How cracked iPhone back glass is professionally restored

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  • Abdullah Kabani is the owner of Telè, a phone-repair company in Oklahoma.
  • He shows us how he restores the cracked back glass on three different iPhones.
  • This includes lasering off the adhesive, taking the glass off, gluing a new back on, and cleaning.

The following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: My name's Abdullah. I am a phone-repair-store owner. Today, I'll be showing you the repairs of three different iPhones in three different conditions. They all have a similar issue, a cracked back glass. The repairs are pretty similar, but each model has a few different steps.

So, this iPhone XS definitely has seen better days. Those chunks missing on the top and bottom, those look a little scary. Water could get in there, debris could get in there and damage things, but thankfully everything's still working all right. The first thing we'll do for this iPhone XS, we'll put it in the laser machine and we'll burn off the glue that holds the glass onto the frame. IPhones come straight from the Apple factory with adhesive that holds the back glass down to the frame, and it's my laser machine's job to vaporize the glue that's holding down the glass to that frame. The laser burns at a very high temperature, enough to go through the glass, completely obliterate the color standing in its way, and melts the glue straight off the frame. So, my laser machine has a specific schematic for each iPhone model. It's designed down to a microscopic level to avoid any gaps in the frame and strictly go over the metal.

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Once all that adhesive is vaporized, we'll take it out of the laser machine and we'll go over to our work bench and start cracking away this glass. When breaking off the back glass, we have to be super careful not to let the blade puncture through the phone and damage an internal component. I use a series of tools to remove the back glass. It depends on the damage. If an iPhone has big chunks missing on the back glass and it has easy access to get underneath that glass, I'll just go ahead with a blade similar to a scalpel, and I'll go in there and I'll just pry off that glass. As you can see, the middle of the phone still has color in the glass. Apple started using glass backs starting with the iPhone 8 because of the wireless charging coil. That's the first model to have the wireless charging coil. The reason why it needs a back glass is so that there isn't a piece of metal that's affecting the electricity going through and charging the phone. The schematic in the laser machine specifically omits the area over the wireless charging coil.

During the second laser run, right here, you'll see we're vaporizing the residual glue left over after removing the glass. Once the second laser round is done, we'll take it back over to our workstation and we'll brush off the rest of that glue. [brushing] I use a metal brush that gets in and scrubs that adhesive right off of there. You have to have a surgeon's precision, because if you go in and get those metal brush teeth into a gap, you could damage a component.

Now that I've removed all the glass, I can finally start putting the phone all the way back together. When I'm re-adhering the back glass to the frame, I use industrial-strength glue. It's called B-7000. Straight from the Apple factory, they use cold press glue. We try not to get too close to the edges. That way we don't have a lot of seepage. After the repair is done, if there's any extra glue, we'll go ahead and clean it up with some glue remover.

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[glass crackling] Moving on to the iPhone 8, as you can see, this one, it's cracked, but it's definitely not as bad as the XS. And it just has hairline cracks all over the place, but thankfully it's not missing any chunks, so it looks like the inside components should be fine. So, this back glass comes off almost exactly like how the iPhone XS did. The only difference is, with it being the first iPhone that Apple used the back glass on, they actually made the glue a lot stronger for some reason. So, this repair, I tend to go a little bit slower when I'm breaking off the glass, and it tends to fling a lot farther just 'cause it's on there harder.

[glass crackling] One key difference with the iPhone 8 back glass restoration is that we have to be careful around the flash module. As you can see there, there's a big hole to the right of the camera lens, and unlike the iPhone XS, where the flash is embedded within the camera lens, this one is actually placed off to the right, and it's exposed. Since the laser machine avoids the wireless charging coil, the adhesive that holds the glass above it is actually still there, so we have to slow down and use a heat gun and loosen up that adhesive. [heat gun whirring]

Right here we have the iPhone 12 Pro Max. This gold tends to hide the cracks a little bit, but you can see them. While fixing this 12 Pro Max, we'll follow the same basic steps with any back glass repair. The key differences are the raised glass in between the camera lenses and being careful when we're going around the MagSafe components. As you can see, the glass is a little bit thicker around the camera lenses. Starting with the iPhone 11, Apple started producing back glass with glass that's about twice as thick around the camera lens. We do face an issue when we're going to break that glass. Since it's thicker, it is harder to get out of there. To get it out, we actually have to fragment it. And to do that, we have punch tools, and this is similar to something that firefighters use to break a windshield. Thankfully, this punch tool is specifically designed so that it only breaks it on a surface level and doesn't create enough pressure to damage any internal components.

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With the iPhone 12 Pro Max, we face a new issue, and that's the MagSafe. There are strips of magnets that go around the wireless charging coil, and those can be ripped off along with the glass when you're pulling it off, so you have to be very careful that we don't rip the wire connected to those magnetic sections. [scrubbing] Although it might seem like a nightmare of a process, I find it really fun, and it's also very fun to see the before and afters. And that's one of the main reasons why I do what I do, just to see the transformation of bringing things back to life.

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