This page summarises the repair of Apple iPhones, iPads and iPods.
Apple iPhones, iPads and iPods are frequently seen at a Restart Party, often with broken screens, dead batteries or water damage. None are easy to repair but some are harder than others. This page aims to help you quickly assess whether a given device is likely to be within your capability, whether you are a beginner with such devices, or have some level of experience.
In the case of water damage, repairability depends on the degree and duration of the ingress of water. Look for signs of corrosion caused by electrolytic action. If only slight, it may be possible to clean off with isopropyl alcohol, however, it may have caused the battery to completely discharge, so requiring replacement, or it may have caused damaging currents to flow, ruining the logic board. It may be possible to fit replacement dock connector and headphone jack if these have been damaged.
Repair guides are available at www.ifixit.com/Guide for nearly all models. These have been trawled for the repairability indications.
Restarting unresponsive devices
If an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch is frozen or 'went dead' and is generally unresponsive, this is likely to be software issue which can often be fixed just by restarting the device. To force restart the device press and hold both the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons for at least ten seconds, until you see the Apple logo. This is detailed on Apple's support website on the page Restart your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
Some devices, such as iPhone 4, can be started with a completely dead battery or without one at all if connected to a charger, but obviously they will instantly go off if the charger is removed. Other devices such as iPhone 5 require a working battery to boot up at all. Even so, you may be able to bring it back to life, even if only temporarily, by leaving it on charge for an extended period.
Before ordering spare parts, be sure to establish the precise model they are for. Different models even of the same generation of device are constructed differently and require different parts. Apple devices have a model number consisting of "A" followed by 4 digits, usually marked on the back in small or very small writing.
There are Apple support pages which make it easy to identify the model. Use your favourite search engine to search for identify iThingy model (replacing iThingy with iPhone, iPod, iPad or iWatch) and choose the Apple support page which comes up. This will enable you to identify the device against the model number.
Good quality spares are available from www.ifixit.com/Store or their EU store at eustore.ifixit.com. Much cheaper alternatives can be found on eBay but the quality is very variable. With batteries, in particular, you might find the replacement is no better than the one you are replacing, and could even be dangerous.
Note that on the iPhone 5S and 6 having a TouchID button, this is cryptographically paired with the phone and must be transferred to the new screen in the case of a screen repair.
Even so, there are reports that an iPhone 6 may lock up with the dreaded Error 53 after repairs not carried out by Apple. This may happen only after a subsequent software upgrade.
iDevice Repairability Tables
Maybe you've fixed an iPad Original and want to know how well that experience prepares you for a iPad Air, or maybe you've never done an Apple device and want to know which is one of the easier ones to start with. The following tables are designed to help you with questions such as these. All (or nearly all) the information is distilled from the Repair Guides at www.ifixit.com/Guide.
|3G/3GS||7/10||Suction cup||Opens from the front.|
|4/4S||6/10||Suction cup, pentalobe screwdriver||2 screws release the back. Battery replacement is fairly easy. Screen, digitiser and backlight come as a unit. Replacement is somewhat time consuming.|
|5/5C||7/10||Suction cup, pentalobe screwdriver||Opens from the front. Screen is separate from front glass but glass-only replacement requires UV-cured glue for professional result.|
|5S||7/70||Suction cup, pentalobe screwdriver||As 5/5C except that it has a TouchID home button which is paired with the motherboard, making it impracticable to replace.|
|SE||7/70||Suction cup, pentalobe screwdriver||Almost identical to 5S, in fact the screen assembly is interchangeable with 5S.|
|6/6Plus||7/10||Suction cup, pentalobe screwdriver||Very similar to 5/5C/5S/SE.|
|6S/6SPlus||7/10||Suction cup, pentalobe screwdriver||Very similar to 6/6Plus except for additional adhesive making it slightly harder to open the front.|
All iPads except the Original are challenging to open, however if the front glass is already broken you needn't worry about breaking it further. Nevertheless, there are parts underneath that are easily broken unless you follow instructions carefully.
|iPad Original||6/10||Spudgers||Opening it is relatively easy - release the clips around the edge of the screen. Front glass is separate from LCD so can be replaced on its own.|
|iPad 2, 3, 4||2/10||Heat gun or heated pad||Front glass is retained with adhesive. Removal is challenging, and parts underneath can easily be damaged in the process.|
|iPad Air, Air 2||2/10||Heat gun or heated pad, suction cup, plenty of plastic opening tools||Same comments apply as above.|
|iPad Mini, Mini 2, 3, 4||2/10||Heat gun or heated pad, suction cup, plenty of plastic opening tools||Same comments apply as above.|
The iPod Nano and Shuffle have soldered-in batteries, requiring a fine-tipped soldering iron. Some have battery wires which require care in soldering, but others have a battery ribbon which is considerably harder to unsolder and to solder a replacement without shorting the terminals or stripping the track from the board.
|Original||Difficulty: Moderate||Opening tools||The front panel is attached to the case with clips which can be tricky to release.|
|Classic||Difficulty: Very difficult||Metal spudgers, thin putty knife||Releasing the clips that retain the front panel without damaging the case or other components is especially challenging.|
|Mini||Difficulty: Moderate||Hair dryer or hot air gun may be helpful||Internal components slide out once the end caps are removed.|
|Nano 1G||Difficulty: Very difficult||Opening is difficult on account of 11 clips that have to be freed.|
|Nano 2G||Difficulty: Very difficult||Heat gun may be helpful||Disassembly similar to Mini.|
|Nano 3G||Difficulty: Very difficult||Damage to the rear case is almost inevitable as 8 clips are released. Replacement case is recommended.|
|Nano 4G||Difficulty: Very difficult||Disassembly similar to Mini. Unsoldering battery ribbon and installing new one requires extreme care.|
|Nano 5G||Difficulty: Very difficult||Heat gun||Disassembly similar to Mini. Almost impossible to avoid cosmetic damage to the case on removing camera/mic cover. Battery comments as 4G.|
|Nano 6G||Difficulty: Moderate||Heat gun||Front panel is glued on.|
|Nano 7G||Difficulty: Moderate. Battery: Difficult||Heat gun||Heat gun needed to remove Bluetooth aerial cover, then release clips to remove front panel. Battery comments as 4G/5G|
|Shuffle 1G||Difficulty: Very difficult||Craft knife||Opening can be difficult. Unsoldering battery ribbon and installing new one requires extreme care.|
|Shuffle 2G||Difficulty: Very difficult||Internal components slide out after removing end covers.|
|Shuffle 3G||Difficulty: Very difficult||Plastic prying tools are used to separate the front and rear covers. Unsoldering battery ribbon and installing new one requires extreme care.|
|Shuffle 4G||Difficulty: Very difficult||Accessing the internals is very difficult as the rear panel is retained both with glue and retaining clips. Cosmetic and/or structural damage is highly likely.|
The iPod Touch is essentially an iPhone without the GSM and GPS capabilities but is nevertheless capable of email, web browsing and the majority of apps if connected to a WiFi home router or hotspot, or tethered to a mobile phone.
All models are quite challenging to repair, both because they are harder to open and because the battery is soldered in. Great care, patience and some skill are required to unsolder an old battery and solder in a new one as it is very easy to cause the tracks to lift from the circuit board or to short out the battery, ruining the logic board and/or the battery.
|1G||Screen: Difficult Battery: Very Difficult||The case back comes off leaving the screen, battery and all other components. Opening is tricky – there are 7 clips on each side. Battery is soldered in with wires. Complete disassembly is required in order to replace the screen.|
Battery: Very Difficult
|Case opens from the front. Releasing clips is tricky. Battery ribbon is soldered to the logic board. Great care is required to unsolder it and solder in a replacement.|
Battery: Very Difficult
|Opens from the front, which is retained by 11 clips. Opening is tricky. Battery ribbon is soldered to the logic board as in 2G - same warning applies.|
Screen: Very Difficult Battery: Very Difficult
|Heat gun||Opens from the front with a heat gun. Complete disassembly is required to replace the battery. Battery ribbon is soldered to the logic board as in 2G - same warning applies.|
Screen: Difficult Battery: Very Difficult
|Heat gun, suction cup||There are several models of 5G which differ slightly.
Opens from the front with a heat gun. Complete disassembly is required to replace the battery. Battery ribbon is soldered to the logic board as in 2G - same warning applies.
Screen: Difficult Battery: Very Difficult
|Heat gun, suction cup||Opens from the front with a heat gun. Complete disassembly is required to replace the battery. Battery ribbon is soldered to the logic board as in 2G - same warning applies.|