back to article How do you build a cheap iPhone? Use a lot of old parts

With the iPhone SE now officially on the market, teardown bloggers have begun digging into the new Apple handset. DIY depot iFixit says that its dissection of the SE shows that the new Cupertino smartphone leans heavily on Apple's older handsets for its hardware. While it is readily apparent that the SE's size and shape are …

Anonymous Coward

Rose gold iPhone - Like someone vommited a salmon dinner into a dirty ballet shoe.

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Re: Rose gold

Well said - by John Oliver

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JLV
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Funny to see a not-quite-flagship iphone @ < android flagship prices.

A welcome switch from $800+ phones all around.

I'd almost be tempted back but I like my BB Classic's keyboard & scrollpad too much. Plus, I get the sense BB phones are gonna be collector items soon :(

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This post has been deleted by its author

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"I'd almost be tempted back but I like my BB Classic's keyboard & scrollpad too much. Plus, I get the sense BB phones are gonna be collector items soon :("

BlackBerry OS phones maybe, but hardware wise hopefully not. I've just bought a Priv, and it's frankly fantastic. Coming from Samsung Note 2 and 3 previously I'm not at all disappointed in the Priv and hopefully plenty of other people won't be either and we'll see some more decent Android handsets from them in future.

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Anonymous Coward

Re. SE

Makes sense to upcycle used parts (you don't think they destroy working screens do you?!) and also this guarantees the data on those old 4S/5/6/etc motherboards is indeed destroyed.

That said even the displays from old Samsungs get recycled because making an OLED from scratch is three times as expensive as taking one off a cracked glass with the special machine and getting in some cases a 90% success rate.

The slightly damaged (screen burn) ones end up in cheap MP4 players with the bad area masked off inside the casing, have seen this done.

Reversing the damage is also doable and I've recently had a go at my S3 Neo with the repaired area near normal brightness on the blue.

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Pint

"...used parts..."

Do you actually think that they're using USED parts to feed into new production?

Such an interpretation makes no sense for several reasons.

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Re: "...used parts..."

From what I have read about Liam, they are. The iron in a Steel screw has been in the ground for several million years, spending a year in an iPhone hardly makes it any less worthy of being used again in a new handset. Why re-smelt something that is already in the final form and has been living in a handset untouched by human hands? I don't think they will be re-using e.g. the screen or flash memory in new retail units (though I think they are re-using such parts in reconditioned handsets that they provide as part of e.g. a warranty replacement), my understanding is that inert parts that are undamaged and can be re-used are indeed being re-used in new handsets. Some parts are used as raw material for melting down and recycling. I would argue that makes perfect sense.

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Re: "...used parts..."

I seriously doubt they reuse in new. but many places sell "refurbish" and "seconds". These may be repaired or refitted with second hand parts.

Though those screws do look really good quality in the video they provide...

http://www.apple.com/uk/recycling/

The risk of a consumer getting "second hand parts" in a product labelled "new" and not "new with green recycling" would get people annoyed. Should Apple tell them "we reuse screws" and it would be a good thing for those looking to stay green.

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Re: "...used parts..."

Pretty sure they just mean the 6E uses some of the same parts in the design, like adjacent years of some automobile models and/or similar models from different lines (e.g. Plymouth Dart and Valiant) may use some of the same parts. Rather than saying that Apple is digging into junkyards to recycle used parts to make new 6E phones.

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Pint

Re: "...used parts..."

"...makes no sense for several reasons."

Do I actually have to start listing the reasons?

Let's start with this one.

Number of new iPhone SE to be made: N

Number of broken and compatible older iPhones to scavenge parts: 0.0001 * N

You can nitpick the exact ratio, but it's obviously several orders of magnitude.

Screws? Seriously? The screws in an iPhone don't cost Apple $0.02, total. There's no upside to reusing screws, as they'd have to undergo QA before being used.

Used parts would have to be declared, lest a class action lawsuit happen.

It's such a silly concept that the ball is your court to find some actual evidence. Not that they're recycling phones (which includes disassembly), but that the used parts are being used in new phones.

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WTF?

Re: "...used parts..."

I think someone has got recycling and reusing mixed up....

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Re: "...used parts..."

Given the new phones are likely still built in China and the recycled parts probably aren't being shipped to China says there's not much of a chance of getting a used part in a new phone. It doesn't make economic sense to ship a box of parts half way round the world when those parts can be quickly and easily used locally.

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"This further suggests that Apple could use surplus 5S parts, or at least much of the same manufacturing and assembly gear, for the two handsets."

It goes further than that and is quite deliberate. Apple have built a massive recycling robot called Liam (thought to be named thanks to Liam Neeson "I have a very special set of skills"). Liam can do a precision strip-down of an old iPhone every 11 seconds and reconditions the parts. Pretty cool actually. Can't really criticise them for going all in on bringing real world meaningful recycling of last gen product parts into latest gen products.

Who would have thought Mek-Quake was a premonition.

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Mek Quake - now there's a blast from the past.....

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Good thing too

Re-use is a good thing, recycling is better than scrapping, and making the most of existing designs is just good engineering.

it is clear that they have updated some components as well, so it is just sound business.

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"Who would have thought Mek-Quake was a premonition".

Only if Liam screams "BIG JOBS ! BIG JOBS !" as each phone is dismantled.

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Pint

"This further suggests that Apple could use surplus 5S parts, or at least much of the same manufacturing and assembly gear, for the two handsets."

Surplus doesn't mean 'used'. It means 'surplus'.

"...recycling of last gen product parts into latest gen products."

There is no evidence for that. And it makes no sense for several reasons.

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Anonymous Coward

The setup I used is

900nm emitter from old smoke alarm (quick and dirty), fairly large Li-Ion battery and a red LED/resistor as a current limit.

This actually induces a weak spot fluorescence in the panel only in red mode so something funky is going on inside the screen as I've only ever seen this one other time on ZnS:Cu GITD screens.

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Re: The setup I used is

How and why does it work?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The setup I used is

Only in your deluded mind is this happening.

Have the meds run out and the voices come back?

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Re: The setup I used is

TO OP:

It seems to work for the same reason that aiming an IR emitter at a red OLED makes it brighter but only if it is already worn.

I've checked this against my photodiode setup and there *is* a definite increase in brightness which is clearly visible to the naked eye.

I am pretty sure that this is due to the combination of weak electrical stimulation of the OLED molecules and infrared (only works with *some* 900nm diodes!) causing some of the non radiative recombination areas to convert back into the correct pi bonded light emitting configuration.

If anyone wants to check this try finding an old Galaxy S/S2/S3 with screen burn, you will often find that the red area under the bar brightens under IR emission and this if done for long enough results in some recovery of brightness as long as you don't overdo it and "cook" the organics.

I've yet to try it on the blue but it looks very promising, Samsung haven't returned my emails for some reason.

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Re: The setup I used is

In other news - piece of red glass starts to emit red light when subjected to strong infrared. Magic.

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Re: The setup I used is

No, the red OLED is indeed emitting light. It appears to be a stimulated fluorescence effect and seems to be noticeably brighter with the panel switched on but not emitting (much) light ie fully black mode in the test screen.

I've also noticed that the same thing happens with the screen from this GT-S7110 so its not just me seeing things.

Whatever is going on, sustained exposure to this particular wavelength seems to be selectively affecting just the burned in areas of the screen and causing a gradual increase in brightness.

My working hypothesis upon reading a paper concerning using reverse bias on the OLED to electromigrate indium back out of the active area is that the IR light combined with the weak forward bias is actually having a photo-voltaic effect, possibly also moving electrons around in the polymer itself.

Will have to try it with a larger emitter (you can get 10W ones now) to see if there is a larger effect.

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Cheap?

Maybe compared to other Apple Phones.

It's very overpriced and gives Apple a huge margin. How much tax will they pay?

I'm amazed at the praise this rather ordinary touch phone has been getting in media.

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Re: Media Praise

e.g.: independent.co.uk

iPhone SE review: gently-refined handset is the best small phone ever

Really? What are they smoking? Is it even actually small?

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Re: Media Praise

Given that all flagships (bar Sony Xperia Compacts) are phablets now, the SE form factor indeed makes it a "small" phone. Not Nokia 2330 classic small, but "smartphone small" still.

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Re: Cheap?

It's not possible to tell if it's overpriced until it becomes available on the market and then sales numbers will tell us. Expensive, you could say, but I don't see how Apple could have overpriced iPhones if they sell in their millions.

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Re: Cheap?

The 4.6" Xperia Z3 Compact is significantly wider than the iPhone 5 S/SE

(I have the Z3 Compact, a couple of friends have the iPhone 5 S)

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Stop

Re: Media Praise

They weren't smoking anything, they were playing the game that ensures they all get lots of free apple kit, and all expenses paid trips to Apple press events.

That £250 premium that is added to every iPhone, guess where that money gets spent....

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Will the improved version be known as the iPhone SE/30?

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Hurray, finally an iPhone for poor people!

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Hurray, finally an iPhone for poor people!

Your definition of poor and most of the world's definition of poor are somewhat out of whack.

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Re: Hurray, finally an iPhone for poor people!

@Voyna: your perception of a joke and most of the world's appreciation of a joke are somewhat what out of whack.

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Re: Hurray, finally an iPhone for poor people!

"your perception of a joke and most of the world's appreciation of a joke are somewhat what out of whack"

I wasn't sure, because if you ever look at the Apple discussion boards you will see an awful lot of people who do, in fact, quite seriously make that sort of remark.

But otherwise I agree - my perception of the world is somewhat out of whack with most people. That's why I'm posting on El Reg and not using Facebook.

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Hurray, finally an iPhone for poor people!

iphones for people with less disposable income have been available since a couple of years after the launch for the first iPhone.

We called them "used" or "secondhand".

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Indeed, yesterday I saw a 'homeless person' sitting in his begging patch on his iPhone 6s.

I guess those phones don't pay for themselves...

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Actually a cool thing to do. Apple's next step?

I'd love to see a recycled phone made by Apple where they gave you say 2-3x the Warranty for piece of mind, but you get a cheaper phone made from returned parts. A certified 'Frankenstein Model', bettter than doing the same by buying a used one from Ebay.

Let's face it, The World's Landfill is full of Mobile Phones from just the last 20 years, you can't keep sticking this stuff in the ground indefinitely and not contaminate drinking water sources with heavy metals.

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Re: Actually a cool thing to do. Apple's next step?

You can already, they are in the refurbished section of the Apple store. I've bought a couple of iPads like this over the years.

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Why are so many of you going on about Apple recycling used phone parts? It's the design they're recycling. Why invent a new display when the 5S display will work fine for this phone? They basically took a 5S and updated the processor, and maybe a few bits like the camera. Must've saved tons of time and money on R&D, not to mention that they already manufacture and stock the 5S parts. Inventory reduction is a big cost savings.

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"Why are so many of you going on about Apple recycling used phone parts?"

Because the actual technical knowledge of the people positing is pretty much tapped out after signing up for faceache.

"It's the design they're recycling. Why invent a new display when the 5S display will work fine for this phone? They basically took a 5S and updated the processor, and maybe a few bits like the camera. Must've saved tons of time and money on R&D, not to mention that they already manufacture and stock the 5S parts. Inventory reduction is a big cost savings."

But but.. Apple made a robot and called it Liam.. And it's shiny and clean and pretty.. and and.. and

maaaaagical.

Seriously.. Best strategy is to sit back and laugh, They have no desire to be enlightened, and will only hate you for informing them of reality.

In the real world, Apple is a company who drives incredibly hard bargains with suppliers, and gets parts almost at cost, designs products in the most comically over engineered way possible, and generally suck.

In a fanboys mind, Apple makes a real contribution to enrich the lives of everybody they touch, and uses only the best materials, and magical industrial design to create wonderful products that just work.

Tomorrow, they may believe they are a duck.

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Thumb Up

I do have to say the "iSclack" is a Cool Tool

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Re. Actually a cool thing to do. Apple's next step?

Like I said, people buy used displays all the time on Ebay and they often work very well.

Yes you get the very occasional lemon but this is normally the touchscreen not the actual panel

or something mundane like bad manufacturing resulting in little to no cooling (thanks S3 Neo!)

easily fixed in seconds with a screwdriver and some acetone to get the flux off the CPU lid.

which often lasts twice the lifetime of the power connector/speaker/mainboard/etc.

There is *no* functional difference between an LED backlit display made today or a year ago and used once a day to check FB/email then recycled, if its been used the backlight only deteriorates at a minute rate which only shows up on measuring instruments.

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Re: Re. Actually a cool thing to do. Apple's next step?

Sorry, should also add that whatever I did to the red OLED also affected the blue resulting in a significant increase in brightness on monocolour mode but only where the IR LED was being aimed.

The anthracene derivative seems to eat itself more effectively than the other colors as anyone who has one of these will know, so any developed repair technique will need to address this problem.

I suspect that trying green light (perhaps 550nm) might work the same, maybe a combination of the two ie run the blue OLED at a lower brightness and alternate 900nm infrared with 550nm green

as this is known to have an effect on some biomolecules as well.

Google "confocal fluorescence microscopy"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re. Actually a cool thing to do. Apple's next step?

What is it with the downvotes this week? Seriously not cool.

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Anonymous Coward

£359 retail !

That buys a whole lot more in the Android market with change left over to buy a nice big fat SD card for the onboard slot and an away day to London for a family of four.

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Re: £359 retail !

That's really good if you can actually stand Android.

I can't, and I keep wishing for a decent phone OS to appear on the market.

Each new big release of Android I've given it a try to see if it improves, but always end up hating it and binning the phone.

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Re: £359 retail !

I'm right with you on that one. I loathe Android. The problem is that iOS is actually worse, and god knows how they even managed that.

I've not found a mobile OS I liked since webos went under. WinPho started well, but it's just turned into a complete train wreck the last couple of years.

I'm still holding out some forlorn hope that some form of converged Ubuntu might actually appear and be usable in the near future.

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I've actually broken my smartphone addiction and gone to a simple prepaid flip phone. Huge savings in both purchase cost and subscription fees. I suppose apple will have to muddle on without me.

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Anonymous Coward

RE. Re: £359 retail !

I hope you meant "recycle" and not "bin", that is incredibly wasteful.

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