iPhone Screen Repair – Here Are Your Options
Nothing stings more than when your iPhone drops, almost in slow motion, and lands on its screen. You pick it up and timidly turn it over to inspect the damage. Nine times out of ten, everything’s okay. Yet, every once and awhile, you’re greeted to a spider web of cracked glass. iPhone screen repairs can make your stomach turn—iPhones aren’t cheap, and it’s not easy to ignore a broken screen. Luckily, depending on the severity of the damage, you may have some options.
Isn’t iPhone Glass Unbreakable?
Some of us find a sense of pride in having an iPhone without any accessories attached to it such as a case or a screen protector. However, even if iPhones are advertised as having hardy, durable glass screens, you’re still taking a gamble by keeping your iPhone unprotected.
The truth is, iPhone screen glass is durable. You can attack it with your car keys all you want or even drag it across concrete. Chances are, it’ll suffer no ill consequences thanks to the hardness of its glass. However, hardness isn’t the only thing keeping your glass from shattering. On the contrary—flexing glass is often the culprit when a screen is broken.
If your iPhone falls at the right angle, let’s say a corner, that impact isn’t dispersed over a wide area, it’s concentrated in one zone and that energy travel unimpeded across the surface of the glass. And like throwing a stone into a pond, that impact will ripple outward, sometimes with enough kinetic energy to shatter your glass. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that shattered screens often have a dented frame, showing that the phone impacted on a corner.
How Can I Protect my iPhone?
The only sure-fire way to safeguard your iPhone is with a durable case rated for protection. Many cases are cosmetic—they may offer some rudimentary protection from fall damage but they’re mostly for looks and for keeping your iPhone free of scuffs and scratches. A truly durable iPhone case will feature a thick, rubberized or metal enclosure that fully encapsulates your iPhone. It may or may not have a screen protector attached.
Two great examples of companies that offer real, hardy protective cases for your smartphone are Otterbox and Lifeproof. Whatever brand you choose, ensure you’re picking a brand that offers a warranty should your iPhone break when in their case—that proves that they stand by their product. A good protective iPhone case will take the brunt of any impact, along any angle, and absorb that kinetic energy before it travels into your iPhone.
Are Screen Protectors Necessary?
Today, smartphone screens are manufactured with glass that is so high on the hardness scale (it’s often mixed with a super hard mineral, like sapphire) that not much will scratch it. Your car keys, concrete, or gravel will do virtually no damage to your iPhone.
However, after the years, that protective coating over the glass will eventually erode at the microscopic level, be it from UV radiation from the sun or from particulate in the air and in your pocket.
However, one trip to the beach is all it takes to add some gnarly scratches to your iPhone screen, especially if some sand finds its way into your pocket. That’s because silica, the stuff sand is made of, is one of the hardest substances on Earth and most of it is higher on the hardness scale than the glass on your iPhone.
While screen protectors aren’t really necessary, they will certainly help keep your iPhone in tip-top shape if you’re planning on keeping it for more than a couple years. Ask yourself how often you wax your car—if you do it twice a month, then you’re probably an iPhone screen protector kind of person. If you’re wondering how exactly a car and wax go together, then you’re probably okay with a few cosmetic scratches on your iPhone.
Can My iPhone Screen Be Repaired?
In a lot of cases, your iPhone screen can be repaired. Sometimes, due to heavy puncture damage, your iPhone may have some damaged internals, like the battery, and repair would not be an economical option. But as long as your iPhone frame is still intact and most of the damage is relegated to the glass, then repair is always on the table.
However, the cost of repair can sometimes outweigh the value of your iPhone. Depending on the circumstances, it may be worth it to explore phone replacement.Still, you have a few options to explore when looking into a screen repair.
Certified Apple Screen Repair
The clearest cut option for a screen replacement is through Apple, be it at an Apple Store, an authorized Apple service provider, or by shipping your iPhone to Apple for repair. It’s best to settle on this option right as you buy your new iPhone. Having your iPhone repaired through Apple is like taking your car to a dealership—it’s more expensive but there are warranty options that can heavily subsidize the repair price, provided you spend some money upfront on a warranty. In Apple’s case, it’s called AppleCare, and it’s the only thing between you and an affordable screen repair through Apple.
Truthfully, AppleCare is a great way to extend the life (and minimize your liability) of your iPhone. When the time comes, having AppleCare is the difference between a $30.00 annoyance and a massive iPhone repair bill that can even exceed the value of your iPhone. Apple lists its screen repair pricing on their website:
As you can see, AppleCare factors greatly in making an iPhone screen repair cost-effective. If you don’t have AppleCare, then you’re going to be spending a lot of money to get your iPhone screen repaired.If you do go with this option, and you’ve made an appointment ahead of time, an Apple Store can usually finish a screen repair same-day for you. Depending on their level of business, they could even finish it within the hour.
Third-Party iPhone Screen Repair
You’ve seen third-party iPhone repair shops, be they in a shopping plaza or set up as a simple mall kiosk. Third-party iPhone repair shops can be a cheaper, although riskier, means of repairing your iPhone screen. The parts they use are often aftermarket but usually passable. Notably, third party shops do not have access to the proprietary screen calibration equipment that Apple has on hand. While not necessary, screen calibration is used to ensure that the conductive layer and the LED layer of your screen are perfectly calibrated. Without this, your iPhone may suffer some unresponsiveness that it didn’t have previously.
The third-party repair market is very much a product of the local economy. However, thumbtack.com values the average repair cost of an iPhone screen via third party repair at between $70 and $90. Bear in mind that the newest generation iPhone will have brand new aftermarket parts and a limited supply of those parts—expect prices for those screen repairs to be much higher, as high as $270 in some cases.
If you’re exploring third party repair, it’s best to shop around and do your research. Find a repair shop that has good reviews—more important than price is that your iPhone is repaired professionally.
DIY iPhone Screen Repair
Do-it-yourself repairs can be a satisfying learning experience or a frustrating waste of money. Depending on your comfort with electronics repair, you may want to research doing your screen repair. The well-known phone repair website, ifixit.com, sells credible iPhone screen repair kits for those of us who have a knack for doing our repairs.
Since you’re only paying for the parts and none of the labor, doing your own iPhone screen repair is the cheapest yet riskiest way to fix your iPhone. However, iPhone screens are one big component that clicks into the logic board—barring some finagling with the connector, it’s a relatively straight forward repair with little consequence should you not get it quite right the first time. Just bear in mind that, without proper screen calibration, you run the risk of a less snappy experience with your new screen.
Most of all, ensure you’re in an anti-static environment if you decide to do your own repair. The last thing you want is to finish your screen repair, only to realize that the static electricity stored in your socks just zapped the life out of your iPhone.
Is it Worth it to Have My iPhone Screen Repaired?
No matter the circumstances, you always have options if you wind up with a shattered iPhone screen. The most straightforward of all is to invest in AppleCare. Having Apple’s extended warranty gives you peace of mind should anything happen to your iPhone. Most of all, you know that your repair is in the hands of certified professionals.
But if you neglected to buy AppleCare, third party and DIY options are always on the table. They can be low cost, and if done by a professional (be it a local business or by you, the master repairman), then you’ll suffer no ill consequence and squeeze a little more life out of your iPhone.
Of course, should you find that your iPhone is too badly damaged, or too old to be feasibly repaired, then you should think about buying a new iPhone altogether. The thrill of making a new purchase might mitigate the sting of breaking your trusty old iPhone. Just make sure that, if you do invest in a new iPhone, that you don’t throw the old one out just because its seen better days. Consider a buyback program to get a little cash out of it. Even if it’s a shadow of its former self, your old iPhone can perform one last courtesy for you by putting a little extra money in your pocket.