29 October 2007, 23:44 by mark hoekstra

paint it black: the iPhone

...I see an iPhone and I want to…

Well, we all know the subject of this project… the iPhone a.k.a. the Jesus Phone and/or the best invention since sliced bread, as some people believe…

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But first, a long story short. How did I end up with one? Well, my friend Boris from Amsterdam went to SF about a month ago to pick up not one but fifteen(!) iPhones for himself and some friends. I wasn’t on the list but I didn’t want one either at that time. But then, only a week after he and his iPhones arrived back in Holland, he dropped his own and soon after a deal was struck between Boris, Bright and me to get me that specific iPhone and so a couple of days later the postman arrived at my door with a package…

this iPhone is featured in upcoming Bright no.19, available on newsstands from november 30th on in Holland

I used it as an iPhone for about two weeks, also to see what all the fuzz was about, before I would do anything to it. I tried Carglass, to see if they could repair the glass but I ended up showing my iPhone to everyone and they showed me what they were able to repair, but that wasn’t the glass of my iPhone…

So… In those two weeks I used it merely as an iPod which accidentally can take a call (I hardly get called and I like to keep it that way) and because of that, I also started using this old iPod sock around it. Because of this sock around it, I also started to like the more anonymous character of the device instead of flashing this iPhone around (it’s not available in this country yet). Only people who watch very carefully can spot the different headset (but there are ways to fool that ^_^) and that’s about it.

So, in short, I started to dislike the bling and the attention this phone got. I mean, a conversation starter it is, but not with people I’d like to talk to (in general! don’t feel offended). *^_^*

Next to that, all the hacking done on this phone is software-only, from the outside, all these phones (1.4 million and counting) are the same. Somehow, just like almost all my other gear, I want it to be different. Not necessarily prettier, just different, because it’s mine. So like it or loathe it, this was the general idea: paint it black

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the actual project

Well, it took me almost a weekend to get it open… Luckily the guys from iFixit already have some good installation instructions on their site, but even with that, this phone is one hard phone to open! Now in the end, mine wouldn’t open like it should probably because it already fell one time before I got it and that’s also why it took me close to a weekend to open it up completely. (the rear panel wouldn’t come off, whatever I tried).

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Since Carglass couldn’t fix the glass, I started to think about other possibilities (other than ordering a new display, I mean, what fun is that?) to get this little crack fixed. I decided I would turn the home button in an old school Apple logo, and the logo would need to come off something. I thought about a Mac SE/30 (next to the visualizers, I also got one defective one) but the logo was too big and somehow it felt like a sin to do such a thing. Then I went through my stuff and found this ‘Apple Extended Keyboard II’ from 1989 and really, I really have got no use for that, so that became the patient to get me an old school Apple logo and some plastic…

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to use sandpaper on small parts, you can put some duct tape around your fingers, works like magic!
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that’s a lot of eighties Cupertino Plastic…
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to get the curves right, I used the iPhone itself as a measure…
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After quite some hours of sanding on this little piece of plastic, I had the part I wanted. Now it was time to prepare the other parts in this journey to paint this phone black.

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...taping it all up for some spray paint.

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...putting it back together…

believe it or not, but for projects like this I grow my thumbnail so I can open up hardware more easily… I cut it afterwards…
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a silent witness…
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the detailing looks good to me, time to put it back together!
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first picture of the end result (with the antenna cover still not attached completely)
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a black phone on a smoke glass table is not a good idea (for a picture)
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And some more shots:

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about the old Apple logo

Well, that old Apple logo on that specific place on such a gadget, that does remind us of something right? With the iPhone not being the Newton II, we can at least make it a little more that way. ^_^

The Newton was a very kind gift btw.

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Now don’t get confused when your phone rings…

direct link to video

...and if you’re eager to find out what’s on the display of my iPhone.. here’s a pic (only the extreme apple fanboys will get that joke, I guess…)

Once again, the end result:

the Apple button is a little loose on that picture by the way…
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And to show you it really is a button:

direct link to video

...and some more pics:

my famous iPod sock and my iPhone…
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What else is there to say? Like I said, like it or loathe it, if it’s the latter, you’re allowed to call it the oNoPhone ^_^

At least I’ve now got a phone which most definately is mine. In the two weeks I used it before this project I never ever got the feeling it was my phone entirely somehow and now I do and that’s what I care about. I wonder why they ever stopped using the slogan ‘Think Different’ cause somehow that’s exactly what I’m (and everyone who owns one of those 250.000 unlocked phones (and counting…)) is doing at the moment, I guess… ^_^

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earlier on this site and (partly) related:
a package from NYC, a Newton MP130!
iNo, because youNo…
iNoPhone. A guided tour.
iNoPhone nada headset
iPhone sock

DIY trackback
BBC NEWS | technology (no joke! here’s a screenshot)


  1. jon @ 30 October 2007, 00:37 :

    I must admit. That looks a whole lot more appealing than the original design. Now i’d quite like to have 1, in that colour.

  2. Ben @ 30 October 2007, 00:41 :

    That is freaking awesome!!!

    I think the old apple logo looks so much better than the boring home button.

    I love how much attention to detail you put in.

    Just one thing, I did not see any detail as to how you actually got the logo to work as a button. Is there a small piece of plastic that passes through the hole in the bit from the keyboard?

  3. markie @ 30 October 2007, 00:57 :

    >Just one thing.

    Oh yeah, I forgot to take pics of that, I put a small piece of metal through the hole in the plastic which acts as some rod which presses the original home button.

    Next to that, another detail I didn’t emphasize on, I took the Apple logo out from the backside and used sandpaper on that as well, I mean a mirror-finish logo on a matte black phone, that would be no good right? ^_^

  4. stefanie @ 30 October 2007, 02:18 :

    wow that’s really a great job!
    the retro logo is so much more appealing than the other one
    now if i could only get my hands on an iphone …. :p
    i like it a lot, i wish i had one _
    a BLACK one that is :p

  5. Danielle @ 30 October 2007, 03:55 :

    you should make those and sell them. I’d pay at least like an extra $80 for that. only problem is getting the logos…hmmm.

  6. Carl Lozano @ 30 October 2007, 04:37 :

    That is really one elegant black iPhone with a retro-cool logo!

  7. CC @ 30 October 2007, 04:44 :

    Really cool, great job!

  8. DPA @ 30 October 2007, 05:13 :

    I dont get it, in your attempt to avoid random people coming up and talking about your “bling” you’ve changed the iPhone even more and made a apple logo that is even more obvious. I would think now, more people would approach you. Nice work, but im not sure I understand why.

  9. marty @ 30 October 2007, 05:32 :

    Reminds me of the black MacBook. Nicely done.

  10. Stephen @ 30 October 2007, 05:48 :

    that is amazing.

    I love the look of it.

  11. laydeh @ 30 October 2007, 06:51 :

    Great workmanship with the matte black + old apple logo!

    Let’s hope Steve Jobs comes across this, thinks of it as a brilliant idea, fly you over (all expenses paid for) and actually get your ‘design evolution’ up,patented n out on the streets!

    haha.. it’s so much nicer in black and less silver detailing. bravo!

  12. Unregistered @ 30 October 2007, 07:34 :

    Black is the new Black! :)
    I really dig the retro logo!

  13. Tofino @ 30 October 2007, 08:05 :

    i love it! that would look so nice next to my newton! if only i could get an iphone in canada…

  14. iPhone Savior @ 30 October 2007, 08:30 :

    Brilliantly done Dr.! A great nod to the old school. Black is absolutely the new black. Great addition to the iPhone family. Keep those bright ideas burning. Long live Frankenphone!

  15. Coolio @ 30 October 2007, 09:17 :

    Love limited eds? Some cash left? ;-))
    Here you go guys…..

  16. Coolio @ 30 October 2007, 09:19 :



  17. Chris @ 30 October 2007, 09:34 :

    Very nice indeed.

    Did you have to cut away some of the glass to fit the enlarged home button in? Or is that a separate piece?

  18. Rutger @ 30 October 2007, 10:18 :

    A bag of chips. WITH the dip!!!

  19. thatha @ 30 October 2007, 13:21 :

    What’s up with all the scratches on the back piece? Were the engravings purposefully sanded down to apply the matte?

  20. chris Perez @ 30 October 2007, 14:26 :

    thats so fucking cool!! I want one!!

  21. ormus @ 30 October 2007, 16:04 :


  22. Anon @ 30 October 2007, 16:11 :

    What if you would want to paint JUST the bezel? Do i need to disassembly it completely too? How much time do you estimate is needed to disassembly it?

  23. Marco @ 30 October 2007, 18:41 :

    Wow, pimpin’. Nice touch with the original apple logo ;) It’d be even cooler if the one on the back were like that..

  24. Cesar @ 30 October 2007, 19:06 :

    Why? It´s simple! THINK DIFFERENT!!! Amazing job!

  25. tiiiimmmy @ 30 October 2007, 19:08 :

    I am just jealous you get to live in Holland. I’d drop living in the states in a heart beat if there was a job for me in Amsterdam. sigh Nice mod!

  26. jemmx @ 30 October 2007, 20:22 :

    This is the “Real Original” design.

    I like so much.

  27. Anne Helmond @ 30 October 2007, 20:42 :

    Gefeliciteerd! Looks absolutely fabulous.

  28. Brandius @ 30 October 2007, 21:22 :

    O, wat mooi!!

  29. Sam gross @ 30 October 2007, 22:09 :

    The image is from the keynote speech at MacWorld, when steve jobs introduced the iPhone. demonstrating Google maps, he searched for “Starbucks” and then showed how you can call numbers by location in maps. when the barista picked up, Jobs asked for “4000 lattes to go” (One for everybody in Moscone).

  30. blackbrutha @ 31 October 2007, 01:59 :

    This proves that Jesus was black. The Jesus Phone is the same color as Jesus.

  31. Yong Hwee @ 31 October 2007, 02:08 :

    I can imagine how tedious the process was but hey, the phone looks amazing!

  32. doc @ 31 October 2007, 03:47 :

    What cover is on it? I have been looking for a very small silicone sleeve.

  33. joy @ 31 October 2007, 05:42 :

    Actually, I’ve got a thin black leather iPhone case which almost simulates the all black effect you created, sans the colorful apple button though. ;-)

  34. me @ 31 October 2007, 06:10 :

    someone should email this to apple telling them to make a design like this one

  35. joel @ 31 October 2007, 09:33 :

    this is completely stupid

  36. Al @ 31 October 2007, 09:55 :

    Saw this on DIGG – it looks great – the original apple logo rocks and really brings some life in to an already cool design.

  37. magician @ 31 October 2007, 10:06 :

    Black iPods are sexy ;-)


  38. Boghead @ 31 October 2007, 10:26 :

    I want that one.
    Sell it on ebay – let us show you the fiscal value of your effort!
    Max bid?

  39. Abdul Azim @ 31 October 2007, 11:45 :

    Excellent!.Look cool!.I like it.Thanks for sharing.Will surely tell the others.


    All you need to know about internet marketing

  40. higene @ 31 October 2007, 13:06 :

    cut your nails

  41. markie @ 31 October 2007, 13:47 :

    >cut your nails

    Now I’m done with this project, I will actually.

    I never imagined my thumbnail would be the cause of some concern ;-)

  42. me @ 31 October 2007, 14:39 :

    man, get a job! you have too much time on your hands ;-)

    well, it looks cheaper than the original and more prone to scratches. it’ll look great in a year ;-)

    i just love the bits of ‘stuff’ you stuck to it – very classy :-)

  43. Hee @ 31 October 2007, 15:19 :

    Might also want to check this out…


    Definately less expensive than the “ccphone” edition.

  44. Jack Gates @ 31 October 2007, 20:55 :

    Why not just cut the Apple logo/plastic piece out of the Newton? Great job, though!

  45. Wes @ 1 November 2007, 03:42 :

    Haha , as Jack said.. it seemed obvious to me… and they say immitation is the highest form of flattery… Very impressed by your work, i realised while reading i had a spare newton that stopped working a while back.. it quickly donated its apple logo :) Whats best is i found when using my iphone with a silicone case it was slightly harder to press the indented home button, but my new shiney oldschool apple logo makes my life easier ;)

    Heres a pic if anyones interested – http://img372.imageshack.us/img372/6301/iphonemod1hv3.jpg

  46. Bill @ 1 November 2007, 05:27 :

    That is so cool. I can’t beleive you have taken the time to do this. Very talented

  47. IranKala Network @ 2 November 2007, 14:28 :

    I Love IPhone…

  48. TG @ 3 November 2007, 11:23 :

    L’iPhone est un très bel objet. Le transformer de la sorte est assez marrant. Dommage que ce soit si mal réalisé.

    iPhone is a very pretty thing. Such a transformation is rather funny. But it is so badly realised…

  49. JustME @ 5 November 2007, 01:17 :

    you should make a business up on this, modding iphones in different colors perhaps and with the new button! you know what i mean?

  50. Stephan Winckler @ 5 November 2007, 12:28 :

    yes i have to admit that this iphone is definatly different and looks awsome but if you wanted to be unique then why did you post it step by step on the net. Another idea would be to make the iphone thinner and lighter and that is why i am heading to the shop right now to purchase an ipod touch and see if i can combine my iphone with it and turn it in the worlds slimmest iphone plus ill have 16gb to play around with.

  51. Kss @ 6 November 2007, 05:46 :

    Wow.. I like it. I really do not mind paying extra for this phone. I am still waiting for iphone to be brought in to my country :(

  52. hide @ 13 November 2007, 01:53 :

    I want to ask how do you take off the apple logo in the back of the cover?
    Mine just sticks there so hard, I cant get it off…
    Please help.

  53. markie @ 13 November 2007, 02:01 :

    Well, Apple-logos are attached in the same way in iBooks and I’m quite used to pressing extremely hard to get them out (without breaking anything). I did make a small beginning on the inside with a small screwdriver, in between the back and a part of the ‘logo metal’ you can’t see from the outside. Once I had a beginning, I pushed it out with my thumbs (but you probably still have to press until your thumbs ache…)

    good luck!

  54. hide @ 13 November 2007, 08:42 :

    Thanks alot. It comes out after I push it really hard. Just didnt want to try that if no one tells me to.
    I sprayed a few layers of primer today. I will wait for tomorrow, then I will spray the paint :)

  55. hide @ 13 November 2007, 09:47 :

    Hey.. I wonder do I have to sand it after my last paint spray.. because after spraying the primer, it seems to be very rough.. its not smooth. I know it will be better after I sand it. But I wonder will the same problem happens after I spray the paint..
    Thanks in advance!!

  56. peter huesken @ 15 November 2007, 13:04 :

    Check the copycats:

  57. ahmet faik @ 18 November 2007, 14:34 :

    great job.

  58. Thomas @ 4 December 2007, 12:41 :

    Nice job. If you prefer to customize-it easier I propose you to check my blog about mass-customization: http://masscustomization.blogspot.com/2007/11/4-faons-de-personnaliser-son-iphone.html

  59. Daniel @ 8 December 2007, 10:34 :

    That’s pretty slick.

  60. ziggy @ 18 December 2007, 19:53 :

    I love the iPhone even more now…that is gorgeous.
    Great work!!!

  61. Sirius Lock @ 8 January 2008, 06:48 :

    Would you try this on an iPod Touch, or is it brobably too thin?

    Also, would you have been able to make the black plastic flush with the rest of the iPhone if you sand the crap out of it? Or do you need the thickness for other stuff in there?

  62. a17n5ni17e @ 12 January 2008, 21:44 :

    I’d like it in pink.. but the thought is amazing!

  63. Justin @ 23 January 2008, 02:15 :

    How did you paint the iphone? For insatance, did you have to sand it, prime it, or what? Do you think you could tell me all the steps? Thanks, Justin

  64. Stump @ 4 February 2008, 21:56 :

    I don’t know what to say. Simply amazing. Can you play free online games on iphone. I have so many ipod MP3. A phone and a MP3 is were I’ll stay for a while

  65. jonathan sanchez @ 24 March 2008, 16:15 :

    wow great job on the phone….so i was wondering how on earth did you get the Apple Extended Keyboard II logo piece to stick to the iphone!

  66. Carlos Rodriguez @ 16 April 2008, 21:18 :

    This is sweet! Very Ol’ Skool looking. Apple should consider this as a “new look” options for Ol’ Skool guys like me.

  67. 128d @ 3 May 2008, 20:10 :

    How in the world do you get the volume and ringer buttons off of the backplate?

  68. theT @ 9 May 2008, 00:11 :

    dude, cool design but cut your nasty fingernails

  69. Black Iphones @ 29 June 2008, 08:19 :

    Wow! Now that’s impressive!

  70. Twoton @ 3 July 2008, 08:04 :

    someone up there said something about steve jobs flying you all around the world for a great idea you came up with. Well, now it’s black. But he didn’t have to fly you all over the world for it.

  71. mark hoekstra @ 3 July 2008, 22:15 :

    >But he didn’t have to fly you all over the world for it.

    I guess he’s a cheap skate :-)

  72. Isaac @ 11 July 2008, 17:59 :

    Do you have to make the back rough for the spray paint to stick, or should it be fine just how it is? I’ve been wanting to do something like this to mine, but haven’t quite found the guts yet (my parents won’t let me buy another phone if I screw up)

  73. Beemo @ 14 August 2008, 08:09 :

    nice guide! but i don’t think i can do it by myself

  74. swodgy @ 14 January 2009, 01:16 :

    hi i want the same how much for that ?

  75. swodgy @ 14 January 2009, 01:16 :

    hi i want the same how much for that ?

  76. GionnyCarnage @ 11 February 2009, 14:37 :

    How can i paint it?what kind of colour?

  77. n00bix @ 14 February 2009, 07:44 :

    Hi. Can you post the paint procedure? Thx

  78. aurélie @ 26 February 2009, 16:28 :

    congratulation!! it’s crazy !!
    I like that it’s very cool !!

  79. Mike @ 17 April 2009, 11:28 :

    Hey, very nice phone…I was planning to paint my case some time soon and came across this site…I was wondering: How did you avoid painting the internals of the case (i.e. the earphone jack, the volume-silent-and power buttons)...? Did you simply tape them up?(inside and out?)...or did you remove them first? If so Please explain how?...

    Thanks very much in advance!

  80. uobio @ 21 April 2009, 16:52 :

    I must say i just love it!
    very nice work there, you’re a pro!
    you should do this for living! :) just joking, you could sell them but, as others say, it’s hard to find so many logos.
    thanks for all explanations and pics!

  81. colsonmitchum @ 10 May 2009, 19:46 :

    so to bet the black bezel u just sand it a lil with sandpaper and spray paint? what kind?

  82. iphoneearner @ 13 June 2009, 08:54 :

    yh, please post what paint you used and the grey bit on the back, did you sand it or was it already like that?

  83. wannapaintttttt @ 6 August 2009, 06:24 :

    i tried it but wat type of paint did u use? cuz the paint i used rubs off at the edges soo wat type of paint?

  84. david @ 7 August 2009, 14:07 :

    the man is dead u sad fucks

  85. wannapainnttt @ 7 August 2009, 23:06 :

    hey david , u dont hafta be such an asshole about it, as if we knew. fucker.

    on another more solemn note i give my most sincere condolences to the family of mark and i hope u rest in peace buddy

  86. kamlesh @ 5 March 2010, 22:17 :


    can you pls tell what kind of spray paint you used for the cover and bezel?

    What kind of sandpaper you used for this project?

    I would like to do the same.

    Thank you

  87. Alex @ 14 August 2010, 15:11 :

    Well thats really interesting to paint a phone. I got a gift of Samsung 821sc. Its color is purple ?I really want to change it.. Please specify the products and brand you used in a checklist form. Moreover please tell about the reliablity of the paint used.Thanks

  88. Phone 3G @ 28 November 2010, 00:59 :

    nice technique to color with spray paint… :)

  89. Phone 3G @ 28 November 2010, 01:00 :

    nice technique to color with spray paint… :)

  90. Chiwah @ 28 November 2010, 09:17 :

    Just to let you guys know he ain’t among us anymore sad news http://i.tuaw.com/2008/09/20/mark-hoekstra-of-geek-technique-passes-away-at-34/

As mentioned in the Message from Mark's family this site has been made static. This means that it will be no longer possible to comment on his ideas and projects, but that we all can continue to cherish his creativity.

             you can find all of my projects overhere