The White iPhone 4 Experiment (That Wasn't)

When word hit the Internet a few weeks back that white iPhone 4 conversion kits were for sale by a New York teen who may or may not have some connections to Apple’s manufacturing plant in China, we were intrigued. After all, a certain editor was mighty upset at the lack of white iPhone 4 units, and was very interested in the possibilities for do-it-yourself options

Well, a lot can happen in the time it takes to place an order for an iPhone 4 conversion kit, and for it to arrive from Shenzhen. For starters, Fei Lam, the Queens, New York teen who sold the kits, abruptly took down his site just days ago with no explanation. He could not be reached for comment. Apple's legal department had been giving him the evil eye almost as soon as stories of his little side business hit the Internet, after all.

Next, word came from on high (i.e. Apple) that the white iPhone will finally arrive in Spring 2011.

Combine this upcoming availability with the lack of clear instructions on how to do it (when Lam’s site went down, so did his collection of thorough instructional PDFs), and the fact that the conversion is such a daunting and risky conversion (would YOU sacrifice your $599 phone in such a risky maneuver?) that we felt in the end, it was not worth the effort.

We don’t want you to think the Tom’s family shrinks from a challenge easily. This is a site born in the world of overclockers, after all. But there's also something to be said for knowing your limits and weighing risk vs. reward. That's the warning Tom’s Hardware gives to everyone new to system modification, after all.

Was it worth it to risk a functioning iPhone 4, which would cost three times as much to replace as it did to purchase, when the supplier had vanished and legitimate supply was on its way? In the end, we thought not.

Here are images of the kit we received from Lam, as well as the receipt, which shows that the components shipped directly from Shenzhen, China. What would you do with this kit? We wish a hearty "cheers" to any journalist willing to put his own phone under the knife for the sake of his audience.

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23 comments
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  • you put enough ads on this site to buy 1000 iphone 4s but you are unwilling to sacrifice one. bestofmedia epic fail!
    13
  • I gotta say this seems a bit weak from a tech site as big as Tom's.
    I remember experiments a few years ago where mobos and CPUs were stressed with no cooler to see what happened, frying many components but providing us valuable knowledge and respect for the site.
    You can surely afford the unlikely loss of 1 iPhone.
    13
  • Other Comments
  • Back to the white iphone conversion...

    First it seems that most people put covers of some type on their phones anyway, so not much of the black part of the phone even shows anyway.

    Second, there are full size stickers available for laptops in many different colors and designs. It seems that someone could just put on a white stickie on the small amount of the phone that you can see past the cover.
    -1
  • maloneyAt first I thought this was just someone making fun of this article's New York street-style knockoff sale. How Ironic that it's just another example. I'll bet all of his items are shipping straight from China too.

    You've over-estimated the spam-bots! ;)
    4
  • don't mean to be rude but change colors of ipunked phone.... don't care.
    4
  • I will do it! ha
    -1
  • I gotta say this seems a bit weak from a tech site as big as Tom's.
    I remember experiments a few years ago where mobos and CPUs were stressed with no cooler to see what happened, frying many components but providing us valuable knowledge and respect for the site.
    You can surely afford the unlikely loss of 1 iPhone.
    13
  • you put enough ads on this site to buy 1000 iphone 4s but you are unwilling to sacrifice one. bestofmedia epic fail!
    13
  • Doorspawn, there's more to it than sacrificing a phone. With the legitimate phone coming and the disappearance of the person selling it, us doing the experiment would basically be a tacit endorsement of such modification. At this point, that didn't seem judicious.
    -4
  • I have the complete white conversion kit too, and looking at your photos, my kit is also from the same source, although I purchased my full kit from iphonefixed.co.uk in Wales.

    The white headphone jack, and white dock connector, along with white front and back glass have been sat here for a few weeks now as I have read reports of some of these parts being ill fitting, so I have put off the conversion until i try the kit on a donor frame. I also have a water damaged iPhone 4 coming end of the month which I will try and fix, and will fit this kit to that most likely.

    @Tom, you could send me your kit if you like, and I could document the conversion?
    0
  • Can you get a white conversion for the display too? *excited shreek*
    1
  • gaborbarlaCan you get a white conversion for the display too? *excited shreek*

    Site took out my "Sarcasm" tags.
    2
  • ...kinda sounds like someone is fearing the wrath of the Big, Bad Steve.
    1
  • This is very sad...

    Reminded me why I stopped reading Tom's Hardware...back to Gizmodo
    3
  • LOL @Tom's buying and ordering the kit but forgetting to download the pdf documentation in advance on how to install the kit before actually receiving the product. Classic case of RTFM.
    3
  • doorspawnI gotta say this seems a bit weak from a tech site as big as Tom's.I remember experiments a few years ago where mobos and CPUs were stressed with no cooler to see what happened, frying many components but providing us valuable knowledge and respect for the site.You can surely afford the unlikely loss of 1 iPhone.

    The videos of running AMD and Intel processors without the heatsinks was pretty cool. The Intel chip throttled, and functioned as soon as the heatsink was back on, and the AMD chip started to smoke.
    To back away form a simple challenge though?
    :(
    1
  • Travis BeaneThe videos of running AMD and Intel processors without the heatsinks was pretty cool. The Intel chip throttled, and functioned as soon as the heatsink was back on, and the AMD chip started to smoke.To back away form a simple challenge though?
    From what I remember, the Athlon tested without a heatsink exploded. :) Making a hole on the motherboard/table. I just don't remember if it was Tom's..
    0
  • Why dont you go and buy some handbags or glasses from a rip-off chinese factory instead, seeming how much you all love these spam adverts in the comments section!
    -1
  • Either do the conversion and write the article or don't write the article at all, Toms is getting soft if they are not willing to destroy an i-phone to test a meaningless modificaiton. You were the type of site that would put an i-phone4 under water just to see if it would work in water and if it could be brought back to life if it didn't. Now it is just add ridden so I have to use my gaming computer to even view because my laptop cannot load the adds for a sight that features simple text pictures and the occational video. (sorry but I had to vent)
    3
  • I'm having trouble telling the SPAM bots from the articles on THG these days... Oh no - I do see - the SPAM has more useful information...
    2
  • I did The conversion of my black to white iPhone, and everything came out just right!, it took 2 hours to disassemble and assemble it but it came out perfect!, and I am extremely happy with my new white iPhone!, a month after the conversion my iPhone felt from my lap and my front glass cracked from one side to the other, and I just ordered another front part and I will replace it, and believe me it's not easy but with patient anyone could achieve it.
    0
  • "With the legitimate phone coming and the disappearance of the person selling it, us doing the experiment would basically be a tacit endorsement of such modification. At this point, that didn't seem judicious."

    Apparently, faster CPUs were available shortly after you overclocked CPUs. Was doing that experiment thus non-judicious, and why the tacit approval of such modifications then, but not with an iPhone 4? I'm not sure if you're afraid of breaking your precious 'phone more than Apple, or the other way around. But it's clearly one or the other, and neither are exactly impressive credentials for an independent tech site.
    0