Got a dud iPhone 4 or 4S home button? You can fix it yourself EASILY!

Isn’t this supposed to be the blog of a photographer?  Well, I’m straying off topic a bit but gadgets are dear to the hearts of many snappers out there so knowing how to fix something on the fly is a handy trick to have in your bag!

Whist I’m a convert to Android both my daughters have iPhones – one has my old iPhone 4 and the other a new iPhone 4S.  The old iPhone 4 (bought on launch day in Australia) has developed a very unresponsive home button which in turn has produced a quite unhappy daughter.  So…. Dad to the rescue!

After trawling the web for a few hours researching ways to fix the problem I have finally found what I am 99.999999% sure is the answer to most everyone’s problems.  Over time, oil and grime from your finger makes its way through the tiny gap between the body of your beloved iPhone and the home button causing a build-up on the contact under the button.  This in turn makes the button unresponsive to presses and you have to mash it just to get it to respond.

So…. how do I fix it you ask?














  1. Get some rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol).  I actually used an Aussie product called Isocol which worked like a charm.  Little sachets containing a moist isopropyl alcohol soaked towel are also good.  Aim for a 70% isopropyl alcohol if you can although straying either way a bit probably won’t hurt.
  2. Turn your phone completely off.
  3. Put a drop of the solution on your finger (if you use the moist towel you will have to squeeze a drop on your finger) and rub it quite firmly around the home button, making sure to press the button in and out as you go.  You aim is to let the liquid seep into the gap and down to the contact under the button.  The solution will clean the contact.  I repeated it three times to really get it in there.  Remember, unlike water, this solution will evaporate very quickly and not damage your phone.  It is commonly used by electrical technicians to clean circuit boards etc.
  4. Turn your phone over after working in each drop well and tap the phone reasonably firmly on a padded surface.  Something like a folded tea-towel on your benchtop will be just right (that’s what I did).  I found that a little bit of gunk actually came out on the gap between to button and the phone.
  5. Give your phone a good wipe clean and fire it up.
  6. Test it out.
  7. See?  Perfecto eh?
Now, what I have to point out is that there is probably some chance that you could destroy your phone.  I reckon the chance is so minute that only a real chicken wouldn’t be game to try it.  Anyway, if anything goes wrong don’t blame me.  I’m just telling you that it has worked faultlessly for me and from my research, a LOT of other people have had the same success and I haven’t read of a single problem.
Please let me know how you go, I’d love to know that I’ve helped someone fix their phone (or their pestering daughter’s!) :-)

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  1. #1 by Danny Tucker at April 17th, 2012

    Hey Cam,

    Thanks +++ for the tip. I’ve been using the stupid iPhone assistive touch to give me a floating ‘soft’ button on the screen. I squeezed in some alco-wipe 70% alcohol and did what you said. Bam! Works again. Now the wait for the iPhone 5 won’t seem so painful!

    PS. Don’t know if you got your hands on one yet, but the 5D3 is sweet. I’ve posted some high ISO examples:

  2. #2 by Cameron at April 17th, 2012

    Danny, happy to see it worked for you!!! I’ve been trying to get a couple of 5DMkIII’s and a couple of the 600EX flashes but very hard to source them!

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