Putting an iPhone together from spare parts sounds like a daunting project. And according to Scotty Allen, a former software engineer who did just that, the hard part is finding the parts, not putting them together.
As Allen notes in a blog post describing the project, the phone is likely built out of recycled parts from older devices that have been disassembled in Shenzhen. The video documents Allen’s traversal of back alleys to find phone shells, finding a shop to put together a screen assembly from the dispute components, and his efforts to source a working logic board. Allen dives deeper into the process on his site, which is well worth a read if you’re interested in finding out more on how the phone came together.
I was able to talk with Allen over email to talk to him a bit about why he chose to pursue the project. “I wanted to see if it was actually possible,” Allen says, “and I wanted to better understand how the markets work and what happens in them.” Building the iPhone served as a way do that. Allen says that the entire build was inspired when he was hanging out with some hardware geeks in Shenzen when someone wondered if it would even be possible to put together a phone from the markets.
But what might be most impressive is how simple the build was in the end. While Allen went into the project knowing very little about the scope “I was pretty lost at first – I didn’t really know what parts I needed, or where to get them, or what order I should buy them in so I could test things as I went,” — once he manages to find the parts, the final build looks almost effortless.
In total, Allen estimates that he spent around $1,000 on the project, although a lot of that went into duplicate parts and extra tools. He pegs the finished phone itself at around $300, which is certainly a good price for an iPhone 6s — assuming you’re willing to put it together yourself, that is.