How to fix a cracked iPhone or iPad screen
Smashing the screen on your iPhone (or iPad or iPod, for that matter) is sadly a common issue. We’ve all been there: you drop your beloved device, reach down and pick it up – of course it landed screen down – and inspect the damage, only to have your worst fears confirmed. The screen is shattered.
Well, chin up. It’s bad, but it’s not disastrous. You have options. In this article we round up the five best ways of repairing a damaged iPhone or iPad display, and explain the pros and cons of each. We’ll have that screen repaired in no time, don’t you worry.
The tips in this article, by the way, are all about mending iPhone displays that are visibly broken. If your iPhone’s screen just isn’t working or responding to your touch, try How to fix a frozen iPhone screen.
Get Apple to repair the screen
Apple will come to the rescue and repair your cracked screen, but it won’t do this for free, even if you’re still in the warranty period, as accidental damage isn’t covered by the standard warranty.
If you went the extra mile and paid for AppleCare+ (or if you’re considering it and wonder is AppleCare+ worth it?) then the cost won’t be too high. AppleCare+ includes repairs for up to two cases of accidental damage. But there’s still an excess fee. Users need to pay £25/$29 to fix their iPhone display no matter what model it is, with all other repairs costing a flat rate of £79/$99.
Assuming you haven’t got AppleCare+, the cost of your screen repair will be much higher. It’s best to get in touch with Apple and see what they’d charge in your case. You can get an idea by visiting the Apple Screen Repair site as it outlines the prices for various models. As a rule of thumb, here are some examples;
- iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone XS Max: £316.44/$329
- iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone XS, iPhone X: £266.44/$279
- iPhone 12 Mini: £216.44/$229
- iPhone 11, iPhone XR: £196.44/$199
- iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6s Plus: £164.44/$169
- iPhone 8, iPhone 7, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus: £152.44/$149
- iPhone SE, iPhone 6, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5: £136.44/$129
You can also visit the Apple iPad Screen Repairs to check the prices for your particular tablet. The repair costs vary quite a bit, with the most expensive being the iPad Pro 12.9in (4th gen) at £616.44/$649 and the cheapest the iPad Mini and iPad Mini 2 at £206.44/$199.
If this appeals you can read about Apple’s policies on iPhone screen repairs here, and on iPad screen repairs here, but many of us will be looking for a cheaper repair than this. So, what other options are available?
Go to a high-street retailer
The high street. The one-stop shop for all your needs – including iPhone or iPad screen repairs.
The high street is where most of us will go when we break our phone or tablet screen because, generally speaking, people like the personal touch, which is something you tend not to get when using online repair services. Another point for the ‘high street vs online’ argument is that if anything goes wrong with a high-street repair then you know where to go to complain (unlike with most online services).
Of course, Covid-19 has made this option a lot harder of late, so be sure to contact any retailer to see if the service is still available before you head out with your broken device under your arm.
While we recommend some high street repair shops, you should be aware that there have been cases of iPhones that have been repaired with certain replacement screens becoming unresponsive to touch, while other elements stop working due to Apple seemingly matching components to each individual device, as reported by iFixit. The latter seems to be only relevant to iPhone 12 models, but we strongly advise you to discuss this with any repairer before they commence work.
Companies who perform third-party repairs have been suspicious for a while now that Apple is disabling functionality on purpose to stop third-party repairs.
Aakshay Kripalani, CEO of Injured Gadgets, a repair shop, told Motherboard: “Customers are annoyed and it seems like Apple is doing this to prevent customers from doing 3rd party repair.”
The right-to-repair using a third-party is protected by law and there are laws being prepared in the EU courts to protect consumers against the aggresive behaviours of companies like Apple.
Team Knowhow (Carphone Warehouse/Currys PC World)
At Macworld UK we highly recommend Team Knowhow (found within certain Carphone Warehouse and Currys PC World stores). It offers Apple certified screen repairs, a rarity on the UK high street. This means it’s preferable to cheaper options like iSmash as repairs with Team Knowhow don’t void your Apple warranty.
Team Knowhow sends your iPhone direct to Apple, yet prices also undercut Apple’s themselves, so you’re getting a repair for cheaper from Apple itself. The company only uses genuine Apple parts, meaning your iPhone warranty won’t become void by using the service, and it provides all customers with a 90-day guarantee following any repairs.
Team KnowHow also states that ‘Apple currently request that we send iPhones back to the manufacturer for repair – however we will exchange your phone for a refurbished unit from Apple if it is within the warranty period.’
The company offers standard screen replacements, with quotes being available when you contact the store, but that’s not all – as a fully approved iPhone repair provider, Team Knowhow can carry out any warranty repairs just like the Apple Store, completely free of charge.
We tested the service with a smashed iPhone 7 Plus and received excellent same-day service – it was ready in under three hours, and you drop off and pick up yourself, provided that the stores are allows to open under the current Pandemic guidelines.
The catch? It’s only available in a handful of stores at this time. Check if there’s one near you here. Those interested should head straight into a store, no appointment required.
High-street chain Timpsons has noticed the growing demand for a local repair service and have added screen repair services at a number of stores. To avoid disappointment we strongly recommend either calling your local branch to see if they can help, or using the firm’s store locator with the filter set to ‘Phone and Tablet Repairs’.
This should be a far cheaper option than Apple, although like with iSmash your warranty will be effected and the parts are not authentic Apple components. On the Mobile Phone Repair section of its site, the company outlines the prices for replacing a screen, ranging from £49.95 for an original iPhone SE up to £399.95 for an iPhone 11 Pro Max. There’s no options for the iPhone 12 range yet, but this could be linked to the issues mentioned above.
Screen repairs on iPhones should be carried out the same day, but Timpsons warns that tablet repairs can take longer. In both cases there may be additional delays if the staff have to order in a part, or if the Covid situation worsens.
If all this sounds good, read about Timpsons’ screen repair services here.
Down sides of high-street screen repairs
High-street retailers are an obvious option, and Timpsons is a well-known brand, but what of the lesser known high-street shops promising to fix your iPhone? Using a high-street retailer could be a risky process because when you leave the store, you don’t know who’s handling your iPhone or what they’re doing to it.
People like to keep their private lives private – and what is at the centre of most people’s lives? Smartphones. From email to texts to photos, our digital world revolves primarily around smartphones. When you take your iPhone to a high-street retailer, you’re handing over your central hub, so to speak, and there’s a small risk that your data could be browsed and even remotely stored. A lack of security regulation in smaller, independent shops could be risky, especially for business users.
Replacement screen parts are fairly easy to come across and can be bought fairly cheaply online. The issue with this is that cheap screens and parts seem to have a tendency to break more often than official Apple parts. What does that result in? More trips to the shop to get it repaired and more money spent. If a high-street retailer charges as little as £40 to replace an iPhone XR screen, say, you should start questioning how that’s possible.
Send your device to an online repair service
The next option to consider is an online repair service. With these you send to device to the company, who then completes the repair and returns it to you. Obviously, with the upheaval Covid has brought to the world, these are a great option as they mean you don’t have to rely on the shops being open for business.
One of the most popular repairers of this type is iSmash, which has made a name for itself as a quick, accessible and cheap iPhone repair service. From our personal experience, it does an adequate job, but you should be aware that using the service voids Apple warranty and they don’t use Apple-approved parts.
As an example of what you might need to pay, at the time of writing an iPhone 11 screen repair would set you back £170 for the standard repair, which comes with a three month warranty. Going up to the £185 Premium service gives you a lifetime guarantee, TrueTone display and some other extra benefits.
iSmash also offers a walk-in service if you live in the capital, with shops all around London – on the King’s Road, High Street Kensington, Canary Wharf and Victoria Station. That means that you can book an appointment, take your Apple device into the store and get it repaired on the same day.
Get your device repaired at your home
Up until the start of Covid you could call on the likes of Repairly and PhoneDudes to come to your house and conduct the repair. Sadly, both of these have now closed their doors, presumably unable to cope with the lockdown restrictions that would have ruined their businesses. Whether we see a return to the door-to-door repairman remains a mystery, but probably not in the immediate future.
If your screen damage is more cosmetic than anything, there are other DIY options available. With the internet being the internet, there are a variety of home remedies for scratches (not cracks) on your screen – including, weirdly enough, toothpaste. Other options include car scratch removal creams, such as the 3M Scratch and Swirl remover that apparently works wonders on a scratched screen. Make sure that all ports are sealed before attempting to use creams, as you don’t want to add liquid damage to your list of problems.
There’s one more option – but it’s not for the faint-hearted. iFixit provides tutorials on how to repair any part of any iPhone (and similar articles for the iPad). They give clear and easy-to-follow steps with high-resolution images highlighting exactly what you need to do. They’re also a one-stop shop – once you’ve found the tutorial you need, you can buy all the parts directly from them, making it far less likely that you’ll buy the wrong parts.
Do pay attention to the difficulty rating of each tutorial, however. You need to be fairly confident with your technical ability, as any unauthorised repairs of your iPhone will void the warranty and Apple won’t touch it.
Of course, if the damage is just too much to repair, then you’ll want to invest in a new model. So, take a look at our guide to the best iPhone deals roundup to see if you can bag a bargain.