reconsidering – Saw “disassembled” phone frames on social media channels, and thought “Oh, I had one of those!” Recently, Alex Birch and Andy Chen got a chance to create some of their own phone art thanks to the Xreart Deconstructed tech artwork series. Alex got an original iPhone, Andy got an iPhone 4S.
What is this?
Xreart sells a series of kits where you can show the inner workings of old phones and game consoles in a beautiful setting. It includes all the tools you need.
What’s in the box?
dew: I received the Xreart Framed iPhone Kit with my iPhone 4S. All kits come with the same tools:
- cup sucker
- metal spot tool
- guitar pick tool
- a brush
Alex: The iPhone 2G (1st generation) that I was excited about has been sent because it has some emotional meaning to me. The same tools and supplies are included, but a different design is included in the EVA foam due to the smaller size of the frame.
dew: iPhone 4S set frame size is 44.4 * 32.6 * 3.2cm (17.48 * 12.83 * 1.26in).
Alex: The iPhone 2G set was slightly smaller at 33 * 33 * 3.4 cm (13 * 13 * 1.3 inches).
Design and Features
dew: The box also doubles as a display frame. A printed sheet with outlines of the parts is also included. The premise is simple: disassemble the phone and stick small parts on the wallpaper.
Alex: I will add that the Xreart Framed iPhone Kit arrived quite well. Everything you need is tucked inside the frame inside an open-cell foam tray and cover that doubles as a work mat. The printed design looked a little different for the iPhone 2G.
dew: But how do you disassemble the phone? There is a simple guide on the display panel: a QR code for a video link.
dew: This link sent me to a page with many different phone models. The bad news for me and the iPhone 4s is that the video wasn’t very descriptive. It went so far as to remove only the back cover, and nothing more. The rest I had to figure out.
Alex: The QR in the Xreart Framed iPhone Kit went to the same page above, and while the 2G video got me a little further, it didn’t handle removing all the small items that had locations printed on the card. Like Andy, I decided it would be more fun to spy it rather than head to iFixit.
dew: The first thing I noticed about the iPhone 4S in the Xreart Framed iPhone Kit is how small it is compared to the newer iPhone 13 Pro.
Alex: Could not agree more. I thought it was a miniature replica for a moment, so I went looking for 2G in my device set to confirm. I will say that although the phone looked very good and had some expected scratches and dings, there was a small dent near the 8GB logo where it was opened to remove the battery.
dew: After the video, I was able to disconnect the two halves of the iPhone 4S and discovered that there was no battery. The folks at Xreart told us they include a “dummy battery” instead, which makes sense. Charging lithium batteries is dangerous, but I didn’t find a dummy battery in my kit.
Alex: same thing here. There is no dummy battery in the Xreart Framed iPhone Kit, but as you can see from the large cavity below, it is large enough that it wouldn’t fit in the card even if it was included. Quick note that if you’re inspired to try one of these combinations, go slow and don’t force anything. There are always little clamps, latches, and adhesives and some of the parts themselves can be really sharp, not to mention the tools.
dew: I finally received the dummy battery separately. This is what it looks like (left) next to my “real” battery (right). not bad. Even the part number is correct.
dew: Although I could search the web for disassembly instructions, I decided to give it a try myself. Here’s the motherboard for the iPhone 4S.
Alex: One thing not mentioned anywhere I’ve seen is that there are a lot of great ribbon cables and tiny connectors that really need to be cut to fit the basic components of the layout. The below threaded mixture of the headphone jack, power button, volume buttons, and vibration motor is a good example of this.
dew: Here is a close-up of the motherboard. Some of the components are almost the size of a human hair (pictured).
Alex: The only real issue I had with the Xreart Framed iPhone Kit was that the phone I received was clearly experiencing some water damage at some point. The lower bolts were completely rusted and immediately stripped. I had to bend the polished frame back and forth so that the screw heads came loose.
dew: I noticed that the bits on the iPhone 4S were slightly different than the printed design might suggest. I suspect there may have been different versions of the devices. But it was close enough.
Alex: Likewise, I found a few things named where I couldn’t find the part, but also a lot of parts that I preferred to include around the margins because there was enough real estate. Depending on how meticulous you are, there can be quite a bit of scrubbing to remove adhesive residue. Tweezers are your best friend too as there are some pretty nice parts to be found for exfoliating black strips and foam. When it’s time to glue it sure helps to do all the gluing at once, then let it dry for a while before framing.
Alex: Here’s how my project ended. You can see above and below that I ended up taking apart my 2G too to use up some cleaner items including the etched back of my personal phone from my time at Griffin Technology. I remember camping with my co-workers to get it on launch day and this set is the perfect way to capture that era that truly changed the course of cell phones.
what I like
- dew: All tools you need are included. Makes a neat presentation.
- Alex: A very interesting project that can be done in an afternoon or spread out over time.
- They’ve also added some DIY versions where you can bring your own.
What I would like to change
- dew: The missing dummy battery was a bit mysterious. The glue does not dry immediately so be patient!
- Alex: I would really like to see more devices supported for DIY kits. I’m thinking of old iPods, Zune, Game Gear…
dew: Xreart Framed iPhone sets make a great gift for the DIY person in your life. It was fun to unpack and show off.
Alex: Also a great gift for yourself, if You are She is the tool person in your life.
price: $169 (iPhone 4S), $349 (iPhone 2G) | $139 for Tool Kit versions where you supply your own device.
Where do I buy?: Xreart (iPhone 4S) | Xreart (iPhone 2G) | Xreart Toolkits (Framework, Layout, and Tools)
sourceSamples of this product were provided by Xreart.
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