iPhone Backlight Repair - The Ugly Truth



December 13, 2018 Update

I wrote this article back in June of 2012, and it remains as the most popular post on my blog site to date. Every month, it continues to pull more traffic than any post I’ve written on my blog site. I’m amazed at how this issue remains, so I have decided to update the article and continue to provide more information about the topic.

The original issue was centered around the scam of eBay suppliers selling backlight replacement coils on the iPhone 4, despite the fact that the repair is nearly impossible for the average person to perform, in addition to the fact that the repair would eventually fail even when performed by a skilled technician.

The issue popped up again with the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, and continues to remain an issue for that generation model. The 6S design caused two problems: First, the blowing of the backlight coil when improperly installing a new screen, and second, its tendency to blow the coil when exposed to water damage.

When installing a new LCD assembly on the iPhone 6S/Plus, inexperienced techs often blow the backlight coil by shorting out the circuit when pressing on the LCD connector plug into the board’s port. This is due to the exposed metal connector coming into contact with the pins surrounding the backlight coil, which is placed right underneath the edge of the connector plate. It’s a common mishap that many installers unfortunately stumble upon.

Also, the exposed pins on the backlight coil would equally short out when exposed to moisture trapped inside the phone after being submerged in water, or from the evaporation and/or migration of water inside the phone after being exposed. It’s an issue that has caused a tremendous amount of frustration among iPhone 6S/Plus owners.

Fortunately, this design flaw was addressed in future models and the instances of backlight coils burning out was nearly eliminated on the iPhone 7 model. But there is still apparently a large amount of iPhone 6S/Plus models in use, and that is probably why this post continues to draw so much attention.

My advice to anyone experiencing this problem with a 6S model is to have a certified IC repair shop perform the repair rather than attempting to do this on their own. I have only found a handful of IC board level repair outfits that can successfully do this service, and they are located in Florida, Texas, and New York City. The repair will usually cost anywhere from $25 to $50, and it requires sending the phone off through the mail for the repair, and having it returned to the owner.

I would exercise caution when selecting a repair shop, and only chose those who have an eBay rating of 98% or higher with lots of experience to perform the repair. There are lots of shops claiming to have the ability to do IC board level repairs, but it is extremely important to chose one that has proof of experience.

If you have had a good or bad experience with this repair issue, post your comments below, and I will keep this article updated with any developments as long as it continues getting a large amount of attention.

I’m truly grateful for all of the traffic and comments made to this post. I look forward to keeping you posted with developments, and please take a moment to check out this intriguing program that will help to support the continuation of the blog if you are an avid iPhone photographer! The original post follows below after my affiliate banner. Thanks again!


This is the first of a series of iFUBAR (fouled up beyond all repair) articles that I will be writing, covering all of the pesky iDevices that I have tangled with during the past year.

There are so many things that make after-market iDevice repair folks want to bang their heads up against the wall, I felt like a series was in order. My goal is to educate and warn people of some of the issues they will face before spending piles of cash on fragile Apple devices.

So let's get on with our first topic of discussion, the iPhone dim screen problem!

I actually hate to post this follow up to my previous article on the iPhone dim screen issue, but someone needs to blow the whistle. I have uncovered the ugly truth about repairing iPhones with damaged backlight coils and/or backlight IC chips.

Here's what generally happens...

You drop your iphone in water, turn it on, and there's no backlight. The screen is jet black. The only way you can see the icons on the screen is if you hold it in bright light. Or, you drop the phone and shatter the screen, and upon replacing the digiitizer/LCD assembly, the phone has no backlight.

What happens when you turn on your screen and you see no shining brightness? You have a backlight coil or backlight IC chip that is burned out.

The actual damage done to the phone isn't the culprit. What happens is, you damage the motherboard, and the ensuing short surges the coil/chip and burns it out.

The coil is what regulates the lighting of the LCD panel. When the coil goes, you get no light. The same is true when the backlight IC chip goes out.

The coil is about the size of a grain of rice, and the IC chip is the size of a baby's pinky fingernail. They have to be removed from the board, and new ones soldered in to restore lighting to your iPhone.


I uncovered the real story surrounding iPhone backlight repair when I offered to help a young friend of mine with his shattered iPhone 4. When I disassembled the phone and installed the new LCD/digitizer panel, I noticed everything worked with the exception of a lit up display. I never would have realized the phone was even functional had it not been for the charging alert sound that fires off when you plug in the data cable.

I searched and searched for articles covering this issue, and finally found information that pointed me in the direction of a faulty coil. Some sites claimed that the coil was the sole issue, and other sites claimed that the backlight IC chip would also potentially be damaged if the coil had sustained damage.

Next, I searched for advice on making a possible repair. I found a few articles that talked about replacing the actual coil and IC chip. I then discovered several sellers on eBay offering replacement coil and IC chips for around $15 to $30. They all made claims that the repair was reasonably doable if you had the right equipment.

In order to remove and reinstall a coil and IC chip, you need a hot air soldering station or an infrared rework station to set a very specific temperature to prevent damage to the iPhone's circuit board. Some claimed that you don't need a soldering stencil to make the install, while others claimed you do.

I decided to look into buying the equipment needed to perform this repair, because no local shop offered such a service. All I needed to do was to find a good repair video or step-by-step instructions on doing the actual repair.

But what raised a red flag for me was when I noticed that the replacement coil/IC sellers on eBay had no suggestions for repair videos on the net. One even assured me that I would find several on YouTube, yet I found nothing of the sort.

My suspicion grew when I noticed that none of these sellers were performing the actual repair service, but only selling the replacement parts. So I did more digging before purchasing the repair equipment.

I finally made contact with an iPhone repair service shop in Springfield, Missouri that mentioned repairing iPhone 3GS coils on their website. After the discussion that ensued, all of my suspicions were confirmed.

The gentleman who I spoke with told me that they charge $100 to replace coils on iPhones, and that no warranty or guarnatee was offered. The reason was that most iPhone replacement coils burn out within a few days of installation. In fact, 2/3rds of the replacements go out within a month of the repair.

The reason this does not work is because it isn't the coil that is malfunctioning. A short circuit on the board causes a surge to the coil that burns it out. So if you replace the coil and you don't fix the short on the circuit board, the new coil will eventually (if not immediately) burn out.


It's sad that there are so many scam artists on eBay and Amazon collecting the money of unsuspecting hard working individuals who think they can install replacement coils and IC chips. But until enough people get writing and reporting about this issue, it will probably persist.

There's really only a couple of ways that you can safely remedy the dim screen of an iPhone without completely risking losing all of your investment. That's either replacing and installing a brand-new circuit board, or installing a used board from a broken iPhone.

The sad news is that the integrated circuit board inside an iPhone isn't cheap. It's the most expensive component inside the phone. It has all of the memory, the CPU, the graphics adapter, the backlight coil and IC chip, and more. Everything that makes the iPhone an iPhone is on the circuit board.

To buy a new motherboard (or sometimes called "logic board") for an iPhone 4/4S on eBay, you can plan on digging out $150 to $200 from your pocket. If you're lucky, you might find a used "certified working" logic board for around $100 to $150.

Elsewise, you can take your chances on buying a broken iPhone 4 and plucking out the logic board, but broken iPhones with good backlight coils will cost as much as the logic board alone.

By the time you add up the cost of purchasing a replacement logic board, paying someone the labor to have it installed, and possibly replacing a broken or shattered display, you could spend upwards of $300 or more to get your iPhone 4/4S functional again.

But beware of what you buy. For some reason, there are sellers on eBay who are pushing bare iPhone logic boards for $20 to $30. Upon first glance, it looks like you're getting a steal-of-a-deal buy, until you realize that there are no chips on the board whatsoever.

What in the world can a person do with a bare iPhone 4/4S circuit board? I have no idea. Even if you were gutsy enough to attempt installing all of the components onto a bare iPhone circuit board, you'd have to get special soldering stencils for all the chips, and have some serious IC soldering skills to pull it off.


Here comes the hard truth... the facts that you must understand and accept when it comes to buying and owning  iPhones of any model. If you're thinking about buying an iPhone for the first time, here's what you need to understand!

The iPhone Is A Handheld Computer

Just because you only paid $200 for that iPhone with your 2-year contract doesn't mean you can replace it for $200 if you lose it, break it, or destroy it. What you are holding in your hands is a $700 handheld computer.

That little device has more technology packed into it than what most super computers could boast just 10 years ago. It is a highly functional technologically advanced work of wonderment, not a $200 phone with cute little icons.

If you're not protecting that iPhone 4/4S with a full insurance plan, you had better be wrapping it up in a big fat ugly 1' thick Otterbox case. Okay... maybe the Otterbox isn't really a foot thick, but it might as well be.

Why Apple creates such a fantastic but fragile device that has to be put in big blocky brick-like case to prevent shattering the screen is byeond me. But buyer beware, you better protect your investment or you'll be crying all the way to the bank when you drop it from the slightest height to a hard surface.

Cracked Screen Repair = Potential Further Damage When Reassembled

Just because your iPhone worked after you shattered the screen doesn't mean that it will work after you have it taken apart to install a new LCD/digitizer.

When you drop that precious piece of equipment down to a hard surface and you shatter the screen, there's a good chance that you damaged your logic board. If you're lucky, the logic board survived without any internal damage.

But there's a chance that the micro-sized wires, connectors, and soldering on the circuit board could be cracked or pulled apart or short-circuited due to the shock of the drop. The only thing keeping the phone working is the fact that it hasn't been disassembled.

When you take that poor broken iPhone apart, the force the tightly packed components in the case may no longer keep a broken circuit wire or connector touching and conducting electricity across the crack. Once you get the phone put back together, you could have the ugly surprise of a non-functional smartphone or certain components not working correctly.

A Burned Out Backlight Coil/IC Chip = iFUBAR Disaster

So your iPhone screen is completely dim, and you need a new backlight coil? Well forget fixing it. It's fouled up beyond all repair. Either replace the logic board, or throw the thing in the nearest trash receptacle.

Think you'll get a nice price for your FUBAR'd iPhone 4 or 4S on eBay with no backlight? Think again... it's worthless. There's practically zero demand for used iPhones with burned out backlight coils, because salvagers know better than to try to make use out of a damaged IC board inside of an iPhone.

If you own an iPhone, you better not ever think about risking dropping it in water or getting it wet. If you do, and you short out your backlight coil, you just sacrificed a $700 device.


iPhones are fantastic, highly advanced smartphone devices. I owned an iPhone 3GS, and an iPhone 4 myself (I have converted to Samsung Android products). But they are extremely fragile, breakable, and FUBAR-able.

If you're in the market for a new iPhone, you need to realize that the cost of owning one of these devices is not the purchase price that comes with a 2-year contract agreement. There are a few other things you better consider that factor into your overall cost. They are as follows:

  • Otterbox case - $40 to $75

  • Good screen protectors - $10 to $20

  • Insurance and/or Replacement Plan - $60 one time fee to $9.99 per month

  • Data/voice/text plan cost - $69 to $199 per month

If you have taken these things into consideration, you might be ready to own an iPhone. But now you know the ugly truth about what happens when you break or water damage an iPhone without insurance. Be educated and empowered!

Do you have an iPhone 3GS/4/4S repair story to tell? I'd love to hear about it! Also, please share your repair tips if you are a seasoned veteran. We'll see you in the comments section!

Carlton Flowers

iFUBAR Specialist

iPhone/iPod Touch Cracked Screen Repair Guide


NEWSFLASH: iPhone & iPod Touch screens are fragile!

Alright... that might not be very shocking news, and it may seem hideously obvious to everyone. But at the same time, even though we all know that these devices are far from indestructible, there are probably thousands of iPhones, iPods, and iPads dropped and shattered each and every day.

I get calls, emails, and text messages several times per week from distraught iDevice owners who have dropped their gadgets, run over them with cars, or given them a slam dunk in the toilet, and they want to know what to do.

In this post, I'm going to tell you everything that I've learned over the past years of fixing Apple products, and give you a good idea of what you are up against with each different type of break or malfunction.


If you own an iPhone 4 or 4S and you dropped & shattered your screen, chances are your repair won't be too costly. Even though your LCD is still working, you've got to replace the LCD and glass front because they are glued together. That front glass is actually 2 thin pieces of glass glued together. One is the digitizer, and one is the outer glass.

If you're lucky, all you did was damage the glass. But I've seen cases where the drop was so bad that the IC board gets shorted out. One of the biggest bummers when this occurs is that your backlight coil can burn out. I've written a complete blog post about that problem, so check it out. But if this is the case, you can throw your iPhone 4/S in the trash can because it is useless.

I've also seen damage occur to the vibration motor. This is also a cheap fix. The part only costs $5 on eBay, and you don't have to disassemble the entire phone to get it in. You might be able to do this yourself.

If you drop your phone just right, you can dislodge or break your WiFi antenna. There's nothing more frustrating than getting a repaired iPhone back and finding out days later that you have no WiFi reception. Check it immediately. It's an intriquite piece of the hardware, and will malfuction if improperly reinstalled.

Another casualty that comes with dropping the phone could be damage to the home button or power button. When someone brings one of these to me, I send them elsewhere. It's just not worth the time to tear down the phone to replace either of these unless you do this for a living.

Lastly, I've seen dock connector damage when people drop their iPhone while it's plugged in for recharging. This requires replacing the dock connector cable, and it can be somewhat of a pain if you don't have experience tearing down an iPhone.

You can expect to pay $50 to $75 labor to do any of these fixes at an authorized or non-authorized repair shop. Or you can try it yourself. I don't recommend tearing an iPhone apart to anyone, period. The only way I would recommend you trying a fix is if you don't mind risking tearing up your phone beyond repair. Keep that in mind.


The iPod Touch is repairable. I've done a few dozen, and I can give you this advice first and foremost: If you own a 2nd or 3rd generation iPod Touch, chunk it in the trash. If you have a 4th or 5th generation iPod Touch, it is probably worth fixing... to an extent.

The iPod Touch 4th generation device is fairly durable, but dropping it in the right way will shatter the display. Like the iPhone 4/S, the LCD and digitizer screen are glued together. You can order replacements seperately, but you can't pull them apart unless you have an expensive chemical separation kit.

Removing the old screen requires heating it up with a heat gun to soften the glue and pry it out, because it's not secured by screws. Getting the old screen unplugged from the motherboard is also a daunting task, and so is plugging in the replacement.

When gluing and setting in the new screen, you can destroy the LCD panel if you put even the slightest pressure on the wrong part. It's seriously sensitive. Only seasoned veterans or trained techs should even try this.

Replacing the battery on an iPod Touch 4th or 5th generation device is doable. It will cost as much labor as a screen replacement, because you have to gut the device to get to the battery. Same holds true for the dock connector if you have damaged it.

With the iPod Touch, you have much less of a chance of damaging the WiFi antenna because it is a ribbon cable that is soldered into the motherboard. But if you accidentally tear it off during the repair, count on adding more frustrating time to fix this. The replacement is not easy.

Lastly, watch out for rookie repair artists who snatch out the mainboard metal cover and rip out the volume control ribbons, and the tiny connector wires to the speaker. There's a ton of glue underneath the metal cover, and everything gets stuck to it. If you don't know what you are doing, you can easily rip these out and cause yourself needless frustration in trying to piece the wires or ribbons back together.

Expect to pay $40 to $75 labor when you see a tech about a screen replacement or battery replacement for an iPod Touch device. You can order replacement screens for as low as $20 on eBay, but you have to watch for shady suppliers.


If you dropped your iPad, let's hope it's not a first generation model. If it is, save the trouble and chunk that piece of glass in the trash. iPads are not any harder to fix than iPhones, and the parts seem to be fairly reasonable. Labor costs should be about the same as the phones.

As with the other devices, you can run into problems damaging the ribbon connectors to the volume controls, and you can also damage the WiFi antenna if you're not careful. You want to double check that the WiFi and volume controls are working after a repair, especially if you're dealing with a non-certified repair artist.


If you drop your iPhone or iPod into water, you better act fast, and pray hard. The damage that can occur can be irreversible. Whatever you do, if you drop your device into water, don't turn it on to check to see if it works. This will cause you to potentially short out the IC board and render it useless.

The first thing you should do is shake it off, and then do a rice bag treatment. Take a Ziploc bag and fill it with rice (that's dry rice for those that aren't very bright). Put it in a microwave oven and heat it up for a couple of minutes, or long enough to get it hot. Then put your device in the bag and zip it up. Leave it in the bag for 24 hours, and the rice will absorb the excess moisture.

If you're lucky, it might work when you turn it on the next day. If it doesn't, you're probably looking at buying a new device. Why? Because you've probably shorted out the board. One of the possible things that can happen is shorting out the backlight coil.

If you turn on the device and see a non-lit dark ghost image of the display when you hold it under a bright light, you're toast. Replacing the backlight coil is very tricky, and can only be done by a good technitian. But it will not last. Whatever part of the board that shorted out the backlight coil will still be damaged, and it will short out again in due time.

My advice for water damage is to stay away from water with your device. Keep in mind that 30% of smartphones and iPods are dropped in the toilet. I'll let you figure out why that happens, and you can use common sense to avoid that possibility.


The one good thing about fragile breakable Apple devices is that the repair parts can be bought for reasonable prices. The older the device, the cheaper the repair parts will be. If you buy your device brand new and break it within the first few months, expect to be gigged when you order repair parts.

Pricing on parts for newer devices always starts out high as the sky, and then they drop at a fairly fast rate. This happens because of the simple laws of supply and demand. As more devices are broken over time, the replacement part manufacturers will sell at higher volumes, which will lower the price.

This all boils down to one thing: Be extremely careful if you're buying a new device, and put it in a good case. Don't opt for the cheap rubber-only cases. They may keep your device looking good, but they won't guard against a drop to concrete or a hard surface.

It really amazes me how many times I see people cracking a new iPhone or iPad within the first month of buying the device for this very reason. If you're going to blow several hundred bucks on an iDevice, you better plan on protecting your investment with a good case and an insurance plan for breakage.

If you want to order replacement parts on your own, you can get them on eBay and Amazon. Don't worry about trying to find suppliers by doing a Google search. All of the reputable suppliers are going to be listed on one or both of these sites. In my recent experience, the best prices for parts can be found on eBay.


If you chose to own an Apple device, protect it. Get a good case. Additionally, I strongly recommend paying for an insurance or replacement plan and not taking any chances. I usually recommend against spending the extra money on extended warranties and breakage insurance, but this is something you better do if you don't want to break the bank.

Keep in mind that when you buy a new iPhone or iPad with a wireless plan, you're only giving a down payment for the device. Just because you paid $200 for that new iPhone doens't mean that it's going to be replaceable for the same amount of money.

A new iPhone is worth $600 to $750, and your 2-year wireless agreement has the rest of the cost of the device built in to your monthly payments. That iPhone or iPad is like an expensive laptop computer crammed into a micro-sized device. It is an intriquite, expensive computer that you cannot take chances on protecting.

For repairs, it is best to use an Apple-certified repair technitian that puts a warranty on their work. You can save money by using a non-certified repair tech, but you will void your warranty with Apple if your device has a malfuntion that isn't related to damage that you have caused. That's a real consideration.

And for goodness sake, don't take an Apple device apart unless you're okay with damaging it beyond repair. I am a non-certified repair artist, and I learned the ins and outs of repairing these things by tearing them up. That's the best way to learn if you're not taking a training course on repair procedures.

Knowledge is power, and I hope you've learned from my experience. Apple makes great products, but they are fragile as fine china, and it is worth taking every precaution to protect your investment!

Carlton Flowers
The iFubar Specialist