Have you cracked?
July 19, 2012 7:08 AM   Subscribe

How to fix your cracked iPhone glass I hope this will help you save some money if you crack your iPhone screen. Then please take the money you would have spent to go do something nice for someone.
posted by Yellow (57 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's a 1st Gen iPhone, isn't it? Does anyone still have one of those?
posted by HuronBob at 7:10 AM on July 19, 2012


The example shows the first generation, but it says it is the same process for the newer ones too.
posted by Yellow at 7:13 AM on July 19, 2012


It's a second-gen phone - the silver-bodied one was the first generation of iPhone - so yes.

For what it's worth, I've done this twice now and it is quite difficult, finicky work to get right. These things aren't really intended to be opened up by normal humans, so they don't make it easy.
posted by mhoye at 7:16 AM on July 19, 2012


Looks like surgery.
Local repair places want $90 to repair the daughter's Ipod Touch - anyone have any experiences with online repair places?
posted by incandissonance at 7:21 AM on July 19, 2012


Man, I can't even get a screen protector on without fucking up the corners and getting dust trapped under it.
posted by griphus at 7:21 AM on July 19, 2012 [22 favorites]


Isn't this sort of internet fixit howto pretty standard? It's certainly "best of the web" when you need the know how, but analogous instructions exists for virtually every piece of consumer electronics.

In fact, I'd recommend skimming some basic repair instructions *before* buying any electronics, even if you'll buy the warranty too. I only bought my MacBook Air after discovering that ifixit.com's replacement instructions for its SSD were half the length of the replacement instructions for my old MacBook Pro's HD since my past MacBooks trashed their HDs every 6-18 months.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:22 AM on July 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


How To Make A Squirrel From A Glove, or: Are Single How Tos Good Posts?
posted by Plutor at 7:22 AM on July 19, 2012 [31 favorites]


About once a week I have a recurring nightmare of a cracked screen on my phone or tablet. This post does nothing to dispel my anxiety.
posted by Jode at 7:26 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


These things aren't really intended to be opened up by normal humans, so they don't make it easy.

I'll spend the day envisioning the type of "abnormal/subnormal/extranormal" types of beings working in some dark, dank basement replacing screens on iPhones.
posted by HuronBob at 7:27 AM on July 19, 2012


I can't image something I am less likely to do. I pay to have my oil changed.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:28 AM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Adafruit now sells replacement backs for the iPhone 4/4S models, so you can do cool things like adding an RFID to the inside of the phone. (Of course it would be better if there were already an NFC chip inside, but hacking it in works, too...)
posted by autopilot at 7:30 AM on July 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'll spend the day envisioning the type of "abnormal/subnormal/extranormal" types of beings working in some dark, dank basement replacing screens on iPhones.

With their small frames and nimble fingers, the Morlocks have found better uses for the Eloi than just food.
posted by griphus at 7:31 AM on July 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


or you could, y'know, buy a phone that isn't made COMPLETELY FROM GLASS...srsly, I think Jon Ive peaked a while ago and was no Henry Dreyfuss to begin with...
posted by sexyrobot at 7:35 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suppose showing iOS device owners that iOS devices aren't completely unrepeatable warrants a post, but really..

If you've even the slightest inclination to repair your broken stuff, then you should skim repair instructions before you buy. iPods, iPads, etc. might not look as attractive once you've compared repairing them with repairing similar non-Apple devices, not sure since I avoid iOD like the plague anyways.

Anywho, simply google "screen replacement [device]" for your own device, usually you could choose between simply buying a complete screen assembly, or replacing just the glass.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:36 AM on July 19, 2012


This would need a level of dexterity and precision that is way beyond my ham-fisted capabilities. If I ever get a cellphone and break it I'll just pay someone non-butterfingered to do the necessary.
posted by Decani at 7:39 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seems like getting some better physical protection for the device would be a plan. So would a device that was more rugged to start with.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:43 AM on July 19, 2012


Although I loathe Apple with a vengeance, I do appreciate DIY articles like this that help streamline life. People with similar inclinations should check out Lifehacker - I read it frequently, and it's been really helpful to me.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 7:44 AM on July 19, 2012


How to fix your cracked Faberge Egg base
posted by obscurator at 7:44 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Installing Linux on a Dead Badger.
posted by griphus at 7:46 AM on July 19, 2012 [20 favorites]


How to fix your broken aglet.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:55 AM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've got a first-gen iPad with a completely shattered glass that is held together only by the screen protector and some carefully applied packing tape. (hint do not put iPad on roof of car and then drive away). Works fine but the experience is a bit like reading through cobwebs. I've been dithering about whether I have the courage to try replacing the glass for literally a year now.

Probably by the time I make up my mind about that I can just get an iPad 4 instead.
posted by ook at 8:02 AM on July 19, 2012


I used a YouTube video to replace the glass on a Blackberry whatever my kid had unit. He sat on it the 11th day he had it. If you follow the video, it goes smooth as silk.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:05 AM on July 19, 2012


I have attempted this, and I can state with certainty that it was the most difficult repair I've ever attempted; not only are the screws super small, thus necessitating a special screwdriver, there are places where you have to pry glue out. Can't stress this enough: things can go wrong quite a bit.

All a far cry from my previous phone, the Nokia E71, a phone so sturdy that it has been working without a hitch even after I once dropped it onto a tarmac. Been four years; my brother still uses it on a regular basis.

(Not that Nokia is surrounding itself with glory on this anymore; while its current flagship, Nokia Lumia 800, is a beauty to operate and is extremely hardy, it's impossible to repair; there's no way you can even remove the battery, for instance. Believe me, I've tried.)
posted by the cydonian at 8:08 AM on July 19, 2012


I recently replaced the glass/sensor on my iPad 2, and it was a bit hair-raising, but ultimately a very interesting experience. Much cheaper than paying to have it done by someone else. Not something I'd recommend to a ham-fisted idiot, but if you can work methodically and slowly.

The new glass works perfectly. I've offered to replace the glass on a friend's android tablet next week. I find it very encouraging that, no matter how hard the manufacturers try to make things unserviceable, enterprising people always seem to find a way.
posted by pipeski at 8:15 AM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just try not drop my device into an industrial shredder and so far, everything is copacetic. My cat, on the other hand, helpfully knocked my iPhone 4 off a table onto a tile floor on a cement slab, and except for a few scratches, the phone is fine.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:17 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Take note: the iPhone 3G/3GS are built in exactly this way, and are "moderately" easy to repair. An iPhone 4 or newer, however, is built completely differently, where you would have to remove the ENTIRE guts of the phone to get at the screen/glass assembly, and that basically needs to be replaced as a whole unit: the LCD screen/metal frame/front glass are basically permanently glued together in a way hobbyists should probably not attempt to separate.

Unfortunately, I'd have to recommend anyone with an iPhone 4 or newer to have the repair done with apple if at all, which is disappointing because I am very much a tinkerer who likes to be able to fix his own things (The new retina macbook pro breaks my heart, but that's another story).

PS - I've replaced the front glass on my old iPhone 3G, and I would recommend buying the entire glass "assembly" with the metal frame, to avoid having to deal with un-gluing and re-gluing the glass front to the frame.
posted by Nutri-Matic Drinks Synthesizer at 8:24 AM on July 19, 2012


Ain't seeing any photos for installing Linux on a dead badger, but a photo tutorial exists for beavers.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:28 AM on July 19, 2012


I tried fixing mine following online instructions. It was certainly finicky. The instructions were pretty good, but kind of glossed over a particular step (you have to lever up a tiny plastic connector cover in a particular direction before disconnecting a wire) where I made a tiny mistake which completely bricked the phone :-(
posted by idb at 8:41 AM on July 19, 2012


Then please take the money you would have spent to go do something nice for someone.

My phone is encased in rubber to prevent this, which means I can spend all the money I like on fair-trade heroin.
posted by mippy at 8:44 AM on July 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't know anyone who owns an iphone who hasn't broken the screen at least once.
If a small percentage of users break their products, that's bad luck.
If most of them break their product, that's bad design.

Dieter Rams, the designer who Apple are famously so fond of copying said:
Good design is long-lasting.

Makers Manifesto: If you can't open it, you don't own it.
posted by Drew Glass at 9:18 AM on July 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


I could pay 20 bucks for stuff and spend a few finicky hours trying to change a screen while watching a youtube video, hoping that there's no stray cat fur or whatever else will make it an even bigger pain, or I could pay an extra 50$ and have someone fix it for me. I'm lucky that I have the money to choose, because my time and stress is worth more than that.
posted by jeather at 9:22 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


the cydonian: Not that Nokia is surrounding itself with glory on this anymore; while its current flagship, Nokia Lumia 800, is a beauty to operate and is extremely hardy, it's impossible to repair; there's no way you can even remove the battery, for instance.

Throwaway culture is typical for technology companies, forcing people into the upgrade model. The really durable goods are exceptions, not the norm. Also really durable goods cost more, or weigh more, or both.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:22 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know anyone who owns an iphone who hasn't broken the screen at least once.

Most of my friends and relatives have iPhones and the only one who has ever had a broken screen is the irresponsible one who doesn't have to pay for the replacement phone. *shrugs*
posted by entropicamericana at 9:24 AM on July 19, 2012


You can do this, but honestly your housing will never go back together exactly the way it was before. It'll always look a little off, or maybe even loose if you don't have it done by a professional or someone who knows what they're doing (and are familiar with the guts of small computer devices.)

The first time replacing a screen yourself is always going to look the worst. Just FYI.

Also, I'm not really sure why this was posted here. Is there something particularly special about it?
posted by Malice at 9:28 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Listen up everyone.

Here in Key West, people call me a genius because I repair—among other computery things—iphones. Of course, I disagree. All I am is patient.

But regardless, there are some very basic things to keep in mind when repairing iphones. Here they are.

First, it's fun. It really is. At least for the 3G and 3Gs it is. Those two iphones are practically the VW of iphones. Yes, their are small parts. That's okay.

Second, some people do indeed still use (first-generation) 2G iphones. They are very durable. Unfortunately, they were all what appears to be hand-made. Seriously. Repairing parts on 2G iphones is as simple as repairing any remote-controlled car that has been dropped to concrete from two floors. My recommendation is to send it off to professionals if it really matters or don't bother (unless for "fun"*).

Third, when you are planning on repairing these things—and you can, trust me on this, you CAN do it—give yourself 2 hours and a nice, clean preferably flat, white space. There is no rush. Rushing = breaking parts and diminishing of ego.

Fourth, get OEM parts. I buy most my parts off eBay. I only buy from sellers who have sold hundreds or thousands of the exact same part. It costs about $10 for a replacement OEM 3G or 3Gs glass and about $13 for replacement OEM LCD. Or $30 for the combination of the two already built into frame.

Fifth, get a heat gun. Not only are they cool in a laser-gun-from-the-future kind of silly way, they make this process just so, SO much more fun and easy.

Sixth, the right tools. The glass or LCD usually comes with some "tools". While the suction cup on a key ring definitely is useful, the plastic "pry tool" [sic] is useless. USELESS. I use a decent tiny flat-head and a decent tiny philips. And they are magnetized. Which may or may not be the best choice but the screws are very very small so this comes in most handy.

Seventh, if you LCD is NOT broken, be careful! These are easy to crack. In fact, you may want to order a spare replacement just in case. Cracking one of these during your first repair is one of the most humbling and damnable experiences. You will shriek, scream, curse, cry, hate yourself and feel inadequate. Get the spare.

Eighth, there are very few experiences known to humankind as satisfying as successfully repairing an iphone. There is a sense you are communing with the spirit of Steve Jobs. You will brag about it. You should. You didn't fix the floatee thing in the back of your toilet, you repaired an iphone. You are the real thing. Step aside haters, you are officially RTFW.

So now the bad news. All that was (mostly) about the 3G OR 3Gs. As I explained, the 2G is a hobbyist's nightmare/dream come true. But I didn't mention the 4 or 4s.

That was for a reason. If the 2G was some kind of glorified build-your-own-radio science kit that also happened to work, and the 3G and 3Gs were VW Bugs, the 4 is a German-engineered, high-performance automobile. It is the new VW Bug.

The first time I broke a relatively brand new 4, I sobbed. $600 phhhtt. The next one I went in, I was like a church mouse. It took four hours. That wasn't a repair; that was surgery.

These are brilliantly designed iPhones. These are works of engineering marvel. These are not for amateurs. Nowadays I pay some young iPhone jock to do the work for me. He only works on iPhone 4 and 4s'. That's all he does. And he is busier than you can imagine. Non-stop. (Remember, we are in Key West. The nearest Apple store is 4 hours up US-1 to the mainland.) In other words, do not bother working or attempting to repair your iphone 4 or 4s. It is a far better choice to pay someone $100 cash and have it back in an hour (going rate across the nation) than to suffer through the torment of knowing it was you who killed your iphone.

And that's it. Have fun. I am waiting for the highly-anticipated iPhone 5. However, if it isn't The Most Fabulous Phone Ever Invented (or close to it) I'm switching to an Android.

*Not fun. Unless you are really, really geeky.
posted by Mike Mongo at 9:34 AM on July 19, 2012 [25 favorites]


I don't know anyone who owns an iphone who hasn't broken the screen at least once.

You have some pretty ham-fisted friends, then. Of all my dozens of i-gadget-owning acquaintances (including my wife, who is on her second iPhone) I know of exactly one person who has broken any glass screen. And that was my wife's boss who accidentally drove over her iPad.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:51 AM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I really wish it was possiblt to have all the features of the 4s in the body of the 1st gen iphone. That thing was built like a tank. I remember my roommate coming home with a brand new 3gs, and just as he was used to doing when he came home every day with his 2g, tossed it on the table from a few feet away and broke the glass. Based on that, I skipped that entire generation.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:16 AM on July 19, 2012


I'd pay someone the full going rate of (locally) 70.00 and consider it a bargain.
posted by tatiana131 at 10:20 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, seriously, seconding Thorzdad. My toddler regularly (like, everyday) gets holds of my iPhone and throws it as hard as he can onto the floor when he's done chewing on it. And it's fine. I have it in an Otterbox Commuter, so that's probably a big part of it, but really, they're pretty tough. My husband also has an iPhone in a not-very-protective case (he has the beefy Otterbox Defender but took it off after 2 weeks because he found it too bulky) and he is hard on it and it's still fine after 2 years.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:47 AM on July 19, 2012


I'm pretty sure the main thing that cracks screen is dropping it from height directly on the edge of the glass. A bumper or case completely prevents that. If I didn't have that, I'm sure I would have a cracked screen by now.
posted by smackfu at 10:53 AM on July 19, 2012


That's a 1st Gen iPhone, isn't it? Does anyone still have one of those?

I do. Not a scratch on it. Before this I had a StarTac.

Main problem is that it goes from a full charge to a dead battery during the course of one single phone call.

I'm waiting for WP8 to get a new phone
posted by Ad hominem at 11:02 AM on July 19, 2012


Good thing it is only 30 steps (which you then need to do in reverse, so 60) to replace an iPhone 4 screen. Just pay someone $50 to do it if you're not sure what you're doing.
posted by Brian Puccio at 11:24 AM on July 19, 2012


Who are these people who don't armor the crap outta their phones? Does it somehow detract from the hipness quotient? Every new device I get I up-armor it til it resembles an M1A2 Abrams and so far I've never had a single cracked screen/case/whatever. And all my phones seem to suffer as much airtime as the original Wright brothers' Flyer at Kitty Hawk. Over tile and concrete floors. And as impromptu spider squishers. Paperweights overcome by mild gusts sent hurtling off car hoods.

tbh, I'm currently as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs because I'm waiting on protective cases and screen protectors for both my new Samsung Galaxy SIII and Nexus 7. They're both wrapped in protective swaddling and sitting in the creche by my desk.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 11:28 AM on July 19, 2012


And, here's the problems with an FPP that is essentially a single-link Instructable:

There are already better-focused sites for these discussions, where people are liable to go (via search engines) if they actually want this information. Here, we get "I'd never try it!" and "Why don't you just pay the repair guy?", which really don't add much to the conversation.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:53 AM on July 19, 2012


Who are these people who don't armor the crap outta their phones?

People who aren't Batman, medieval knights, and/or active military in a combat zone. I don't know about the hipness quotient, but bulky cases detract from the design and usability.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:56 AM on July 19, 2012


The repair-guy in that video was wearing an Aggie Ring, so, I mean, I just assumed this isn't for amateurs.
posted by resurrexit at 11:59 AM on July 19, 2012


I'm pretty sure the main thing that cracks screen is dropping it from height directly on the edge of the glass.

I would've assumed it was from sitting on it while it was in your back pocket.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:46 PM on July 19, 2012


I have actually opened up my iPad 2 to repair a blank screen. There are YouTube videos to walk you through the process*. Opening up an iPhone only looks slightly more complicated. The problem is that Apple makes this more troublesome than it has to be by gluing the thing shut. In any case, I suggest that you let the battery run down completely first before opening it. I explain why later.

Some notes about what I went through along the way follow. Of course your experience may be different I am not affiliated with Apple I am not liable if you mess something up blah blah blah. I would at least do a lot of Googling around to find out as much as you can about the process first. Opening an iPad isn't rocket science but because of that damn glue it isn't as simple as opening your PC either.

1. The iPad 1 was held together with clips, much like a Mac Mini. The iPad 2 is glued shut however, and you'll probably need a heat gun to open it. (Not having one of these at hand, I borrowed one from a relative. Thanx go out to Uncle Leran.) There is a thin cushion between the LCD screen and the digitizer along the edges, it would be good to avoid damaging this as it's prone to little bits coming off and getting between them, resulting later in specks in the screen. (Also while trying this, try not to touch either the back of the digitizer screen or the front of the LCD, since these surfaces are prone to picking up fingerprints.)

2. There are only two cables to worry about when opening it, but we severed the digitizer cable accidentally when opening it, necessitating a replacement. (~$60, still much less than the $250 Apple would ask for to fix/replace it.)

3. Inside, the screws used in the construction are thankfully all Phillips. No funky, stupid security screws. (Yes, Torx are terrible and stupid. If you try to argue otherwise to me in the typical "Really the are right and necessary if you think about it" fashion then screw you.)

4. Despite what many people above have said, about iPhones at least, the iPad does look like it was made for people to service it once it is open, with multiple zero insertion force latches connecting cables on its logic board and facilitating easy replacement. The screen problem went away once the thing was open (and after the digitizer cable was broken, natch).

5. After replacing the digitizer and reseating the video cable the backlight was dead. This sent me into a panic, but it turns out that the light frequently automatically turns off if the video cable is replaced. This is why you let the battery run down completely first -- in my case, the backlight came alive again but only after the battery drained entirely. I didn't know this would happen beforehand and none of the videos or instruction pages I had said mentioned it. This comment is part of my attempt to contribute, by getting the word out and into the Google Brain. Since the iPad wasn't being used it was asleep all that time, and it took a surprising amount of time for the battery to drain. If I was doing this now, I would have used my wireless keyboard's Play button to start the podcast player and drain it much faster.

6. Getting it back together is tricky. I taped mine shut using clear, strong tape on each side, which is surprisingly difficult to see and facilitates opening it again later. Most videos suggest using two-sided tape inside it to reseal the device.

My point is, don't be afraid of your devices. I am far from the most knowledgeable hardware guy around and I did this. If it's broken to the point of unuseability you can either reward Apple by getting a new phone or paying them half its cost for a new one while contributing to the disposable product culture that's helping to destroy our world or you can try this first. I don't think I would do this if the problem was merely a scratched or even slightly cracked screen, but my device was unuseable without the screen and I couldn't afford to have Apple fix it.

* The surprising number of these videos is rather suspicious. When I got my replacement digitizer in the mail, the place I ordered it from offered to charge back $50 on my card if I filmed and narrated the process of replacing the part and posted it on YT with a link to their site. I didn't do this, which is a good thing since I didn't know the backlight had deactivated itself and it would have appeared to be documented video fail. Most of those YouTube videos, I notice, have links to one or another place that sells iPad parts....
posted by JHarris at 12:54 PM on July 19, 2012


Although I loathe Apple with a vengeance,

I totally understand not buying Apple products, but how does that turn into loathing? And with a vengeance, no less. Just curious.

I do know a couple of people who have broken iPhone screens, but that's out of probably 50 or 60 I know who have them. None of my friends or family have broken one.

If I did break one, I'd have the screen replaced, personally, but I did open up an old mac mini to increase the ram. You have to use a putty knife to get the cover off...
posted by Huck500 at 1:04 PM on July 19, 2012


bulky cases detract from the design and usability

I dunno, entropicamericana, wouldn't you agree that design and usability kind of go out the window when your phone is rendered unusable due to an easily preventable cracked case/screen?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 1:18 PM on July 19, 2012


I dunno, entropicamericana, wouldn't you agree that design and usability kind of go out the window when your phone is rendered unusable due to an easily preventable cracked case/screen?

I would agree, that's why I don't crack my case/screen. I honestly don't know what these people are doing with their phones-- using them as clay pigeons in skeet shooting, maybe?
posted by entropicamericana at 1:25 PM on July 19, 2012


I've done this with my 3G last year. I wish I'd used a heat gun instead of my wife's hair drier to melt the glue, because it took forever.

I also wish I'd worn gloves, because there is now a permanent fingerprint on the inside of the screen.
posted by RakDaddy at 1:31 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


using them as clay pigeons in skeet shooting

The imagery of some poor apple fanboi sobbing as he is forced to call out "Pull!" and then shooting his beloved iOS whosit is...delicious.

/not fanboist. Well, not much.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 1:45 PM on July 19, 2012


I honestly don't know what these people are doing with their phones-- using them as clay pigeons in skeet shooting, maybe?

This just seems silly... do you really have such faith in the iPhone that you would be willing drop it without a case onto a concrete floor from chest height? That's the simple and easy way most phone screens get broken, by someone dropping them.
posted by smackfu at 1:58 PM on July 19, 2012


I am literally the klutziest person I know and I have never dropped my phone on concrete.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:07 PM on July 19, 2012


I have dropped my ipod onto just about every surface I ever walk on with exactly zero damage and it broke just sitting in my purse one day. Not that I'm bitter and just spent 70$ letting someone replace the screen for me or anything.
posted by jeather at 5:06 PM on July 19, 2012


I dropped my phone off a truck seat and cracked the back within two days of getting a new iphone. I have owned many phones and dropped them rarely but never had them break. I was quite disappointed. I hadn't bought a case because all the ones I saw in person were ugly and/or expensive and I was debating where to get one online.

Now I have an ugly case which holds the glass together. I assume because it's the back, I don't have to worry about switching out the glass although this looks kind of fun.
posted by hydrobatidae at 7:05 PM on July 19, 2012


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