Why Do It Yourself? - The Unauthorized Guide to iPhone, iPad, and iPod Repair (2013)

The Unauthorized Guide to iPhone, iPad, and iPod Repair (2013)

Chapter 1. Why Do It Yourself?

If you read the introduction to this book (highly recommended, as it is scintillating reading), you know who my target audience is, and you know exactly what constitutes an iDevice. Given that background, I have a question for you: Why do you want to learn how to repair iDevices? What knowledge or skills do you hope to derive by studying this book?

To be sure, there is money to be made for people with the interest and technical aptitude to repair iDevices, either in or out of warranty. Perhaps you want to be able to brag to your friends in the neighborhood bar, “I’ll bet y’all I’m the only person who knows exactly what is inside those iPhones you are all holding!”

In any event, this chapter starts with a presentation of what I consider to be the chief benefits of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) iDevice repair. I would be remiss if I didn’t provide coverage of potential disadvantages as well.

You also need to be fully armed at the outset with regard to the hows and whys of Apple hardware warranties. This chapter discusses in great detail how the Apple Hardware Warranty and the AppleCare programs work, as well as how these legal documents fit into your decision to potentially void warranty.

The chapter concludes with some useful tips and tricks for sourcing older and allegedly “broken” iDevice hardware. After all, you probably want to avoid using your current personal or company iPhone as your first candidate for disassembly. I give you excellent ideas for finding perfectly serviceable iDevices that you can resurrect to full working capacity if you want. After you’ve brought an iDevice back from the dead, what next? Sell them on eBay for a profit? Gift them to your friends and relatives? That’s your decision. In the meantime, c’mon—we have work to do.

The Benefits of DIY iDevice Repair

The decision to take apart an iDevice is not one to be taken lightly. As you’ll soon read, you have the AppleCare warranty to think about. If your device is still under warranty then removing a single screw means you just violated that warranty. Yes, it is theoretically possible for you to obtain warranty service from Apple if you scrupulously cover your disassembly tracks, but I advise against it (I explain why as we move onward).

The following list summarizes the primary advantages to learning DIY iDevice repair, and the following sections explain each bullet point in detail. Disadvantages are covered in this discussion as well. The primary advantages to learning iDevice repair include

Image Saving money

Image Fighting back against the “tyranny” of Apple Inc.

Image Preparing for a full-time or part-time job as an Apple tech

Image Earning extra money (reselling fixed devices, performing repairs)

Saving Money

My twin sister Trish called me up the other day, very upset. “Timmy, my iPad 2 won’t charge anymore!” Sure enough, I concluded after performing some diagnostic testing that her Dock connector was bad. Unfortunately, Trish had not purchased AppleCare protection for the device, and she has owned it for more than one year. Thus, the only option she felt she had available was to purchase a new iPad from her local Apple Store.

“Wait a minute, Trish,” I told her. “Let me repair that device for you.”

“You can do that?” Trish replied, astonished.

“Yep. Give me a few days to get the part in and your iPad should be as good as new.”

Within 10 minutes I had placed an order for an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) iPad 2 Dock connector cable, which set me back all of $10. Within 4 days I had the part, and within 20 minutes I had Trish’s iPad 2 charging as good as new.

The previous real-life example is a good justification for taking the time and exerting the effort to learn how to repair iDevices. You can definitely save yourself and those around you a substantial amount of money!

The potential downside to this advantage is that you might make a mistake while performing a repair and cause further damage to the device. In this case, you won’t save money at all; in fact, a mistake is likely to cost you extra.

The ways to ward against this problem are to practice on iDevices that you don’t plan to actually use. You’ll find you are much more willing to experiment and learn iDevice repair best practices the hard way when you aren’t invested in the utility of that device. Later in this chapter I share some places where you can check to find deeply discounted iDevices that you can add to your training environment.

Fighting Back Against the “Tyranny” of Apple

In my experience, some folks get awfully bent out of shape over Apple Inc.’s business model. Some iOS developers bristle at having to submit their apps to Apple for approval, much less having the Apple Store be their only sales outlet.

Apple makes it nearly impossible for non-Apple employees to perform warranty repairs on iDevices. Thus, we tinkerers and enthusiasts need to work around Apple’s “walled garden” if we want to succeed in our endeavor.

Going further, some iDevice owners jailbreak their devices in order to free the hardware and software from Apple’s usage limitations. Read Chapter 3, “Protecting Your iDevice User Data and Settings,” to discover more about jailbreaking.

Apple designs, sells, and supports its own hardware and software. Thus, it is within Apple’s right to lay down the law with regard to what people who are not Apple staff can and cannot do to our iDevices. That said, we are free to tweak, jailbreak, or hack away on our own iDevices so long as we are aware of the possible consequences of doing so.

Those “consequences” represent the disadvantage of this philosophical advantage. If Apple discovers that you opened an iDevice then the company will formally void your warranty and you have to pay out-of-pocket for a replacement device. This same result occurs if you attempt to submit a jailbroken iDevice for warranty service without resetting the iOS firmware first.

Preparing to Become an Apple Tech

As I stated in the previous section, Apple exerts the strictest control over the sale and support of its iDevices. The bottom line is that if you want to perform warranty repair on iDevices (which gives you access to Apple’s GSX online service portal and the ability to order parts directly from Apple), you need to be employed at one of the following types of business:

Image An Apple Store

Image iOS Direct Service Program shop

Image Apple Authorized Service Provider

Image Apple Consultants Network Partner

The Apple Store

As you probably know, the Apple Store is Apple’s retail presence. These are brick-and-mortar stores spread all over the world. Alternatively, Apple maintains an online Apple Store at http://store.apple.com, from which you can submit warranty repair requests and purchase new stuff.

Apple’s tech support personnel in the retail channel are known as Apple Geniuses. These privileged folks have access to all the glorious Apple internal diagnostic tools. They are the agents who assess your iDevice before determining whether warranty coverage is in effect and whether you’ll be issued a replacement.

Note: Replacing Is Easier Than Fixing

If you’ve ever taken your iDevice to the Apple Genius Bar for warranty service, you doubtless discovered that staff members almost always issue a replacement device instead of assigning a tech to perform a part replacement. In fact, I have never once heard of an occasion where an on-premises tech performed a parts replacement in an Apple Store.

iOS Direct Service Program

The iOS Direct Service Program is available to enterprise organizations, schools, and government agencies who own at least 100 Apple iOS devices and who seek to perform their own hardware maintenance.

As an information technology (IT) professional, I can attest that iDevices are not made specifically for business use. However, many institutions do issue and maintain iDevices and therefore need to maintain those devices.

Essentially, access to the iOS Direct Service Program allows a business access to Apple diagnostic tools and gives them the ability to order replacement units. Are you seeing a pattern here, friends? Apple really does not want anybody—even their own Apple Store techs—monkeying around with the internals of their iDevices. It is simply more cost-effective to issue a replacement and perhaps resell the failed unit after it’s been refurbished.

Apple Authorized Service Provider (AASP)

The golden credential for an individual or business who seeks to perform warranty repair on iDevices is the Apple Authorized Service Provider (AASP). However, now that Apple Stores have such deep penetration in the world, Apple has suspended applications to this program, at least as of this writing in late 2012. Surprised? You shouldn’t be.

In Nashville, TN, where I live, we have a long-standing “mom and pop” AASP called Mac Authority (http://www.macauthority.com). Nashville is Music City, U.S.A., and many (perhaps most) music industry folks use Apple products. Thus, Mac Authority had a thriving business. At least until the Apple Store moved into town.

The good news is that at least Apple isn’t revoking AASP status to businesses that currently hold the credential.

Apple Consultants Network (ACN)

The Apple Consultants Network (ACN) (http://consultants.apple.com) is a membership-only directory of individuals and businesses that are authorized by Apple to perform warranty work on Apple desktop and mobile hardware and software.

ACN partners generate a lot of business through referrals from—you guessed it—Apple Stores. I have a good friend who works for an ACN member shop. Most of their enterprise work comes through the city’s local Apple Store. A business contacts the Apple Store looking for advice on deploying Macs in a business network, and the Apple Store refers the company to my friend’s shop, who specializes in that type of work.

I have more to say about the ACN in Chapter 2, “The Tools of the Trade,” which discusses Apple certifications in greater detail.

I gave you all of this background information so that you’d know that by learning how to repair iDevices you have plenty of options open to you as a technician.

If there is a corresponding disadvantage to this advantage, it is the fact that you must play by Apple’s rules if you want to perform warranty repair work. Some people complain that this option makes them feel like an “Apple drone,” and they therefore go the rogue route and perform strictly out-of-warranty repair work for their clients.

Earning Extra Money

Two of the cool things about information technology are the following:

Image It is privileged knowledge that is beyond the reach of most people

Image People are willing to pay you good money for you to share some of your privileged knowledge

Your startup costs for becoming a part-time or full-time iDevice technician are the following:

Image Technician tools

Image Stock of replacement parts

Image Time and effort in building your skills

The technician tools, to which all of Chapter 2 is devoted, represent a one-time cost that should be recouped after your first few repairs. The stock of replacement parts represents an investment against future work. So long as you select your parts carefully (and I teach you all about that later), you should find use for them in relatively short order.

The third up-front cost is simply the time and effort required for you to build your skills. The next chapter breaks down exactly what those skills are and how you can most efficiently develop them.

The potential downside to this advantage is similar to the first advantage; namely, if you make a mistake, correcting that mistake might wind up costing you money. For instance, a good friend of mine who works as a self-employed iDevice tech accidentally broke the front glass panel of a customer’s iPad while reassembling the unit after a repair. Guess who incurred the cost of the replacement glass?

iDevices—A Roster

Now is as good a time as any to take a closer look at iDevices from a comparative standpoint. Apple’s iDevice portfolio has become substantial; to that end, the following sections describe the barebones characteristics of each generation and identify comparative trends. After this initial discussion, I limit our iDevice scope for the rest of this book (and explain why I’ve done so).


The iPod is a portable media player that has no built-in Internet access. The iPod Classic is the prototypical iPod. These bad boys include a mechanical hard drive (!), which means that one good drop makes your music collection (at least on the device) go bye-bye.

Apple released six generations of the iPod Classic, the sixth generation (see Figure 1.1) being introduced on September 5, 2007, with 80-, 120-, and 160-GB models.


FIGURE 1.1 iPod Classic, 6th generation. (Photo courtesy of Apple, Inc.)

The iPod Shuffle is the most affordable of the iDevice line. The Shuffle is meant as a low-budget, low-functionality media player. These devices have no screen to speak of, which means you must manage the device content exclusively from within iTunes.

Apple manufactured four generations of the iPod Shuffle, the last of which was released on September 1, 2010 and has a 2-GB capacity (see Figure 1.2).


FIGURE 1.2 iPod Shuffle, 4th generation. (Photo courtesy of Apple, Inc.)

Note: No Moving Parts

All iDevices with the exception of the iPod Classic employ solid state flash memory for persistent storage, meaning there are no moving parts. Solid-state drives work under the same principle as memory cards and thumb drives. Mechanical hard drives in these devices, with all of their moving parts, would be a very bad idea indeed!

The iPod nano began life as a little media player Apple called the iPod mini. The mini consisted of two generations, the second of which was released on February 22, 2005 and had 4 GB or 6 GB capacities.

Note: For the Editors Among You

I want to point out that while it might look funny to use lowercase letters when typing “iPod mini,” “iPod nano,” and “iPod touch,” rest assured that we are using the product names just as Apple uses them. Given that we’re voiding warranties and going where Apple doesn’t want us to go, the least we can do is refer to their product names properly.

The mini and nano models were essentially scaled-down versions of the iPod Classic. The main user interface for the Classic, Shuffle, mini, and nano is the scroll wheel. Personally, I love the scroll wheel as a navigational device. In point of fact, my favorite of all iPod models, including the touch, is the iPod nano 5th generation.

It is also worth noting that the Shuffle and the nano were the first iPods to use solid-state disk storage instead of super-old-school magnetic hard drives like the Classic. The main benefit of solid-state disks is that there are no moving parts, so the hard drives are much less likely to suffer damage during a device drop.

Speaking of generations, Apple manufactured seven generations of the nano, the latest of which was released on October 12, 2012 (see Figure 1.3). Unfortunately for me, the sixth and seventh generation nanos lost the tactile scroll wheel and instead use a capacitive touch screen like the iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad.


FIGURE 1.3 iPod nano, 7th generation. (Photo courtesy of Apple, Inc.)

Note: Fancy Schmancy

“Capacitive touch screen” is just an overly complicated term used to describe a touch-sensitive display panel like we use on all modern iDevices.

iPod touch

The iPod touch is essentially an iPhone without the cell phone capability. In point of fact, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs called the iPod touch “training wheels” for the iPhone. The market for the iPod touch is people who either are not in a position to switch their cellular service to the iPhone, or for non-iPhone users who want to leverage the neat features offered by the iPhone and its mobile operating system, Apple iOS.

Table 1.1 summarizes the major points of comparison among the five generations of the iPod touch. Figure 1.4 shows you what the iPod touch 5th generation looks like.

TABLE 1.1 iPod touch Comparison Matrix



FIGURE 1.4 iPod touch, 5th generation. (Photo courtesy of Apple, Inc.)

All of the iPod touch models are Wi-Fi only. Generations 1 through 4 offer 802.11b/g wireless connectivity, and the 5th gen iPod touch supports 802.11b/g/n connectivity.

I talk about this subject ad nauseam later in this book, but I need to tell you right here at the outset that Apple considers iPod touches to be disposable units. When you perform repairs, you’ll learn that iPod touches have most of their internal components permanently soldered to the logic board. Apple’s focus on disposability for iPod touches is galling to many, including myself, because these devices are not cheap.


The iPhone is the flagship of the iDevice product line. It is a smartphone, which is a fancy term to describe a cell phone that includes various other modes of communication, collaboration, and media playback. The comparison matrix in Table 1.2 shows that Apple has aligned the hardware between the iPhone and the iPod touch very closely from generation to generation. See Figure 1.5 to see the device in all its glory.

TABLE 1.2 iPhone Comparison Matrix



FIGURE 1.5 iPhone 5. (Photo courtesy of Apple, Inc.)

Because iPhone generations prior to the 3GS have gone the way of the dodo, I have limited the iPhone comparison to models beginning with the iPhone 3GS. For that matter, the advent of the iPhone 5 in September 2012 rendered the iPhone 3GS largely irrelevant. Regardless, production of the iPhone 3GS was discontinued on June 4, 2010.

At the very least, you can purchase 3GS models rather inexpensively and use them for practice as you develop your iDevice repair skills. Moreover, a 3GS is an excellent candidate for use as an iPod touch, as it has the same capabilities.


The iPad is a tablet (also called slate) computer. When Apple released the iPad, many skeptics called the device an “overgrown iPhone.” Boy, how wrong those skeptics were! In point of fact, my iPad 3rd generation is my most frequently used iDevice—I even use it more than the iPhone that I carry in my pocket.

The iPad is so versatile: I keep it by my side as a ready reference source for answering any question that pops into my head. The device is an eReader par excellence, and the Retina display in the 3rd generation model is simply stunning.

Apple manufactures both Wi-Fi-only models as well as those with Wi-Fi/carrier network connectivity. In the U.S., you need to be sure to purchase the correct iPad model (read more on model specifics in Chapter 4, “iDevice Repair Best Practices”):

Image iPad 2nd generation Wi-Fi only

Image iPad 2nd generation Wi-Fi + 3G (AT&T)

Image iPad 2nd generation Wi-Fi + 3G (Verizon)

Image iPad 3rd generation Wi-Fi only

Image iPad 3rd generation Wi-Fi + 4G (AT&T)

Image iPad 3rd generation Wi-Fi + 4G (Verizon)

Image iPad 4th generation Wi-Fi only

Image iPad 4th generation Wi-Fi + LTE (AT&T)

Image iPad 4th generation Wi-Fi + LTE (Verizon)

Image iPad 4th generation Wi-Fi + LTE (Sprint)

Image iPad mini Wi-Fi only

Image iPad mini Wi-Fi + LTE (AT&T)

Image iPad mini Wi-Fi + LTE (Verizon)

Image iPad mini Wi-Fi + LTE (Sprint)

Of course, a contract is required in order to activate cellular service; for current pricing details see the Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint websites.

Table 1.3 compares the manifold iPad models for you. Please note that Apple has already discontinued the 1st and 3rd generation iPads—these models exist in the table for historical and comparison purposes. Figure 1.6 shows you a picture of the 3rd generation iPad.

TABLE 1.3 iPad Comparison Matrix



FIGURE 1.6 iPad, 3rd generation. (Photo courtesy of Apple, Inc.)

Limiting Our Scope

One of the first things you’ll observe as you work through the remainder of this book is that I cover only selected iDevice models in depth. Why?

The bottom line and sad truth, friends, is that iDevices become unofficially obsolete faster than any of us would like. For example, I checked the AT&T and Verizon websites just now, and I discovered that neither cellular carrier sells the iPhone 3GS anymore. Apple has formally discontinued the 1st and 3rd generation iPads as well.

Moreover, with the exception of the touch, none of the iPods are worth the time, effort, and money it takes to perform a parts replacement. One of my good friends who has contacts within the iPod development team at Apple told me that Apple considers all non-touch iPods to be “disposable” hardware.

Finally, note that I don’t use the “G” designation unless the product brand name includes it. For instance, you can speak of the iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS because that’s what Apple called those iDevices. By contrast, I call the iPhone 4 as such and not “iPhone 4G” as you sometimes see online. The reasons? (a) Apple doesn’t include 4G in that model’s name; and (b) the iPhone 4 does not support 4G carrier networks.

Likewise, I refer to the iPod touch 5th generation as either “5th generation” or “5th gen” because I don’t want to cause confusion. Recall, of course, that 2G, 3G, and 4G are terms for cellular networks! You need to keep your terminology straight here, people. If you are to serve others as a knowledgeable, credible iDevice tech then you need to use the correct nomenclature.

Apple Warranties and You

It’s time to turn our attention to the subject of Apple warranties. Before you remove a single screw from your iDevice, you need to answer the following questions:

Image Is my iDevice still under AppleCare or AppleCare+?

Image If I’m still under warranty, why do I want to disassemble the unit myself?

Image If I’m not still under warranty, am I confident that I can complete the repair?

In general, I suggest that you not attempt any DIY operations on a device that remains under AppleCare or AppleCare+. If you are out of warranty, then it’s a crapshoot—your decision should be guided by the amount of money you’d spend DIY versus trading in your broken unit for a replacement.

But I get a little bit ahead of myself. Let’s discuss how the warranties work.

Apple Hardware Warranty

When you purchase an iDevice, you are given 90 days of free telephone technical support and one calendar year (from the purchase date) of hardware protection.

Caution: Read the Warranty!

Take some time to read the Apple Hardware Warranties (https://www.apple.com/legal/warranty/) so that you are fully aware of what iDevice damage is covered and what is not covered.

The Apple Hardware Warranty covers

...defects in materials and workmanship when used normally in accordance with Apple’s published guidelines...Apple’s published guidelines include but are not limited to information contained in technical specifications, user manuals and service communications.

Specifically, the Apple Hardware Warranty covers all of your iDevice hardware, including

Image The unit itself

Image The battery

Image Earphones

Image Cabling

So, basically, if your iDevice malfunctions in the space of one year and the reason for that malfunction lies in the hardware itself then you can bring the iDevice to an Apple Store to be issued a replacement unit.

Caution: User-Inflicted Damage Not Covered

Please note that the Apple Hardware Warranty does not in any way cover user-generated damage to the device. If you drop your iPhone and shatter the back glass then you are on the hook for the full cost of a replacement. If you broke off a piece of your iPad charger cable inside the Dock connector, then you are similarly hosed.

Speaking of replacement costs, out-of-warranty iDevice swap-outs have fixed prices that are set by Apple corporate and are adhered to uniformly by all Apple Stores. As of this writing, the following summarizes the standard iDevice replacement costs:

Image iPhone 4: $150

Image iPhone 4S: $199

Image iPad 2: $250

Image iPad 3rd Gen: $299

A common question folks have when they open their wallets for an out-of-warranty (or heck, even an in-warranty) iDevice replacement is, “Am I receiving a new or refurbished device?”

The answer is surprising: All iDevice swap-outs in Apple Stores are with new hardware. Apple is remarkably candid when it does offer refurbished hardware either online or in a physical Apple Store. You’ll find refurbished devices (typically older-generation hardware) in a separate area of the storefront.


Apple charges customers an extra $99 for AppleCare+ (called “AppleCare Plus”), and in my experience the warranty is worth every penny. The plan is available for all iDevices, and provides you with the following benefits:

Image Extends the default 90 days of complimentary telephone support to two years from date of iDevice purchase

Image Extends the Apple Hardware Warranty two years from date of purchase

Image Provides two years of enhanced coverage

The third bullet point bears a bit of extra explanation. Apple calls AppleCare for iPod touches the “AppleCare Protection Plan,” and its AppleCare for iPhones and iPads “AppleCare+.” What’s the difference?

The main difference between these warranty plans is that AppleCare+ covers you for up to two incidents of accidental damage, each incident being subject to a $49 service fee.

Given how many iPhones I’ve broken through drops and the like, this two-incident benefit makes AppleCare+ infinitely worthwhile.

Why Apple doesn’t offer AppleCare+ for iPod touches is a mystery to me. Then again, much of Apple is, to me (and to quote Winston Churchill) an “enigma shrouded in a mystery.”

Is there a catch to AppleCare+? Sort of. Your best bet is to purchase and activate AppleCare+ at the time you purchase your iDevice. However, Apple gives you 30 days after your purchase date to buy and activate an AppleCare+ plan.

Tip: AppleCare+ Available at Apple Store

You can purchase AppleCare+ at the online Apple Store. In any event, please be sure to read all of the details of AppleCare+ at https://www.apple.com/support/products/ so you can say that you performed due diligence on the matter.

Oh, one other thing before we move on. In case you were wondering where the provisions against DIY repairs exactly are in the Apple Hardware Warranty and AppleCare+ contracts, allow me to point it out.

The following extract is taken from the Apple Hardware Warranty for the iPhone 5 (https://www.apple.com/legal/warranty/), in the “What is Not Covered in This Warranty?” section, paragraph 2:

The warranty does not apply to damage caused by service (including upgrades and expansions) performed by anyone who is not a representative of Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider (“AASP”).

The following extract is taken from the AppleCare+ terms and conditions (https://www.apple.com/legal/applecare/applecareplusforiphone.html), section 4.2, item ii, part d:

The Plan does not apply to damage caused by service (including upgrades and expansions) if such was performed by anyone who is not a representative of Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider (“AASP”).

There you have it. Consider yourself duly warned! I cover how you can check the warranty status of a given iDevice in Chapter 4. For now, though, I want to round out this chapter by telling you where you can source used iDevice hardware for your learning pleasure.

Finding Old, “Broken” iDevices

Earlier I suggested that before you start tearing apart your equipment or anyone else’s, you’d be wise to invest in one or more iDevices that you can use exclusively for learning purposes. These are iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches that have no daily usage value to you or anyone around you, and you would not be heartbroken if you brick the device.

Note: Brick = Dead

Incidentally, brick is a slang term that you hear quite a bit in iDevice DIY circles. To “brick” an iDevice is to render it permanently inoperable. The good news is that I have found it nearly (but not totally) impossible to brick an iDevice unless you physically destroy the chassis.

Thus, the question arises: Where can you find some used iDevice hardware to play around with? The good news is that I have plenty of quality sources to share with you.

Pawn or Secondhand Shops

I have found some great deals on iDevices by browsing my local secondhand stores and pawn shops. It is a great relief knowing that you aren’t trusting the store dealer to sell you a fully functional iDevice. Whether the device is functional is beside the point at this stage of your development as a tech. You just need to get your hands on the hardware itself. Check out Figure 1.7 to see the practice iDevice hardware I procured for less than $100.


FIGURE 1.7 I paid a total of $75 for this very serviceable iPhone 3GS and “gently dented” iPod nano 5th generation.

Some iDevices might have some dents or scratches, but you don’t need to care about cosmetics. And you can forget about the secondhand shop offering you information on warranty—you have to ferret all of those details yourself.

eBay or Craigslist

I offer eBay (http://ebay.com) and Craigslist (http://craigslist.org) to you because they are legitimate sources for used iDevices. That said, I warn you to be careful in how you approach these transactions.

Please pay close attention to buyer comments for any eBay sellers with whom you plan to do business. Also, be sure to meet anybody from Craigslist not at your home, but instead in a well-lighted, public location. Don’t take any chances just because you are hot to get your hands on some used iDevice gear!

With respect to eBay, I suggest that you take advantage of the advanced search options (http://www.ebay.com/sch/ebayadvsearch/?rt=nc) to limit the scope of your search. For instance, when I search for items on eBay I set my advanced search criteria to return only items that are listed as “Buy it Now” and include free shipping. You can see some sample eBay search results in Figure 1.8.


FIGURE 1.8 eBay search results for scrap iPhones.

You can save yourself considerable time and money by using eBay and Craigslist “power user” tricks. For instance, try running the following search strings at eBay or Craigslist:

Image iphone for parts

Image ipod broken

Image ipad cracked

You can find some excellent deals on “broken” iDevices on eBay if you know how to perform an advanced search.

Craigslist is cool because you don’t necessarily have to limit yourself to your local area. As long as the iDevice seller is willing to accept payment remotely and mail you the device, you can do business with any Craigslist seller.

Before you delve too deeply into Craigslist, please take some time to read the site’s guidelines on avoiding scams. You can find the guidelines at http://www.craigslist.org/about/scams.


I was tempted to lump Amazon.com into the same section as eBay and Craigslist, but Amazon deserves its own section. You can find far, far more than brand-new products at Amazon.com. It is actually a bit frightening to me how comprehensive Amazon’s reach is, in between its own stock and their enormous network of public and private resellers.

I revisit good ol’ Amazon.com later when I talk about sourcing iDevice repair parts.

Yard Sales or Flea Markets

In my experience, the likelihood of finding used iDevices at a garage sale, estate sale, yard sale, or flea market is pretty low. The overwhelming popularity of Apple hardware is such that you would be hard-pressed to see anybody offering these products in these environments. If they did then the devices would probably be snapped up almost instantly.

Nevertheless, if someone in your life frequents these types of marketplaces then I suggest that you ask him or her to keep an eye out for used iDevice gear. I asked my parents, who are inveterate bargain-hunters, to do this for me. No luck yet, but you never know what the future will bring!

Friends, Family, and Colleagues

Never underestimate the power of social networking. Post a Facebook status update asking your friends if anybody has an iDevice that they don’t need anymore. Many people, for unexplained reasons, hold onto their old iDevices when they move to a more recent model. Why not convince the people in your life to turn their supposedly “broken” or “outdated” devices into cash?

Bulletin Boards

In my community in Nashville, TN, there is a thriving physical bulletin board in the vestibule of the local Kroger grocery store. All you have to do to post an announcement is to speak to the store manager and ask for his permission. A lot of people stop to check out that bulletin board as they enter or leave the store.

The same rule applies to public bulletin boards at universities, community centers, gyms, shopping malls, churches, and the like. Spend a few minutes whipping up a WANTED announcement, print several copies, and post them (with permission) to as many public bulletin boards as possible. You’ll find plenty of people willing to sell you their old iDevices. To that point, there may come a day when you post announcements advertising your iDevice repair services to the general public!

We can also turn to electronic "bulletin boards” in the form of newspaper classified ads or community websites. Be creative, and your hard work will pay off dividends.