Saturday, March 28, 2009

Improving stuck volume buttons for iPhone

Warning: This excercise is to reduce the sesitivity of stuck volume buttons on iPhone. Opening iPhone voids any warranty, so use at your own risk. These instructions are provided as-is.

I was unfortunate enough to drop my iPhone 1G on the decrease volume switch and if anything approached it, the volume would fall to the bottom and stay there as if someone had a finger on it. This interferes with any usage and really gets to you.

Even though the iPhone was under contract, since it was an accident Apple's official response was 'Sorry. Buy a new phone'. Since the warranty did not mean anything, the decision was taken to open and try to fix it.

Dismantling the iPhone is a well documented process with videos on YouTube. Only thing worth mentioning here is that I have not used the 'PDA Case Opener' - all you need is something thin and strong enough to remove the back case from its locks. A cheap blade from Lowes did it for me.

The volume buttons are housed on the back plate along with the gyroscope?, mute button, headphone socket and power-off button. It quickly became apparent why Apple was reluctant to fix it - all the above are a single connected package, so you replace them all if any one went bad. 

So lets get started. There are three screws to remove to get the volume switch internal plate out. To remove the screw towards the top of the phone, you would need to remove the gyroscope also, which exposes the third screw for removal.

This exposes the actual contacts of the switches. The contacts themselves are like depressable surfaces. It turns out that due to the accidental fall, my down volume contact is stuck in or very close to stuck in the depressed position. Since the contact point is so precise and sealed, there is no way to correct it to be depressable again. The only thing left is to try to disassociate the exterior down volume black switch from the contact point, so that the pesky volume indicator does not show up

Fix 1: Take razor and shave off the head attached to black button. 
This will lessen the sensitivity of any exterior contact on the switch.

Fix 2: Do not put in supporting screw
When putting things back, do not put in the screw corresponding to the black button. This will remove the support it has and de-sensitize it even more.

Thats it. Once the iPhone has been put back, the volume does not get changed even if I run my finger over the volume buttons, or even tap on the broken button. Much much better than before when the volume would always change to the point of being unusuable.

Hope that helps. Please share your experience or workarounds.


  1. My workaround is to lock the screen, then unlock, move the volume up. But it can never go down... so I don't have to open my case unless I want to fix the "volume down" button, which is not needed atm.

  2. You are lucky with the volume not going down. Ive had a bad case of this where even the slightest touch would press the down volume to infinity. Only fix was like you said to sleep and come back - but even then 90% of times the low volume button was still pressed. :(

  3. i'm having this exact problem. it's making me insane!

    a couple questions: what did you use the thumbtack for, getting the sim card out?

    where did you get the tiny screwdriver? i have a glasses screwdriver but it looks bigger than the one you were using and those screws looked awfully tiny.

    this gyroscope that you have to remove: was it hard to replace? were any of the screws hard to replace?

    and instead of just shaving that little dot off the rubber, could the whole rubber piece just be left out?

    my issue is that somehow (i don't remember having dropped my phone) the button is cracked at the center and so both sides are being held down. grazing the button at all either sends the volume way up or all the way down so i think both buttons are compressed. ICK.

    e-mail me at: jasminemoy at gmail or respond here in the comments if you have time. thanks!

  4. Yes, thumbtack for SIM card. Thin paperclip would do.

    Tiny screwdrivers should be available in most toolkits - if not Im sure SEARS would sell you a small set for under $5.

    I dont know if its the gyroscope (someone mentioned accelerometer?), but its just screws and steady hands... nothing one cant put back - just patience.

    I left the black down button in to prevent dirt from entering the unit - a hole as big as it would be terrible for internals and beauty.

    Ouch, you seem to have the worst case of this problem... both buttons at random stuck. I thought of completely disconnecting the switches by clipping the wires, but I was not sure if that would have other electronic side effects with the circuit, so I took the path of least destruction to solve my problem... For your case I would suggest doing what I did for both buttons.

    The thing with what I did is that its completely revertible - you can glue back the shaved head, put in the screw back and you are back to original.

    Let me know how it goes.

  5. The toughest part is taking the back metal lid off - its more an art than force, and Ive dinged portions of that lid trying to be forceful. The trick is to slide the blade in and tilt it towards screen so it levers the back panel millimeter by millimeter off. Having backup help would be a good thing just to verify if youve never done this before.

    I tried just removing the screw, but the protrusion was still hitting the switch when i assembled it all back again. Only both gave the best results. Now I am able to hold my iPhone as I used to without fear of having the volume go ape.

  6. got a question, im having the opposite problem my down button works fine but the up button wont work ive taken it apart and even pressed the dimple in but nothing and im stuck in a low volume on my earpiece

  7. I just tried putting on a strip of tape across the buttons (outside the case). It seems to work, even if you may have to replace the tape at some intervals.

    So perhaps the function is electrostatic, and the tape disconnects all connections.
    You can try it without any hazard, as you can just remove the tape if it does not work to your satisfaction.

    Otherwise, thanks for the instruction above, I may go that route eventually.

    Ole Petersen, Denmark

  8. For the non-working up button, I would test the button when taken apart to see if it really works or not. If its just a contact problem maybe you can glue in a patch of plastic to increase sensitivity.

    The electrostatic tape is very interesting, but it makes me wonder why they had the physical press-toggle switch in the first place. A piece of insulating electrical tape should do the trick.. If it works Im all ears - please do let us know.

  9. I have now used the phone for a couple of hours with this piece of tape over the outside contacts. It works like a charm so far. You will of course have to live with a standard volume setting, if you do the same.
    Ole - Denmark

  10. If you do the tape solution, you must turn up the volume setting by the software each time the phone has been turned off. Turning off the phone apparently sets the volume to minimum.
    Ole - Denmark

  11. I returned my first i phone for this volume button issue and was sent a new one, since the first was under warranty. I've had this phone a month and it does the exact same thing. The volume controls don't work at all. Now, Apple wont cover the second phone because it picked up the remainder of my first warranty, which had about a week left on it. I'm very disappointed in Apple. One would think, Apple would stand behind it's product enough to issue a new warranty when they replace a product. It's like trading in your old car for a new one and the auto dealer telling you that your new car doesn't come with a warranty because the old car's warranty ran out! This is ridiculous!

  12. Another option (very crude so do so at your own risk) is to use a Stanley knife and cut away a bit at the side bits of the depressed button, without taking the casing off. For me it basically rendered the volume control useless, but in doing so stopped the incessant volume decreasing thing!

  13. I just fixed mine and found a way to return it to full functionality!

    The problem is caused by the dome switch failing to return to the up position. I carefully lifted up the flex circuit for that switch to see if I could manipulate it. While doing that, the dome reset, popping back up to it's normal position. It's working like new now.

    If the problem should reappear, it looks like the entire headphone jack/switch assembly can be purchased for under $20. Now that I know how to get the entire assembly out, I'll replace it if there's a next time.

    Thanks for the writeup.

  14. Thats great Beans Baxter... I did fidget with it to no good - glad it went back to original for you.

    The parts have become much smaller and cheaper these days with the originals becoming cheaper and many more disposable phones.

  15. there is a FINAL solutin for this problem.

    run a search in cydia for a software called "volume keys disabler".

    this will disable both volume keys so thay will not function any more..i instaled it on 2G IPHONE 3.1.2 FW and it's the best ever sulotion for this familiar problem.

    best regards
    ishay perry

  16. I was SO glad I wasn't alone in this problem. Apple reps seemed to have never heard of this issue before. lol

    I'm glad I read through the comments, because I just downloaded the Cydia software "Volume Button Disabler" and it did the trick! I can't up or down that volume by buttons anymore. I can't express how happy-relieved I am at this point. :))

    Thanks so much for the tips folks. I ♥ the internet. :)

  17. wow!volume disabler great idea!

  18. I re-dropped my phone and its all good now. Was having the same issue driving me crazy.

  19. Installed "Volume Key Disabler" from Cydia and damn if it didn't work. It will freeze the volume at whatever's set at the time, so you'll probably want it on maximum before you install.

    Cheers boffins

  20. well guys im facing a problem with my 3g, the volume on/off switch above the volume keys, i've broken the metal thing tht helps to go on n off it still works but its hard to do it all the time, is there a fix to this or where can i purchase one to fix this issue...

  21. The "Volume Button Disabler" app from Cydia did the trick! The volume was randomly going up to the max every once in a while - not a pleasant experience...

    Thanks for blogging and allowing comments with this useful software solution as well!

  22. This may or may not be of use to others..
    My volume control stopped working altogether and it was stuck on an extremely quiet setting. After trying all the sensible options like resets etc with no succes, I discovered (somehow!) that pressing and holding the little ear speaker simultaneously caused the volume control to work again. Now it only works when I press the speaker, but hey - it works!!

  23. Try to push the buttons for a long time... I was just playing with the volume buttons.. ( when they were stuck ) and after.. The volume buttons has been functional.