Posts tagged: iphone

Another Bumper Case Fail

By , October 15, 2011 9:01 pm

I am on the endless search for the perfect case for my iPhone 4. I have decided that I like the most minimal case possible and I do not want to spoil the nice white color. I’ve tried the official Apple bumper case, which is quite nice except that I had to dremel out the bottom to fit an aftermarket connector.

Several months ago I found a unique case from the folks at Cygnett. It was clear around the edges and had a white rubber at the edges. It looked pretty unique so I got it for my phone. At first I really liked the way it made the phone look. It also felt pretty good as it didn’t make the svelte iPhone too chunky. I thought I had found the perfect case.

Fast forward 4 months. The white was turning blue from my jeans I guess. I normally keep my phone in my front pockets so it’s going in and out of my jeans constantly. I tried bleaching the plastic, but alas, it appears that the dye had become seeped into the plastic. Oh well, I thought. Even if it’s tinted, it still works well.

Then the unthinkable happened. The case started to come apart. The while part and the clear part is separating. Here’s a picture of it so you can see what I mean.

The white and the clear don't like each other.

I recall that the case had a warranty of a year and it hasn’t been that long. So I head over to the Cygnett website to file my claim and things got weird. When I get to the claim page and try to file a claim, all I get is a dialog that says “DEATH KINGS”. Seriously! Click on the email, pdf, or print link from that claims page and a dialog will appear that says “DEATH KINGS” and that’s it. Nothing else to do.

How annoying is this? I guess I’ll try and superglue the thing together, but I am not hopeful. Maybe after a few weeks I’ll get an iPhone4S and then go shop for another case. Sigh, I had such high hopes for this case. The search continues. If you have a especially great case for your iPhone, leave a comment in the post below. I’d appreciate the guidance. Thanks.

All the Gory Details

By , May 19, 2011 7:11 pm

I recently changed my black iPhone to white. I found a vendor on eBay that sold all the pieces as a kit for $75. That was a lot better then $199 at the Apple store with another 2 year contract! It was a bit of a commitment getting this done, but with the right tools and patience it can be done by a “regular” tinkerer like me. My process took about 1.5 hours in all, but I was going really slow and cataloging everything with pictures. Here’s the process in a few pics.

The paper with screw guides on a magnetic tray

All the parts can be seen above. I have already taken off the back as that’s super easy. Two screws on the bottom and you just slide it up and pop it off. The magnetic tray I got from an auto parts store. It was invaluable to keep the tiny screws from disappearing.

Power connector unfastened and battery is coming out

I heard that the battery was easy to take out…NOT! It was secured with adhesive and I had to pull very hard and firmly to get it to finally lift out. The picture above shows the battery being lifted out.

There are 5 connectors at the top near the camera.

You can see the little screws are  in their respective circles. Also in this picture you can see the vibrating device just outside the top edge of the phone. It’s pretty cool how it’s contacts are connected. There’s basically a copper plated spring steel “prong” coming off of it. Screwing it in place forces the prongs to contact the power source. I thought it was a nice way to accomplish a connection with no wires.

Main board is being removed. Speaker box at right.

After all the connectors are out, you can lift the main board out of the phone. In this picture you can also see at the far right, the plastic box that holds the speaker and causes it to amplify the volume. The audio cable is a teeny tiny black wire with a unique circular connector. I was really fascinated by the various fasteners.

The touchscreen and LCD assembly is held by these 10 screws.

It’s hard to understand the scale of those top screws without actually trying to handle them. I had to break out tweezers for this step. Those 10 screws hold the touchscreen and LDC assembly to the phone frame.

Separating the screen was the most nerve wracking part.

I had to pry quite a bit to get the glass separated from the frame. You see, there’s an adhesive involved. I ended up using a swiss army knife blade to cut and pry until it came loose. I was afraid I was going to crack the glass, but I didn’t.

The button was a PAIN to replace as well

Again they don’t tell you that there’s adhesive securing the plastic button to a rather delicate mylar film with contact stripes on it! So once again I broke out the swiss army knife and ever so carefully pried the button away from the mylar, all the while hoping that I didn’t damage the contact stripes. It proceeded VERY carefully as there was no replacement for this. If this button didn’t work, I would be royally screwed. Luckily it all went well.

So that was the last major setback. After that, I just had to re-assembly everything in the right order. The tolerances are extremely tight in the phone. They did not waste an lot of space.

So a few tips, get really really small screwdrivers. I just needed a Philips and a flathead. The magnetic tray was key! It kept all those tiny screws from getting lost. It also kept them pretty close to the circles on the paper I was working on . The circles are roughly equal to the locations on the phone interior.

Finally, if something doesn’t fit just perfect, stop and check clearances and how the parts are seated. Everything fits in a very precise manner. If something looks bents or is not flush to the surface next to it, it’s probably not right. Take it apart and check it again.

OK, that’s my experience that I wanted to share with you. If you decide to go for it, good luck and take your time!

White iPhone Satisfaction

By , May 14, 2011 10:34 am

So when the first iPhone came out, I got the first one available. It was black. When a white come came out, I “upgraded” and got a 3GS. It actually had a faster radio and more memory so it really was an upgrade.  Fast forward and the iPhone4 is introduced in black and white. I wanted a white one, but they were not available. Once again I got a black one.
Now history repeats itself. The white iPhones are introduced last month and there are already rumors of an iPhone 5 in the works. What’s a guy to do? I like the white, but I don’t want to get the same phone and pay a ridiculous premium just for a color. Hmm, perhaps there’s another way.

So I figured that replacement parts for the white phone must be available now since it’s officially introduced. Did a quick search and … bingo! Not only that, I came across this awesome video on how to do the face swap. Now if you know me, I am a tinkerer so I ain’t afraid of nothing, even it means breaking the device.

I thought I’d start “easy” and do the back first. I ordered a white back from an eBay seller and thought I’d give it a go. It arrived quickly and upon inspection, it looked like a really good quality piece. It really was OEM as stated. Sometimes you can’t be so sure on eBay. Taking the back off was simple – two screws and a push.

With back off, I can also see the inside of the phone. Getting the new back on was simplicity itself. Plop on the new back (be sure and take off the plastic protectors) slide it back into place and replace the screws. Really, that’s it.

The new back looks as slick as I had hoped.

As you can see, I now have a white iPhone back. So far it has been a week and I still love it. The quality is great and people think I got a “new” phone. Now the giveaway is the front. It’s still black. This is where it gets tricky.

You see, the front cannot be replaced so easy. If you viewed the video  on the website I mentioned earlier, you’ll see that the front is a bit more of a commitment. Also, the part isn’t so cheap as you will be replacing the entire touch screen and the LCD panel. The best deals I can find are around $80-100. It’s still cheaper than a new white iPhone. I’m still thinking about it, but it’s just a matter of time. I’ll probably bite the bullet and do it.

In the end, I have managed to get most of my white iPhone satisfaction and I won’t have spent more than the cost of  a few cases. I’ll also have some spare black iPhone parts for sale.

Oh, one more thing. The white iPhone parts seem to make the phone slightly thicker. It’s hardly noticeable expect that cases will not fit quite right. So I am going caseless for now. I figured that since I know how to replace the back and front, a damaged panel is not a big deal anymore. 😉

So if you are hankering for a white iPhone, know that you can convert your black one for not much more than $100.  Now the iPhone 5 watch begins…

iPhone as a Home Theater Controller!

By , March 8, 2011 11:11 pm

For many years I have searched for the ultimate ease of use in a Home Theater. You know what I mean! I’ll bet there are 3-7+ remotes lying about on your coffee table and that your significant other and kids can’t figure out how to put on a movie to watch! I have tried all kinds of solutions and the best thus far was a Logitech Harmony Remote. It still required scads of programming, but at least it worked pretty well with most components. It was my defacto system for several years. But these remotes have upwards of 50 buttons and can still be a bit daunting.


A new kind of A/V receiver

Then I came across a Yamaha NEOHD. What a fascinating piece of kit! It is a very non-traditional a/v receiver in that it includes Wifi, can support an iPod, and has NO UI at all by itself. The remote is even more odd with it’s paltry buttons. According to Yamaha, everything plugs into this one slimline box and it becomes the central control for everything. Hmm, that got me thinking and reading more about it.

I mentioned this to an old friend and she thought it would be cool for both of us to get one if I would help her figure it out. Basically I get to be the tester for this unit and find all the warts before she had to commit. Well, I am a sucker for new cool technology.


However, one thing put me WAY over the edge. Not only can you control this thing with it’s ultra simple remote, but get this. You can use your iPhone! Almost all the functions of your system can be controlled from an iPhone app. Can’t find the remote, whip out your iPhone. Listen to the radio (streamed from the internet) and then shut it off as you walk out the door with your phone! How cool is that. Here’s a few shots of the UI.

The activity based menu is the main screen

Is that crazy or what? You can choose to Watch and then choose your cable box, Blu-Ray player, streaming Roku box, whatever. The Play will hook you to your Xbox and Wii, then the Listen gives you FM, Internet, and iPod!

Now the control is not just high level control. Check out this shot of the Blu-Ray player screen.

All major and minor controls in tiny buttons

You can basically control anything in your components from your iPhone. How this works is that there are little IR blasters that come out of the back of the NEO unit and then you have to place the blasters over the sensors in your components. The NEO knows the codes you need and will send them to the proper components.

So does it all work? Yes, but not without a few hours of frustration. As it turns out, it’s not so easy to figure out where the IR sensors are in your components. They are all “dark” so as not to disturb the styling. The trick is to use a very powerful flashlight and search along the perimeter of your devices for a break. It’s not always easy. Until I found the right locations, nothing worked because the signals were not being transmitted to the right place. It was a bit frustrating.

I called Yamaha a few times and I can tell you that their support is not the best. OK, it was horrid. After multiple tries to reach them, I finally got someone who basically said the unit it so new that they need to pull up the manual. Someone was going to call me back with more info. That was a few days ago. Meanwhile, I figured it out by myself.

So I won’t go over all the features, you can see it on their website along with some great videos. I can tell you that it all works very well once the proper setup is complete. The amp is not as robust as my old Sony ES, but it works plenty fine for my application.

Bottom line? Great integration, Nice on TV screen UI, super feature set, easy to use. Setup – not so much. At $800 it’s a bit much, but they recently dropped the price to below $500. A very interesting hybrid device indeed!


You can never have enough power! For your phone.

By , February 11, 2011 8:59 pm

I found an amazing charger for my iPhone. It’s priced right and it has very unique features. But before I show it to you, let me tell you about my iPhone usage.

Like you, I take my iPhone everywhere. It’s amazing what it can do and I use it for things like video podcasts, a GPS and as a modem for my laptop. The problem is that these activities take a HUGE toll on the battery. Your all day phone becomes depleted in a few hours when it’s constantly connected to the web  and burning up processor cycles. So I am always looking for ways to extend my battery life.

I bought a Belkin car charger and that was only OK. It charges well enough, but the plug into the iPhone was a bit bigger than the original and it wouldn’t fit when I had my bumper case on. Now if I got “Apple” car charger, it was going to be $30. But I need one in every car!

I found this great unit at Fry’s the other day. It only set me back $18. (Note that the white cable in the picture is NOT an Apple cable, but a spare that I got for $6. Apple wants $19). So what’s so great about it?

Great charger with a piggy back battery!

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