Disaster: Home button replacement results in tragedy.

[Click to enlarge]

See that little guy in the middle, all alone? The connector with a short piece of flex connecting to nowhere? That's what happens when you accidentally pinch an iPhone 4 screen's digitizer cable between the screen and phone body then try yanking on it. Without this little guy, the phone won't register touches on the screen. Sadly, this is non-reparable; the entire screen needs to be replaced... AGAIN! The upside to this is that non-defective screen assemblies with white bezels exist now, so at least I'll have a working proximity sensor while maintaining the sexy white & black iPhone look that makes the ladies go wild. The new screen should arrive later in this coming week.

In the mean time I'm slumming it with my old 3GS. I've only been using it for a half a day and I'm already disgusted with the quality of the display and the pixel density. I have a whole new appreciation for the 4's screen which is still, over 1 year later, the best display on the market.

I did manage to replace the home button, which was a breeze (provided we ignore the fact that I ruined the phone in the process). The disassembly process goes really quickly now, since this is the fourth time I've had to do it. Since I still haven't verified that the new button works (it clicks, that's a good sign), I can't tear apart the defective one to see what happened to it in case I need it. However, I do have the broken one that iFixit replaced for me, so I took it apart.

Home button upside-down and disassembled along with another one right side up.

It's a really simple thing. Two wires pass through a thin flex cable onto the back side of the button. One wire connects to a printed metal ring, the other passes underneath to a concentric, printed metal circle. The part that does the clicking is a dome shaped piece of metal glued to a flexible piece of clear plastic. The outer edge of this dome makes contact with the metal ring on the back of the button and the clear plastic holds it in place. When you push the button, the dome presses against the mounting surface behind it, warps inward (click!) to short the two printed metal circles together. 

Since the moisture sensor near the home button of my phone is lit up red, it's likely that some moisture got in between the button and the dome and corroded it, making it a crappy contact. That would explain the intermittent nature of the problem. If it's anything else, this replacement will have been useless. Womp.

Here's to iPhone 5 surviving a whole year without my intervention.