IPhone Hack Isn’t Sold By Adafruit


[Becky] wrote in to tell us about her latest hack for Adafruit Industries. This hack will allow you to light up the Apple symbol on the back of your phone, and as she notes, it will definitely void your warranty. From the looks of the video, it requires some extremely good soldering skills, and optionally mid-level tape skills. If you’re up to the challenge, and have the stomach to see your iPhone on the operating table, the results are quite good.

One other challenge of doing this hack is that it uses a kit that Adafruit isn’t going to sell since it uses knock-off Apple parts. They exist somewhere, but where to source them would be a challenge. On the other hand, from a purely experimental/engineering point of view, the video after the break is quite interesting. Many of us would be very hesitant to take apart a several hundred dollar phone, much less solder to a power supply on it!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JR6a-7xlFxg%5D

36 thoughts on “IPhone Hack Isn’t Sold By Adafruit

  1. I would totally do this just to let my apple friends see it and question me about it and be like “Oh, its a special limited edition with a few upgrades” or something..And would TOTALLY go into an apple store and just lay it down so a “expert” would get all jealous and possibly angry he didn’t not only have the upgrade but wasn’t even aware of it. Apple people are silly like this. :-)

    1. This gives me an idea for a hack.

      Yesterday another one of my Asus Eee900’s went into the ‘salvage for parts’ box after the onboard 4GB SSD died (so that makes 2 of mine which have gone kaput in the same way).

      I’m sure it must be possible to hack the tiny USB 1.2megapixel webcam into a USB microscope…

    1. You’re new here right? It’s a pre-requisite that every post includes at least one sentence that doesn’t make any sense at all. Spelling and grammar are also optional, but don’t let that get in the way of all the fun hacks on offer :-)

    2. Perhaps I can help:

      “Many of us would be very hesitant to take apart a several hundred dollar phone, much less solder to a power supply on it!”

      Many people would rank disassembly of an expensive communications device as a low priority in a list of potential activities. In fact, applying the tip of a heated soldering iron to components of the power management sub-system of said device would likely be ranked even lower than the original disassembly of said device.

  2. I repair iPhones (and other iDevices), and I just wanted to warn people before they do this about a couple of things:

    – To do this, you will need to connect the LED to a power rail which feeds the LCD, and over a period of a couple of months, the LCD will start to loose brightness, contrast, and color vivacity (or whatever it’s called) due to this. Also, the Apple logo will light up virtually anytime there is any cellular activity – this may bug you.

    – There are definitely more places where you can get ripped off buying this than places which won’t rip you off. I’ve seen this being sold for as much as 100$ when my supplier (which generally has prices slightly above average) sells it to me for less than 13$.

    – The glass panel is relatively ludicrously thin because of the space needed for all the tape, wiring and the LED, which will make it feel super cheap, flimsy and your chances of breaking it are much higher.

    Just my 2 cents. I’ve done a lot of research into this, and I highly discourage my clients form asking me to do this – counter intuitive, I know, but it saves me the hassle of explaining them how they signed a waiver every time something happens.

      1. You really can’t do that… plus, the logo is mostly over the battery, which you don’t have a choice but to leave inside. Either way, this thing is mass produced, they’re not going to make a unique normal thickness copy for just one person.

      1. Because it taps into the power rail for the LCD (hence why it’s so close to the connector), and the LCD controllers get damaged due to the current draw through it is considerably greater than it was designed for (I’m guessing the LED draws anywhere between 10 and 50ma). Thus the LCD degrades very quickly and you will need a replacement after only a couple of thousands, maybe even hundreds, of hours of use. Another issue is that the LCD may be getting less power, and unlike other components, LCDs are require very specific conditions to operate properly throughout their designed lifetime – so, some parts of the LCD may be deteriorated at a different pace, which makes it very noticeable to the human eye. Are you new to electronics by any chance?

      2. I am not knew to electronics by any means, I would like to make a few points:

        1. The back-light and lcd panel are two separate physical entities, whilst I am not 100% sure how it works on the iphone, it appears to be a typical TN (or is it IPS?) display, in all of the lcds(bar oled) I’ve taken apart the panel is quite happy to continue displaying images regardless of the state of the backlight. Even if the backlight circuitry is shot to hell, shine a torch at the screen and you’ll see it happily chugging away.

        Even if the backlight could draw too much current I don’t see how would be possible for the actual panel to degrade because of it.

        2. Most people are not going to run their iphone backlight at 100% brightness, therefore there would be a safety buffer already exiting.

        3. I am going to assume this hack consumes about 10ma, an iphone 4 has a 1440mah battery which lasts about 10 hours wifi browsing according to apple.
        It would be a conservative estimate to say the screen consumes about 50-70% of this, anyone trying to squeeze the last few % out of a dying laptop knows how much effect brightness makes.

        (.7)*(1440/10)= 100.8ma

        Obviously apple wouldn’t test their iphone at 100% brightness. It would be fair to probably assume the screen has the capacity to draw up to 200-300ma or so.

        This means that the addition of the screen would draw about %3-5 more power from the driver chip than it was designed to. Not only would this likely be within specifications but lower the screen brightness any amount below 100% and you won’t even exceed specifications at all.

        1. Yeah I’ve also heard of people getting their screens washed out after some time after using this mod. There is a fairly clear correlation, and maybe the specifics weren’t right. But it’s still clearly damaging .

  3. thats pretty niffty.

    The thing is though, why the hell haven’t apple done this? its not exactly out of their range!

    why is it they spend Millions in R&D and NOBODY thought: “Hey that’d be cool!”.

    Apple really need some more innovative people in R&D if they missed this trick!

    1. Well you gotta wait for some other phone to have it so apple can “innovate” it, then wait for them to “innovate” the other features of phones from two years ago. So I would say two years after a droid or windows phone has it.

  4. i dont ilike apple stuff,,, but to quote a post from here, showing it off to an apple store employee… lmao he’d be yelling at the top of his lungs! that would be so funny!

  5. Hi,

    You probably can do same with 1xbroken lcd iphone4
    even have solder pads for powering up lcd. (next to lcd and digitizer contact.)

    There should be space between battery and logic board to fit whole lcd rail from your broken iphone4 screen.

    I was wondering how much voltage is on that contact you solder to, on you iphone4?.

  6. The lengths some people are willing to go to for having the old mixed up rainbow logo on their Apple products should be a clue to Apple.

    People want the old logo back. They’re tired of the blah, monochromatic style that may as well be beige.

    Nevermind that it was Macs that were beige, most PC clones circa 1998 were various shades of off-white or black while Packard Bell used greys and blues with a bit of purple accent on some cases.

  7. I have a light mod kit installed on my iPhone 4S since June 2012. I don’t recommend using Light mod version 1 like in the above video. There is a newer model revision that has been released. The V2 light mod (lightmyiphone.com) you don’t have to attach any wires. It’s just a ribbon end attached to a plastic square with 6 tiny LEDs around it. This version doesnt glow when charging (V1 does) and lights up when you recieve a call and text message. I picked up a V2 + 12 colored diffusers off eBay for 20$ and the back glass for $9.
    Buy it from the website and be prepared to pay 70$

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.