Nikkei Electronics Teardown Squad obtained KDDI Corp's black model and Softbank Mobile Corp's white model of the iPhone 5 and started to break down the black model.
Like the iPhone 4S, there are two screws used on the bottom of the iPhone 5. And we started its teardown by removing them. Those screws are used to fix the back cover in the case of the iPhone 4S and the front display in the case of the iPhone 5.
The heads of the screws used to fix the iPhone 5's front display are smaller than the screws used to fix the iPhone 4S' back cover though they seem to have the same shape. When we tore down the iPhone 4S, we wasted time looking for tools for removing the screws (See related article). But, this time, we purchased a screwdriver designed exclusively for breaking down the iPhone 4S in advance. With the screwdriver, we effortlessly removed the iPhone 5's screws.
Then, we tried to remove the front panel but failed it because the panel was firmly attached to the phone. When we used a cutter knife and a flat-head screwdriver, the panel slightly moved, but no gap was made. On the front side of the iPhone 5, a glass plate is surrounded by thin resin. When we tried to remove the panel by sheer force, the resin started to come off.
As many of you may already know, iFixit, a US-based repair firm, tore down the iPhone 5 right after its release and posted a photo report on its website). In the report, the company used a sucking disc to remove the front cover.
We pulled the screen by attaching a packing tape to the screen. But it did not work because the adhesive force of the tape was too weak. Therefore, a member of the squad went to a dollar store and bought five sucking discs for ¥105. Each disc can hold a weight of 1kg.
We pulled the screen by attaching one of the discs to it and inserted the blade of the cutter knife into a gap. Then, we removed the front panel by using a spatula.
The LCD panel, touch panel and flat cables for the front camera, etc were located on the upper area of the phone. When the front panel equipped with a connector was opened, it looked like a clamshell handset.