If you, like me, have had your iPhone 5 since not long after it was launched, you may be finding that your battery life isn’t quite cutting the mustard any more. (Thanks Apple, everyone has a 24 month contract these days but a 1 year battery warranty is just peachy.)
Now if you go to Apple for a battery replacement it’ll cost you 55 of your finest pounds or 79 of your finest US dollars; pretty pricey, considering you’ve already probably spent £200+ on the phone itself.
Third party replacement batteries are available, but some of the more reputable companies will charge you almost as much as Apple will. So where do you turn?
Well good news! I’ve decided to take the hit for you, and report my findings! As well as give you the benefit of my experience performing the change.
I purchased 2 replacement batteries (1 for me, 1 for Charlie) with included tool kits for £4.99 each from a seller called tomi7866 and researched the procedure for replacing an iPhone 5 battery.
One of the first links you’ll find when you Google the subject will be this YouTube video titled Replace your iPhone 5 battery in 2 Minutes. Don’t be fooled, replacing your original battery will not be this quick, Apple have kindly glued it in with VERY strong double sided tape. In fact I really doubt the procedure in this video, where you’re required to only lift the screen to a 90 degree angle, is even possible at all for your original battery, as prying it unstuck from the case is such a fiddly and time consuming job, it would be near impossible without full use of both hands. Perhaps if you had a helper.
The best guide I have seen is this one from iFixit, which uses the much less fiddly and, in my opinion, safer tactic of removing the screen completely before attempting to remove the battery.
One thing the guide fails to mention is that the best point to begin prying the screen free after removing the screws is above the earphone socket, as there is a small cut-out there.
The guide also tells you to unplug the battery before attempting to pry it free, however my experience tells me that leaving it plugged in until you actually remove it is a good idea, as it may take a long time to get the battery free, and some electronics can lose data when no power is connected for a significant length of time.
Even when using the guide the key is patience, I’m an experienced electronic engineer, having done some pretty tricky fixes in my time, and the difficulty of removing the original battery still caused me to turn the air blue, as well as break a few of the cheap and weak plastic prying tools that came bundled with the battery. In the end I had to resort to sliding a guitar plectrum (actually part of the bundled tool kit) under the edges of the battery to loosen it enough to slide my stainless steel ruler VERY carefully underneath and lift it free.
This approach worked fine when I was working on my phone, however whilst doing Charlie’s phone I unfortunately caught a flex cable I hadn’t previously noticed and broke it (I’m human, I make mistakes). Severing this cable disabled the power and volume buttons, as well as the silent switch and vibration motor; luckily by enabling “Assistive Touch” in the iPhone’s accessibility options under the general tab in settings, the button and switch functions could be used via the touch-screen until I sourced a replacement flex from eBay user phonestore_uk for £3.50 including p&p. Fitting this replacement flex (again using an iFixit guide) was quite possibly the toughest and most stressful fix of my life as you basically have to dismantle the entire phone to fit it. It did however work perfectly once fitted. So the lesson is: be careful of this flex when replacing the battery.
REMEMBER its important not to puncture the battery as this can cause a fire, so the battery must be removed intact. Also take care not to lever against any of the surrounding components.
If you can help it (unlike me) it is also best to avoid conductive metal tools as even if the battery is unplugged some charge may remain in circuit components, and you don’t want to risk damage by shorting connections. Also you don’t want to add any scratches or gouges to your phone.
It may help you to know exactly where the double sided tape and flex cable are located, as I didn’t have this information, so here’s it’s positioning.
A couple of weeks on and both batteries are working absolutely fine, with battery life on both our phones returned to like-new levels.
So there you have it, the cheap way does work! But don’t get over confident, or you might end up having to replace a flex cable :S
I accept no responsibility for any damage you may cause to your iPhone if you follow any of the information or guides included in or linked to from this blog and screw up royally. That’s on you bud.