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The painstaking process of gold-plating an iPhone 6 (pictures)

We took a close look at how an iPhone 6 gets completely taken apart, coated in gold, then put back together in full working order.

Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon headshot

Andrew Lanxon

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1 of 55 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

I caught up with Goldgenie in its office in the heart of London to see every step of how an iPhone 6 is completely dismantled, enrobed in gold and then put back together in full working order.

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The first step in taking apart this pricey bit of tech is to remove the screws from the bottom end of the phone.

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Once they're gone, the screen can be lifted out.

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The circuit boards beneath the screen are all held down by their own tiny screws.

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When individual parts are unscrewed, tweezers are needed to lift out the tiny components.

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This is the iPhone 6's camera unit. It's an extremely capable camera that can snag some amazing shots, but the component itself is absolutely tiny.

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The speakers of the phone are housed behind the drilled holes in the bottom. Get them out by poking a screwdriver through the holes.

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The battery is glued into place. By focusing the heat from the hair dryer on the back of the phone, the engineer can melt the glue slightly...

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...allowing the battery to be pried out.

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Among the last parts to come out are the buttons on the side of the phone.

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The Apple logo isn't etched into the back panel, it's a separate inset altogether. Like the battery, it's glued in and needs heating up before removing.

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And here it is. It's important not to lose it.

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There are so many tiny parts, each secured in place by screws so small, they almost look like bits of dust and dirt. It takes Goldgenie's technician around an hour and a half to dismantle and reassemble an iPhone 6.

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Here are the buttons up close.

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And the back casing, completely free of all internal components.

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This is the back of the phone's display.

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The tools used in dismantling the iPhone 6 looks rather like the sort of thing you'd expect to find in an operating theatre.

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Here's the heart of the phone -- this is the bit that houses the processor.

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It's also where you'll find the storage. In this case it's made by Toshiba.

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The phone casing undergoes a polishing procedure, followed by a deep clean to ensure a totally clean surface.

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It has to be completely clean, as any particles may cause imperfections when the gold plating is applied.

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It's cleaned again with water before being wiped down.

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And here is the gold. Were you expecting a pot of liquid gold metal? So was I.

It's actually a solution that's full of tiny 24 carat gold specks. Goldgenie explained to me that it uses a much higher concentration of gold in its solution than most gold plating services to ensure a higher quality of finish -- there's 12mg of gold per litre of solution.

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This is called the activator. It's applied to the phone to make the metal porous, therefore allowing the gold plate to 'stick'.

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The process requires an electric current to be constantly passed through the phone for the particles of gold to properly merge with the phone body.

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After the activator is applied, a wash with pure water is required.

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Then the gold is applied. The application brush is connected to an electric source, as is the phone body -- the current is being passed all the way through.

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It takes a few moments, but eventually the gold colour starts to become noticeable.

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Not that only the middle section has taken on the gold -- the top and bottom sections are separated by plastic strips which break the electric connection. These parts have to be done separately.

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It's washed down with water after each stage of application.

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And now the top and bottom sections are done, along with the edges.

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The gold colour is far more dramatic at this point.

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Finally, it's washed again, before being dried off.

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A polish is applied and buffed to a shiny finish. The polish helps 'set' the gold and makes it more durable against scuffs.

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Goldgenie will also apply real diamonds to the edge, buttons and the Apple logo on the phone. It doesn't just glue them on though -- it uses tiny metal clasps to hold the gems, much like an engagement ring does.

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And now, the tricky process of putting all those tiny parts back together.

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The first part to go back is the Apple logo. A strong glue is applied...

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... before it's pushed firmly into place.

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Not only are the screws tiny, there are so many of them. Goldgenie's technician says it's not that difficult to keep track of however as each screw is designed to fit in only one place. If one won't fit, it's because it's in the wrong place.

Even so, the technician is strict about where each place is put once it's removed from the phone to ensure it all goes back in the correct order.

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It's even more tricky getting some parts back in as it was removing them. The technician must be incredibly precise to ensure that none of the extremely delicate components are damaged in the process.

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Goldgenie's technician uses near-surgical precision.

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Double-sided tape is applied to the battery to stick it back in place.

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It's firmly pressed down to ensure it won't come loose down the line.

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It's not just phones that Goldgenie will wrap in gold -- this bike has been wrapped in gold and will be encrusted with diamonds before going on sale for an eye-watering £250,000 ($402,237, AU$459,7680). It's not a bike to leave locked up outside a pub on a Friday night.

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The screen is lined up...

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...and pressed into place.

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It lives!

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A final check, to ensure there are no gaps anywhere.

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And here's the finished model, in perfect working order.

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It's certainly a striking-looking bit of kit.

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And a good way of standing out from the iPhone 6 owners who have the standard silver or grey versions.

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Goldgenie has also worked out a way of applying the gold plating to the plastic back of the Samsung Galaxy S5.

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All gold phones from Goldgenie come in these bespoke display boxes.

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Along with certificates of authenticity.

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Here's Goldgenie founder Laban Roomes, looking extremely happy with one of his gold-covered phones.

Roomes appeared on British entrepreneur reality show "Dragon's Den" and was successful in achieving funding for Goldgenie from investor James Caan.

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