Engineer builds iPhone 6s using spare parts bought from Chinese markets

midian182

Posts: 6,091   +50
Staff member

Apple’s iPhones have a reputation for being pricey pieces of kit. With the iPhone 8 expected to cost around $1000, they can be a heavy investment for most people. So why not make one yourself? That’s what software engineer Scotty Allen decided to do, and the result was surprising.

The former Silicon Valley worker was in China when one of his friends asked if it was possible to build a complete smartphone from all the parts on sale in the markets. After nine months of traveling to and from the country, he decided to take up the challenge.

Allen chose to build an iPhone 6s because he already owns one of the handsets and wanted to use it for reference, though in the end he never needed to open it up. But the main reason he avoided making an iPhone 7 was due to the scarcity of parts on sale.

The engineer visited the markets of Shenzen to source his components. He explains in the 24-minute video that the four pieces he requires are the shell, the screen, the battery, and the logic board. But not all the parts were easy to come by.

“I keep asking people about this, and people keep saying things like “there should be more after Spring Festival” (which has come and gone) or “there should be more in a month or two"”

In the end, Allen spent “well over” $1000 on his project, but points out that a lot of this money was on tools and components he never ended up using. The final cost of the phone itself was around $300 and it looks almost indistinguishable from one bought in an Apple store.

Make sure to check out the video above, and you can read more details in Allen’s blog.

Permalink to story.

 
D

davislane1

"In the end, Allen spent “well over” $1000 on his project, but points out that a lot of this money was on tools and components he never ended up using. The final cost of the phone itself was around $300 and it looks almost indistinguishable from one bought in an Apple store."

And how many hours did it take him to source the parts and assemble the final product? Materials cost != Materials + labor.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,500   +6,002
No real surprise there. China has an open market for spare parts and, if you can get a good interpretive engine that can handle the tech side, they sell instruction sheets telling you how to build these devices. You know, this has been going on with a number of Asian countries since the 2nd World War with Japan being the most written about. Like many things, it's only "news" when it's re-announced to the most recent generation that may never have heard the stories from their Grandpa .....
 
  • Like
Reactions: Reehahs

p51d007

Posts: 2,521   +1,810
The "typical" cost to build a flagship phone per se, is between 250-350 dollars.
But, consumers apparently are willing to pay close to, if not over $1000.00 for them.
Every consumer electronics device, USUALLY comes down in price, and up in features/quality.
Flat screen tv's were over 1,000.00 just a few years ago, DVD players, PC's, laptops were all
very expensive, have come down in price, and up in performance. How have the smartphone
manufacturers been able to buck the trend? Dumb consumers or slick marketing, or both?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Odium

psycros

Posts: 3,206   +3,405
The "typical" cost to build a flagship phone per se, is between 250-350 dollars.
But, consumers apparently are willing to pay close to, if not over $1000.00 for them.
Every consumer electronics device, USUALLY comes down in price, and up in features/quality.
Flat screen tv's were over 1,000.00 just a few years ago, DVD players, PC's, laptops were all
very expensive, have come down in price, and up in performance. How have the smartphone
manufacturers been able to buck the trend? Dumb consumers or slick marketing, or both?
Both plus forced obsolescence.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Reehahs

petert

Posts: 365   +166
I wonder if I could pull the same trick to build a custom Android tablet - you know something along the lines:
- 7 or 8 inch screen
- Android Nougat (I am a sucker for the split screen feature)
- stylus would be nice

Maybe buy a 7 inch screen like the one from the old nexus 7 and couple it with a battery and motherboard from a much recent smartphone generation to get support for Nougat. On top of that, a 3D printed case to nicely assemble everything together.

For some reasons, this segment is neglected - many IT websites for example say that nvidia shield k1 is still the best android tablet around there (especially since it has received the update to nougat) - but I find it awkward since it is bulky and battery life is short. No wonders ipad tablets are thriving.
 

Kenrick

Posts: 631   +401
Edit: Sorry

Those components are modular and is easy like a puzzle if you can find the components.If hes up to the cost, people would rather do something productive and earn from it and from that earning will buy a finished, quality tested phone with warranty. Time is gold bro.
 
Last edited:

amstech

Posts: 2,643   +1,804
This guy should build a trimmer and razor and use the spare time to pop up that pimple near his eye from his profits with this DIY nonsense youtube clip. Those components are modular and is easy like a puzzle if you can find the components.If hes up to the cost, people would rather do something productive and earn from it and from that earning will buy a finished, quality tested phone with warranty. Time is gold bro.
Did someone let you out of timeout?
 

That Dude There

Posts: 172   +41
This guy should build a trimmer and razor and use the spare time to pop up that pimple near his eye from his profits with this DIY nonsense youtube clip. Those components are modular and is easy like a puzzle if you can find the components.If hes up to the cost, people would rather do something productive and earn from it and from that earning will buy a finished, quality tested phone with warranty. Time is gold bro.
You miss the point. I think the point is to show how overpriced the phones are. If he can buy the parts at full price for $300, then how cheap can Apple/Samsung make them? I bet $100 max including slave labor, or possibly less.
 

Kenrick

Posts: 631   +401
This guy should build a trimmer and razor and use the spare time to pop up that pimple near his eye from his profits with this DIY nonsense youtube clip. Those components are modular and is easy like a puzzle if you can find the components.If hes up to the cost, people would rather do something productive and earn from it and from that earning will buy a finished, quality tested phone with warranty. Time is gold bro.
Did someone let you out of timeout?
Haha. You got me there. Im gonna edit what I said and apologize to those offended. I'm just tired of this build this thing for less. People need to understand that development cost - software, hardware,qa and support - this is what we are paying. Take a look at synology. People are saying I could build a freenas for less over and over in forums. Most people would rather pay more for a polished product out of the box and rather use the spare time for leisure or other productive work. But still this is a good video that can get you a hundred thousand clicks and earn money.
 

ikesmasher

Posts: 3,067   +1,389
I wonder if I could pull the same trick to build a custom Android tablet - you know something along the lines:
- 7 or 8 inch screen
- Android Nougat (I am a sucker for the split screen feature)
- stylus would be nice

Maybe buy a 7 inch screen like the one from the old nexus 7 and couple it with a battery and motherboard from a much recent smartphone generation to get support for Nougat. On top of that, a 3D printed case to nicely assemble everything together.

For some reasons, this segment is neglected - many IT websites for example say that nvidia shield k1 is still the best android tablet around there (especially since it has received the update to nougat) - but I find it awkward since it is bulky and battery life is short. No wonders ipad tablets are thriving.
driver support and compatibilty between android verisons and apps would be a nightmare to DIY. but if someone started relases parts with the software infastructure already there that would be amazing.