This man built his own iPhone 6s from spare parts
There are two things to take from former software engineer Scotty Allen’s latest YouTube documentary. The first is that it’s entirely possible to build your own working iPhone from parts obtained via Chinese marketplaces. The second is that it’s not something you really want to put yourself through, given the whole project took Allen over five months to complete.
The parts were purchased through the markets of Huaqiangbei, where Allen ended up spending “well over $1,000” on various bits and pieces needed for a working iPhone 6s. That figure includes tools and a lot of duplicates, mind, and Allen estimates that only $300 worth of parts ended up in the finished phone – a visually identical copy of the iPhone 6s he bought in an official Apple store.
Indeed, that’s part of the reason he tried to build an iPhone 6s, rather than the more recent iPhone 7 – that and the fact that it’s pretty hard to source spare parts for an iPhone 7 right now. “A lot of the parts come from recycled/broken phones, and so it would make sense that there just isn’t that much supply yet,” Allen explains in a blog post accompanying the video.
The video, embedded above, is nearly 24 minutes long, but it’s well worth watching. Not only does it include the construction and deconstruction of the phone and cover the problems involved in sourcing parts (logic boards are particularly hard to come by), it also gives a fascinating insight into how the Chinese markets operate – mostly using an app called WeChat for payments, rather than cash. At one point, Allen is able to return a faulty logic board for a refund without any receipt or contract. “People are very honourable,” Allen explains.
And yes, at the end of the video, Allen has a working iPhone 6s to accompany his own Apple-bought version. Even things such as 3D Touch and Touch ID work (“No super secret magic here,” Allen explains on Reddit. “I bought the Touch ID button together with the logic board. Both probably came out of the same used phone.”)
“I’m really impressed by Apple’s engineering,” Allen explains at the end of the video. “It’s so easy to repair and recycle these phones. I’ve got to think that Apple’s really proud of the fact that their phones don’t really end up in landfills.”
For anyone who doesn’t fancy the trip to China and the frustrations involved in building your own handset, you could always just buy a new iPhone 6s of course.