You don’t have many options if you’re on the search for an inexpensive smartphone running iOS. Apple’s limited selection features some of the most expensive phones on the market, and if rumors are true, they may even top the $1,000 mark next time around.
As everyone knows, the best way to save money is by doing things yourself. That’s the solution Scott Allen, a traveler from the U.S., settled on in China.
“I’ve been fascinated by the cell phone parts markets in Shenzhen, China, for a while,” Allen said. “So when someone mentioned they wondered if you could build a working smartphone from parts in the markets, I jumped at the chance to really dive in and understand how everything works.”
If you’ve ever visited a major city in China, you’ve probably seen their incredible tech markets. You can find just about any component for any device being sold by hundreds of individual vendors who rent out small spaces in cramped, often low-lit, multi-story buildings. (I demoed an $1,800 pair of headphones in Hong Kong in a space best described as “dingy.”)
Allen needed to find four main parts to create a DIY iPhone: the back cover, screen, battery, and logic board (Apple’s way of saying motherboard). He shows his process of discovering these components and putting them all together in a 24-minute long YouTube video that has already piled up more than a million views.
He estimates it took a couple of months and more than $1,000 to build, after factoring in the expensive tools. In the end, he was able to create a practically off-the-line iPhone 6s containing just $300 of recycled material. Best of all, he can say he built it with his owns hands, instead of the alternative.