Shenzen in China has something of a reputation for being a hub for spare parts and accessories. It’s home to the manufacturing facilities of the electronic world, after all. The creator of the YouTube channel Strange Parts decided to tap into Shenzen’s market and find out if he could build a fully functioning Apple iPhone from parts bought off the street.
As it turns out, he could.
The choice of building an iPhone 6s rather than an iPhone 7 was an easy one. Spare parts for the newer iPhone were just too hard to come by. It made more sense to attempt to build an older model.
Scotty Allen, the creator of said channel, dropped by Shenzen to build his phone and recorded the whole experience on video.
Allen’s original plan was to literally build the iPhone from scratch. This included assembling the LCD and digitiser unit, soldering the motherboard, and more. As it turns out, this wasn’t so easy. Some of the parts were hard to come by and a lot of the equipment was too expensive to purchase for this project.
Regardless, Allen did his best and in the end, managed to build himself a fully functional iPhone 6s 16 GB model in Rose Gold. Rose Gold wasn’t his first choice of colour, but he couldn’t get a black TouchID module and an appropriate back.
For the screen, Allen purchased a broken screen and had its LCD replaced. A far cry from building one himself, but it was the only option he had.
The motherboard (or logic board) was even more complicated to get. The problem, Allen found, was that Apple cryptographically ties the logic board to the Touch ID sensor. This is to prevent tampering with the TouchID sensor, but this also means that you can’t pair a random sensor with a random board. They must both be part of the same set and cryptographically paired by Apple.
While it’s possible to get a separate Touch ID and logic board unit and make a functional iPhone, Touch ID won’t work and the home button will just be a button and not a sensor. Allen didn’t want this.
Owing to these limitations, Allen had to buy the whole board and attached sensor. It took him a while to get this unit.
The rest of the components were easy to find. The battery, he said, was dirt cheap, costing him around $5 (around Rs 322) and appeared to be genuine.
And that’s about it. With these essential components and a little bit of help from the locals, Allen built himself a fully functional iPhone 6s.
The question that’s still nagging at the back of your mind is, of course, the price. What’s the point of building it yourself if it’s too expensive, right?
Well, the finished product did not cost more than $300 (around Rs 19,000), says Allen. Allen, however, spent a lot more than that, something closer to $1,000 (around Rs 65,000) which is more than the price of a new phone. He spent that money on parts and equipment he didn’t need, but coupled with the amount of time and trouble it took to get everything together, it may not have been worth it.
For the sake of proving a point, we’d say it was more than worth it.
Publish date: April 14, 2017 5:34 pm| Modified date: April 14, 2017 5:34 pm