Smartphones are such a commodity these days that people take for granted the amount of work it takes to make one. Sure, that process has been pretty much automated, but that doesn’t take away the complexity of a smartphone. And what better way to learn about that complexity by building your smartphone. Better yet, your own iPhone! That is exactly what adventurer extraordinaire Scotty Allen of Strange Parts did when he was in China. What he ended up building was a perfectly working refurbished iPhone 6s at half the price of a band new one.
OK, Allen didn’t exactly go a complete DIY route of soldering the chips and boards himself. His path was more of an assembler that bought parts from shops in the market that sold refurbished or repaired parts. Many of these were taken from recycled iPhones. But his choice not to DIY so much wasn’t because he didn’t want to but because, in some cases, it was near impossible.
The logic board, the equivalent of motherboards on PCs, is the most problematic. The processor and Touch ID sensor has to come in a tandem. For security purposes, you cannot swap out a Touch ID sensor and expect it to work. Add that to the fact that soldering chips on a bare board is more than just taxing, there was actually very little choice other than to buy a refurbished logic board. If you can find one in supply, that is.
The screen was actually a bit more involved and a little more interesting. Although it was definitely possible to get the bare components, like the touch controller, the LCD, backlight, etc. and assemble them yourself. But the intricate processes involved, like making sure there are no air bubbles, is something some people are better skilled at. Fortunately, there are indeed repair shops in Shenzen that are able to take those individual components and glue them up together.
After those two, the battery and the shell are the easiest. Batteries are cheap and shells are everywhere. And if you’re not aiming for authenticity, you can even choose customized ones. All in all, Allen said it cost him $300 to make this refurbished iPhone 6s. He did actually spend $1,000 in total, but most of that went into the failed attempts soldering.
So you will hardly be making your own iPhones now, unless you happen to be living in Shenzen, China. But this rather odd adventure shows how deceptively simple smartphones can be. Or how insane the smartphone parts market in China can be.
SOURCE: Strange Parts