It's going to be at least a few more weeks before we can buy a 3G iPhone, which reportedly will have some sort of black treatment to the rear panel. In the mean time I took it upon myself to create my own.
1. Source the part I picked up a standard issue alluminum rear panel from iFixIt but they're currently out of stock. If you Google for iPhone Rear Panel you can find them. We Love Macs is currently selling the aluminum part for US$69 and the black for US$39 (go figure). Apparently, neither includes the shiny chrome Apple logo, though. You may want to check on that.
I got mine before the black part was available, so I sent the factory aluminum rear panel to the folks at Alumamax and had them anodize it black for me. These guys anodize just about anything with spectacular results. It isn't cheap, but if you are concerned about price, don't anodize your stuff.
Anodizing these little puppies isn't trivial. All the steel or alloy parts have to be removed or masked off. They use a solvent to remove a steel tab that is glued to the aluminum because steel doesn’t survive the sulfuric acid in the anodizing bath. They usually use acetone but it doesn’t like the volume/silent buttons and barely soften the glue. Apple seems to have a liking for unique adhesives lately. Fun stuff.
2. Install the part This part isn't for the faint of heart. If you can swap a MacBook Pro hard drive in less than 20 minutes (open and close), you may be able to do it. iFixIt has posted the iPhone take apart instructions but I'll warn you, experience in surgery would help. You'll also need a killer set of tools (including two "spudgers" which iFixIt sells) and nerves of steel. If you're hands shake at all or you're not comfortable almost breaking your iPhone to open it, wait until June.
3. Etch the part (optional) For that extra touch I etched my rear panel with some artwork. I recommend Etch-A-Mac (623-850-8000), their portfolio of etched Macs speaks for itself. They'll also etch your serial number and IMEI on the back. You should also etch some contact info that's not you mobile number (duh!). Prices vary, so contact them, but again if you're price conscious you may want to take a pass. Props to Shaul Zofef for coming up with the killer "dead guy bolt" design for mine.
Bingo, black iPhone.
|Image Gallery: Create your own black iPhone.|