To the majority of consumers, smartphones are a closed box. You switch them on, charge them, use them, charge them again, and keep doing that until the urge to upgrade takes over. If they break, you take them in for repair (or use that as an excuse to upgrade). We never look inside, in fact, regular teardowns of smartphones reveal how difficult even opening them can be.
Scotty Allen is a geek, and one who spends a fair amount of time in China. When in Shenzhen, he couldn’t fail to notice the abundance of cell phone parts available to buy at the markets of Huaqiangbei. And of course, that led Scotty to wonder if he could make his own iPhone. Rather than leaving the question unanswered, he decided to find out.
The answer, as the fascinating video below reveals, is “yes, you can.”
There are a few gotchas, though. As with any electronics project such as this, you need patience, knowledge, help, and the availability of parts. Scotty had all of these, but there was still quite a bit of frustration and a few months of work interspersed with head scratching. But he got there in the end, even managing to find an original box and all the accessories that come with an official iPhone 6s.
What’s clear from his experiment is, not only is making an iPhone possible, it can be done using recycled parts. Very few of the components inside long-discarded iPhones go to waste. Rather than in landfill, they end up back on the markets, sold as part and typically in bulk. Even broken parts get fixed, as Scotty’s attempts to get a working logic board revealed.
If you’re wondering why Scotty didn’t attempt to build an iPhone 7, the answer is simple. The markets in China rely on recycled/broken phone parts, and with the iPhone 7 being relatively new such parts are quite scarce. Older iPhone parts, however, are abundant due in no small part to the constant upgrade cycle consumers are locked into.