The iPhone's screen is durable, but not invincible. An awkward fall, too much pressure and other unnatural impact can cause cracks in the optical glass that render the device unusable. When you're done cursing your buttery fingers and have traversed the stages of guilt, denial and acceptance, here are some productive means for dealing with a broken touchscreen:
Repair/replacement from Apple: $200-$250 The iPhone is covered under a standard limited one-year Apple warranty for manufacturer's defects, but is not eligible for AT&T's wireless phone insurance, which (for a $5 monthly fee) will provide replacement in the case of loss or theft, accidental physical or liquid damage or mechanical and electrical failure after the manufacturer's warranty period has expired.
An Apple FAQ states that if you own an iPhone and it requires service for any reason other than the battery (which costs $86 total to replace), Apple will repair your iPhone for the service fee listed below, plus $6.95 for shipping and handling:
- 4GB: $199
- 8GB: $249
Presumably this includes screen cracks, though Apple states "Service may not be available if your iPhone has been damaged due to accident or abuse."
We've received reports from some readers who had success having their iPhones with cracked screens replaced free of charge by geniuses at the Apple Store, but don't count on it. This type of replacement is likely only if it can be proven that the screen was damaged during routine use.
Do-it-yourself: $150-$200 tools and loss of your warranty Several third-party companies sell replacement iPhone screens, which include the LCD and associated components. PDAParts sells the complete replacement screen for $150 and has a how-to video for self-installation. iFixIt sells the display assembly for $200, and also sells all the required tools: Heavy-Duty Spudger, Metal Spudger, iPod Opening Tools, Spudger and a #00 Phillips Screwdriver. Installation is listed as "Difficult."
Note that by replacing the screen yourself, or having a third-party perform the repair, you may violate Apple's warranty. The warranty does not cover "damage caused by service (including upgrades and expansions) performed by anyone who is not a representative of Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider."
There's also credit card protection, an oft-overlooked option. For instance, American Express Gold Rewards Card includes a purchase protection plan that will repair or replace eligible items, or reimburse the amount you charged to the Card for covered items, up to $1000 per Occurrence, if they are stolen or accidentally damaged up to 90 days from the date of purchase.
[Image courtesy of Ficharker family on flickr]