All Things Tarun

  • 12:46:51 am on November 13, 2010 | 2
    Tags: , , , , , ,

    My custom iPhone 4 backing from the Cellular Nationwide Network finally arrived after I had ordered it in mid October. As a gift, the CNN (for lack of a better term), did enclose a nice set of “super anti-glare” screen protectors, though!

    The install itself was quite an ordeal. The iPhone glass pops off easily, and the same glass will pop back on no problem. The problem lies in the Chinese crafting of the backing itself. On the iPhone glass backing, there is a set of about 8 grooves that snugly allow their appropriate metal pieces to slide into, allowing for a secure fit on the device. The CNN back did include 8 grooves, but they were not neatly cut out, so the backing would not pop back into place. In fact, I found myself trying to shove the backing on. Even then, the camera still wasn’t quite showing through the custom cut out area.

    Frustrated, I took a pair of scissors and cut one of the grooves off, thinking that maybe that one was the culprit. Again, it seemed every groove would not allow the metal pieces in the phone to slide in. As a result, the phone would sit in the “ready to remove the back” position but not slide down into place.

    So, I used a bit of ingenuity — the .04mm screwdriver head was metal and the plastic grooves on the CNN case were malleable enough to be chiseled out. I slowly picked away at every groove, making sure there was a proper place for the metal plating to slide into each spot. Finally after about 10 minutes of chiseling, the backing slided neatly into its place. As it turns out, the standard iPhone glass backing (retailing at about $110 as an OEM part) has a metal set of screw “washers” at the end, while the one shipped by CNN has plastic ends. I noticed this while placing the final screws in, and find that to be a little cheap. But, it is what you can expect for a $20 replacement backing for the phone.

    But what I didn’t expect is the quality of the back itself — It looks like it came straight out of Cupertino. The brushed metal is slightly darker than the sides, but not enough for one to get upset with. The black lettering and black cushion between the band and the new backing really go well with the front, black glass.

    When holding it in your hand, you can feel the metal very firmly, and it allows a better grip than the glass. It would be still easy to slip the phone out of your hands if you were clumsy, but it seems easier to let go of a case or bumper with this backing on. Speaking of the bumper, it looks ugly with the raised bevel version I purchased. I’d recommend going with the flat, brushed metal one instead if you’d like to use the bumper. The raised metal version that I have seems to give it more of a candy bar, natural hold. I’d recommend it if you can let go of your $30 purchase from Apple.

    The big question is reception, and this is something I have to test out for a while. I foresee there being no extra issues than the ones that already exist (with the gripping). The bumper did seem to help with this issue, but the help wasn’t so great. I’ll try Jobs’ prescription: “Don’t hold it that way.”

    A word on warranty: Yes this probably voids it. So obviously keep your old backing in a safe place when you need to make a warranty claim. Then, you just swap it out when the time comes!

    (If you’d like to see pictures, just google for “custom iPhone 4 metal back” and see all the news coverage on it. If you don’t know what grooves I’m talking about, use a screw driver to take off the back and see for yourself! It takes literally 20 seconds if you have the hardware.)

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