So you pull into a parking spot, take your seat belt off and start to get out of the car when you suddenly remember your phone is still on your lap. But it’s too late, the soft thud of your phone hitting the ground is a sound that I’m all too familiar with. Back when I used to own an iPhone, that exact scenario happened to me at the gas station. Fortunately, the phone was only a month and a half old so it was still covered under my credit card’s protection plan. I really lucked out but most people are not so fortunate.
If you’ve ever dropped your precious smart phone, it’s almost like slow motion watching the agonizing 3-4 foot drop happen in real time. The odds are, you’re going to pick up your phone and there’s going to be a nice sized spider crack on the front of the screen. For whatever reason, smartphones these days are very vulnerable to drops and this problem is magnified with iPhones. Some people can live with a cracked screen but I don’t think it’s very safe or aesthetically pleasing to have a giant crack taking up most of your screen. Who wants to be surfing the internet with a piece of broken glass in their finger? I usually joke that the spider crack app is the most popular one around since it seems like everyone’s broken their iPhone screen at one point or another.
I have a hunch(or maybe it’s more like a conspiracy theory) that Apple made their screens so weak on purpose so that consumers would be forced to buy replacement screens at a huge mark-up. It wouldn’t be the first time a mega-corporation did something like this. Luckily, you’ve got the PF Pro on your side to help you figure out what the best fix for a broken iPhone screen is.
The Cheapest Solution
The cheapest solution to a broken iPhone screen is probably the pre-emptive one: buy a solid case. But I know that most people(myself included) don’t like walking around with a 2 pound brick in their pocket. It kind of defeats the purpose of a portable device if the case is 2-3x as thick as the phone. But not only do I prefer the feel of my naked phone, I also think it looks way better without a case. The engineers at Apple and Samsung put a lot of work into their designs so why cover it up with some hideous case?
Some people are definitely more prone to drops than others. So if you consider yourself a little bit clumsy or even a lot, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a solid case like the Otterbox. If I had a kid with a smart phone, there’s no way I’d ever let him go without a case. These phones are just too fragile to be put in the hands of someone that’s likely to drop them. Buying a case after you drop your phone won’t do much good either, since you’ll be a lot more careful once you’ve broken it once.
The Do It Yourself Repair
I’ve been using a GS3 now for about a year and a half without a case and so far so good. I’ve dropped it short distances onto soft surfaces a couple times but the screen hasn’t cracked yet. If it does break, or if my fiancee’s iPhone 5 screen gets shattered, I’ll probably go the do it yourself route. I’m kind of curious to know what the inside of a phone looks like anyways and it seems like a pretty fun project. You have to be very careful though since it’s easy to screw up other things when your phone’s guts are exposed. There are lots of detailed instructional videos on Youtube if you need some help.
I found a very highly rated kit(4.5 stars) on Amazon for $90. That seems like a pretty fair price to me since it includes the screen, all the tools you’d need to take the screen off(apparently there are a lot of little tiny screws), some other miscellaneous items and instructions. The actual screens aren’t too expensive but it looks like a lot of the ancillary parts bring up the cost. You can probably get just the screen for a whole lot less but the ones I found on Amazon didn’t have very high reviews.
Craigslist or Yelp
If you’re not the do it yourself type, the next cheapest option is to find a respectable third party dealer that can do it for you. They’ll basically do the same thing as the kit above but charge you for their labor. Most repair guys charge in the $75-$125 range but you’ll need to verify their work somehow. Normally, I would go to Craigslist for something like this but I think Yelp might yield better results since you want someone who has a lot of positive reviews. I’d be very apprehensive to meet someone in the back of an alley to fix my iPhone since you’re ultimately on the hook if they screw up.
Look for someone with a small shop or a decent customer base so that you know they’ll stand behind their work. I went on Yelp and I was able to find several 5 star(multiple reviews) rated iPhone repair guys.
The Ripoff(I mean Apple) Store
I think it’s pretty wrong to charge customers $149 for a little piece of glass that was probably made in China for under a dollar, especially after you’ve already shelled out $700+ for the phone but that’s exactly what Apple does. Ok enough complaining, going to the Apple store is obviously the safest route since you won’t void your warranty by using a third party retailer and you’ll get a refurbished phone that is guaranteed to work. But it’s going to cost you a lot more. The Apple store is considerably more expensive than the other options so it’s up to you to decide what’s the best fit.
(Note: The prices may vary to get your screen replaced at the Apple store and some of the newer phones may not be available for repair in store just yet)
Readers, have you ever shattered your iPhone screen? What do you think are the best repair options: Otterbox, Do It Yourself Kit, Third Party Retailer or Apple Store?
-Harry @ PF Pro
Editor’s Note: If you buy a product from Amazon using one of my links I will get a small commission.