameras lifted right out, and the front camera/IR sensor pried up easily, too. We then unscrewed a bushel of screws from the sides of the frame, and tweezed out the service antenna —or “loud speaker antenna” – from the bottom of the frame.
Next up was another curveball. The spindly volume flex cable is soldered to the Qi wireless charging coil, instead of plugging into the logic board with an FPC connection. We applied heat and scraped the Qi chip out, volume flex cable in tow.
To close things out, we unscrewed and pried out the flex cable for power, back mic, and LED flash, as well as the wifi antenna. Done!
Actually, to close things out, we totally demolished the back glass. Upon review, the best way to remove it is to remove the back camera lens first, which is sealed in place on top of the back glass, then soldered from the inside. Break the solder points, punch out the lens with a combination of delicate prying and brute force, then focus on the back glass. It require tons of heat and patience, and you may end up deforming the metal midframe anyway. On a scale of “worth it” to “I’d rather provoke a lobster to pinch my tongue,” it ranks as “probably not worth it.”
Key Takeaways on Fixing the Apple iPhone X
- Careful removing the screen: Top flex cable assemblies make it harder to pry up the top of the screen. Be patient and don’t crack it when opening the phone.
- Oh hai, loud speaker: the loud speaker attached to the OLED screen is there for stereo sound. Say hello.
- Dogpile on the lightning port: If you’re replacing the lightning port, prepare to pluck out nearly every sizeable component in the phone.
- No home button: Bye!
- Front camera and infrared sensor assembly: Man, why couldn’t we keep the home button? If you want to retain the X’s facial recognition feature, hold on to the original part (just like with home buttons past).
- Logic board quandary: Why’s the logic board so small and compact? Because it’s folded in on itself, like some sort of ouroboros tesseract thing from another dimension. Even those with soldering skills may not be able to work with this thing.
- The Screw Store called…: Be ready to face more pentalobe, trilobe, and Philips head screws than you've ever seen before.
- Qi Chip + Volume Flex 4EVER: These two are soldered at the hip.
- Back glass: When you look into the X’s back glass, the back glass looks into you. We recommend staying on the lookout for full replacement back assemblies that render back glass repairs moot.
- Dual-cell battery: That’s cool. And also, no residue.
Tools Needed to Repair the Apple iPhone X
- Suction cup/iSclack tool
- Plastic pry tools
- Metal pry tools
- Pentalobe screwdriver
- Trilobe screwdriver
- #00 Philips-head screwdriver
- SIM card ejection tool