I’m such a heavy user of my Apple iPhones that it really seems like about a year after I get one, I’m doing a how-to article on replacing the iPhone’s battery. I now have an iPhone 4S and this past weekend, I replaced the battery. Other smartphone users may scoff at the fact that Apple has made their hardware quite proprietary (e.g., a closed design). Actually, it seems to me that Apple has actually now made it much easier to replace the iPhone 4S battery, especially in comparison to the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS process. This article (and video) shows you how to replace an Apple iPhone 4S Battery.
WARNING: Before I go into this How-to, I do need to emphasize that this processes is risky. For starters, it WILL void your warranty, especially if you mess something up in the process. Also, there are lots and lots of tiny screws and pieces that are incredibly easy to lose, break or knock loose. If you don’t take time reviewing the installation process, you could seriously damage to your iPhone 4S. You should only undertake this process if you feel like you know what you are doing and promise to not hold me responsible for anything bad that may happen to your device. Anything good that does happen, I’m happy to be responsible for that! And don’t drink any coffee before trying any repairs!
With all the disclaimers aside now, let’s take a look at the process. It is, actually, quite easy but be sure to watch the video below as I did actually almost screw something up. But as of this writing, my iPhone 4S is quite happy with its replacement battery.
Before I get started, I first have to once again thank the kind folks at iFixit.com who supplied me with the replacement battery for the iPhone 4S. Also, without their helpful installation guide, I probably would not have attempted this replacement process. Oh, and don’t try to get one of those super cheap replacement batteries. These batteries have firmware and if you have an “incompatible” battery, your iPhone may have issues. Buy your battery from a reputable source (like iFixit.com).
Here’s what I used for my installation process:
- iFixit.com iPhone 4S battery installation guide – print this out!
- iFixit.com replacement battery – get a battery from a reputable seller.
- Soft towel – helps pad your iPhone during the process and keep track of parts that fall or pop out.
- #00 Phillips screwdriver – helps to have one with a magnetic head.
- (If needed) Pentalope screwdriver – iFixit sells a kit called the Liberation kit (only if you don’t have Phillips head screws holding the case together).
- Spudger – I recommend a metal one but if you have a hard plastic one, it might work ok.
- Tweezers – the screws are very tiny so be sure you have a good set of tweezers.
- Needlenose pliers – also very helpful in picking up small screws or grabbing other parts.
- Egg carton – this is my own invention. Number each compartment and label on the instructions which screws are in which compartment.
The replacement battery isn’t that expensive, usually around $30. The other tools are pretty inexpensive as well and worth getting for other repairs.
The Battery Removal and Install
As I mentioned, the process for removing and installing an iPhone 4S battery is relatively easy, especially compared to earlier versions of the iPhone. I think that the great folks at the Apple Genius bars may have complained about how hard earlier versions were. Now, the battery replacement process is very straight forward. In fact, there are a total of 4 screws (only) that you have to remove.
I recommend reading through these steps as well as watching my video below. The video is a bit long, simply because I received some comments on previous install videos that said I didn’t show the complete process. So, the video below represents my install procedure, with limited edits (only a few to keep it somewhat short). And do note, at one point, a part does pop off unexpectedly (something that probably WILL happen with you). It’s the battery grounding clip that is anchored by one of the screws that you remove. So be sure to watch the video to know how to put it back in properly. You could damage your iPhone if you don’t put it back or install it improperly.
The How To video below is also available directly on my YouTube channel:
I also recommend that you print out the iFixit guide and have it handy on a computer screen so that you can zoom in on the pictures. Here are the high-level steps.
Step 1 – Back up your iPhone
Seriously. Do this before you do anything else! ‘Nuf said.
Step 2 – Power down your iPhone
If you don’t do this step, you may have a “shocking” experience or cause some damage.
Step 3 – Remove the rear panel screws
Your iPhone 4S may or may not have pentalobe screws. If it does, use the special pentalobe screwdriver. If you have Phillips head screws, lucky you! You can use a standard #00 Phillips head screwdriver. Unscrew those two screws and save them in your appropriately labeled egg carton compartment.
Step 4 – Slide the rear panel up slightly & remove
Flip your iPhone over and slide the back up. It should move 1-2 mm. You simply press down and slide up toward the top of the iPhone. Once it slides up, you can remove the back panel and set it aside.
Step 5 – Remove 2 Phillips screws
Next you need to remove two different sized Phillips screws. Note, these screws are not the same size. First remove the longer one (1.7 mm) towards the bottom of the iPhone. Store that in the 2nd egg carton compartment. Then remove the shorter (1.5 mm) screw. BE CAREFUL with this step as there is the small, black grounding clip that is attached to it. (Mine popped off in the install process.) Store this smaller screw in the 3rd egg carton compartment.
Step 6 – Pop out the pressure contact
Using the plastic or metal spudger (removal tool), carefully pry up the pressure contact. (Again, watch for that little black grounding clip!)
Step 7 – Pry out the old battery
This next step does take a little bit of effort. The batteries are anchored to the iPhone body via some very strong adhesive. You can either use the plastic removal tool (which I managed to break in my video) or a metal spudger, to CAREFULLY pry up the battery from both sides. You will hear some popping as the adhesive lets go. Once it has been loosened, you can use the little plastic tab to pop the battery out.
Step 8 – Install the replacement battery
Once you get the battery out (and be sure to recycle it – save the environment), you can put in the replacement battery. Simply put it back into the space and press down to re-adhere it to the base. (I always like how the iFixit guide stops at this point – they just say “To reassemble your device, follow these instructions in reverse order.”) That being said, you can do this all in reverse. BUT, if you popped out the black grounding clip, read on.
Step 9 – (Optional) Put back the grounding clip properly
If you were lucky like me, you probably dislodged the black grounding clip as you were trying to screw in some of the screws into the pressure contact. Watch the video above to see how to put it back in properly.
Step 10 – Put the back case back on & power up your iPhone
Slide the back case back on by pressing and sliding down. Then put the remaining screws into the bottom of the iPhone 4S. Cross your fingers and press the power button. If all has gone according to plan, your iPhone will power up! Just be sure to fully charge your new battery and enjoy the (hopefully) longer battery life!
Special thanks to my daughter for taking the great photos as I went through the process and to iFixit for the parts and great guides!
Disclosure Text : I have a material connection because I received a gift or sample of a product for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was/am not expected to return this item or gift after my review period. All opinions within this article are my own. More information can be found in my About page as well as here.
HTD says: See? Installing a replacement iPhone 4S battery isn’t that hard!