If you’ve never dropped an iPhone or iPad then consider yourself lucky, for the sickening sound of glass and metal hitting a hard surface will make any stomach drop. It doesn’t matter how strong a piece of glass is – it can, and will, break under certain conditions. Glass is particularly prone to knocks around edges and corners. On the iPhone it’s common to see breaks emanate outwards from the lock/mute button.
Apple uses Gorilla Glass for all its iOS devices. Gorilla Glass is created through a proprietary process that sees raw materials being blended into a glass composition that’s microns thick. A chemical strengthening process then sees large ions being “stuffed” into the glass surface, before the glass is placed in a hot bath of molten salt at 400°. Needless to say, it’s a complicated process that results in the strongest glass available in a consumer product. The process is refined and improved every few years, resulting in stronger versions of the glass that are subsequently manufactured into the latest iOS devices. The most recent iPhones and iPads use Gorilla Glass 3, which is claimed to be 40% more scratch-resistant than earlier iterations.
Cracked screens are incredibly dangerous and should be fixed immediately. The fine cracks in Gorilla Glass will cut skin on contact, and it’s possible that small pieces will fall out causing further problems. So, what’s the best course of action when the glass screen on your iOS device is broken?
If you’ve already purchased AppleCare+ then congratulations, Apple will happily replace the screen of your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch for an excess fee of $79, plus applicable tax. If you’ve already broken the screen and wish to buy AppleCare+ then you’re out of luck – Apple like to inspect all devices before activating AppleCare+.
Take the device to an Apple Store
The price of replacing a screen differs from one device to another. Older devices use separate components for the glass and LCD, whereas recent devices include composite screens that merge the LCD with the glass. This improves color reproduction and reduces glare, but increases repair costs. Here’s a quick breakdown of the screen replacement cost:
- iPhone, 3G, 3GS, $99
- iPhone 4, 4s, 5, 5s, 5c: $229
- iPad mini: $219
- iPad, iPad 2: $219
- iPad 3rd, 4th Generation: $299
- iPad Air: $299
- iPod touch: $99
Take the device to a third-party
If you own an older iPhone model (that’s the original iPhone up to the 4s) then you can happily take your iPhone to a third-party repair shop and get it fixed for anywhere between $30 to $99. Typically you can expect the repair to take 30 minutes. Afterwards you’ll have a brand new screen that’s scratch and smash free. Be aware, however, that it’s likely you’ll see cuts and chips in the frame around the screen. This is a consequence of the repair shop having to force-off the screen by hand.
The price of replacing an iPhone 5, 5c and 5s screen is considerably higher, if not the same as Apple’s price. So your best bet here is to take the phone to Apple for repair.
As for iPads, expect to pay anywhere between $100 to $200 for a screen replacement, depending on the models size and age.