What to do with a broken Android screen

Dropped your Android device? Here are you options for fixing that cracked screen.

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Josh Miller

Many Android phones are a bit more durable than iPhones, but that doesn't mean they're immune to damage. Phone screens are made of glass, after all, and glass breaks when you drop it.

So. You dropped your Android phone for the 60th time and you now have a beautiful spider web pattern blooming across your home screen. If you don't have month-to-month phone insurance, here are your options for getting it fixed -- or dealing with it.

Hit up the manufacturer

If your Android device is relatively new (read: still under manufacturer's warranty), the first place you'll want to go for your phone fix is the manufacturer. The price for a broken screen will vary depending on your device, but for a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge you're probably looking at around $270 plus a day or two without your device. Going to the manufacturer is almost always going to be more expensive than a third-party repair shop, but your warranty will stay intact and your phone will be fully restored (possibly even replaced with a fully refurbished model) to its pre-broken-screen excellence (and waterproof phones, like the Galaxy S7 Edge($399.99 at Amazon.com), will retain their waterproof status).

Samsung owners might want to consider purchasing Samsung Protection Plus -- it's like Apple Care, but for your Galaxy phone. Samsung Protection Plus is an extended warranty available for all of Samsung's high-end smartphones that covers everything from mechanical breakdowns to accidental damage (e.g., broken screens). It costs between $99 and $129 for two years of protection -- during those two years, you'll get two accidental damage claims per year and you'll pay a $79 deductible per incident. So one broken screen replacement on the Galaxy S7 Edge will cost you $208.

If you have a Google Pixel, Google has paired up with third-party repair chain uBreakiFix to offer walk-in screen repairs for the relatively affordable price of $129 for the Pixel($64.97 at Amazon.com) and $149 for the Pixel XL. uBreakiFix has locations in the US, Canada, and Trinidad and Tobago, and they also offer mail-in repairs with free ground shipping. Like Samsung and Apple, Google offers a Device Protection Plan for the Pixel and the Pixel XL. The Device Protection Plan costs $99 for two years' worth of coverage, and covers up to two incidents of accidental damage (but you'll pay a deductible for each incident -- $79 for the Pixel and $99 for the Pixel XL). In other words, one broken Pixel screen will cost you $178, while one broken Pixel XL screen will cost you $198.

If you have an HTC 10($382.49 at Amazon.com) -- and you bought it from HTC.com between April 29, 2016, and April 29, 2017 -- your phone is eligible for HTC's Uh Oh Protection plan. Uh Oh Protection will repair or replace your HTC 10 one time (within the first 12 months of ownership) if the screen breaks, or if there's damage due to water/moisture, extreme thermal or environmental conditions, corrosion or oxidation. HTC will even send you a replacement device before you send in your damaged phone (within one business day), but you'll have to agree to a $599 credit card hold until HTC receives your device.

Get it fixed by a third-party repair shop

If your Android device is older (out of warranty) or a less popular model, you'll probably be able to save money by going to a third-party repair shop. I called a few local repair shops in the Los Angeles area and got quotes for between $100 and $250 for a Samsung Galaxy S5($349.99 at Amazon.com) screen replacement.

There are a couple of benefits -- aside from price -- to using a third-party repair service. If you go to a local repair shop, they'll be able to fix your phone quickly (some in less than an hour; one local LA shop even offered to come right to my apartment and fix it on the spot), which means you won't be stuck without a phone. Most third-party repair shops also offer a warranty on the parts they replace, which means you can call them if your replacement screen stops working for any reason (aside from, you know, dropping it and breaking it again).

Some places will also offer a slightly lower price for repairing broken glass (as opposed to broken glass and a broken LCD) -- uBreakiFix, for example, charges $180 to repair the glass on an LG G5($298.32 at Amazon Marketplace), and charges $200 to repair the glass and the LCD on the same phone.

All third-party repair shops are not created equal, so here's what you'll want to ask before you hand over your device:

  • How much will it cost?
  • How long will it take?
  • What type of warranty do you offer? (Parts and service, or parts only/service only? Limited or lifetime?)

Using a third-party repair service to fix your device's broken screen will almost certainly void your manufacturer's warranty, so if your phone is new it's best to first check out the manufacturer's quote. Some new phones, like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, are very difficult to repair, so you may find that the manufacturer has a better price than any reputable third-party service.

Deal with it

Assuming your device's broken screen isn't drastically interfering with your ability to use your phone, or making your fingers bleed, you may want to just ride out the cracks until you get a new phone (or until it does make your fingers bleed). To make your device last as long as possible, cracks and all, I suggest putting it in a sturdy, shockproof case, because any bumps or drops could cause more damage. If the cracks on the screen cross usable area, you may also want to look into a glass screen protector -- to protect your fingers from cuts and to protect your screen from more damage.

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