For almost a year now we’ve been waiting for the cost of an iPhone 5 screen replacement part to drop to a reasonable price. That has finally happened. At first glance, you might not think that price is reasonable (about $100 at the time of this writing and falling) but it’s cheap compared to what it was in early June – when it cost almost $200.
This recent price drop is great news for anyone that has the misfortune of dropping their iPhone 5 and cracking the front glass. It means that you now have a reasonably priced option to get your iPhone fixed.
In fact, you have 3 different options at this point.
1. Go to Apple
Apple can definitely take care of a broken screen for you. The advantage of this approach is that you’ll keep the warranty on your iPhone 5 (assuming you still have one). The disadvantage is the price and possible hassle.
There have been a number of people talking about a $149 in-store repair cost but it’s hard to get Apple to commit to that over the phone. In addition, there isn’t anything on the Apple website at this time talking about it. The only thing I’ve been able to find on their website is their $229 out-of-warranty service (the warranty is automatically voided if you break your iPhone’s screen). This out-of-warranty service isn’t an actual repair. What Apple does is give you a refurbished phone and keeps yours.
I can’t guarantee this but my guess is that if you schedule with the Genius Bar online and expect the $149 in-store repair it’s very possible you will end up with the $229 out-of-warranty option. My suggestion would be to call Apple before going down this road.
2. Try to Fix it Yourself
Another possibility is to fix the screen yourself. This is the cheapest route but there are some things to be aware of. First, you don’t want to buy the cheap glass lens. This is just a piece of glass without any LCD attached to it for about $5-$10. Unless you have serious expertise, you’ll have a hard time removing the broken glass from your LCD. It’s possible, but the LCD is super fragile and it’s not easy to do. Trust me, I’ve done this and it required really thin piano wire, tightly controlled heating, and extreme caution. Just don’t do this.
Instead, if you’re going the do-it-yourself option, stick with a full screen assembly from Amazon – one that includes the glass and the LCD already glued together. The reason I recommend Amazon is because they rate the actual part and not the seller. You might find it slightly cheaper on eBay but there are ways to game the eBay ranking system. An additional tip: Get it from a US supplier (assuming you’re in the US). That way you’ll get the screen much faster and it will be easier to deal with any problems. Plus it might be easier to get technical support, but I wouldn’t count on much help from your seller – they have thin margins and generally don’t like doing support.
A few things you’ll also need to make this work:
- A good Youtube video of the repair.
- A pentalobe screwdriver for the bottom two screws.
- A small flat-bladed screwdriver or metal spudger for prying the screen off the frame. Don’t believe people trying to sell you plastic case opening tools for this job – they won’t work. The iPhone 5 frame is too tight for that.
- A magnetized, #00 Phillips screwdriver for removing a few screws inside the phone.
Be extra cautious when releasing the three connectors from the screen to the motherboard. It’s not hard, but I’ve heard of people accidentally chipping some of the small components that sit next to those connectors. If that happens, your motherboard will not work any longer and you’ll be looking to drop $500-$800 hundred dollars on a brand new iPhone 5 (that’s what they cost if you’re already under contract).
In short, doing the repair yourself is not horribly difficult with a little practice or experience. Unfortunately, if you’re fixing your own iPhone, you don’t get a second chance to do it right. So make sure you have all the right tools, a steady hand, and take your time.
A 3rd Party Option
I’ve written before about DIY vs 3rd party repair companies. The bottom line for the iPhone 5 is this: Right now the parts are running about $100 online (that will probably continue to drop) and most reputable repair shops are charging somewhere between $139 – $159. That repair should include all the necessary parts, labor, and some kind of warranty. In addition, if you bring it into a local store, they should be able to do it for you in about 30-45 minutes. Through the mail, they should be able to turn it around for you in under a day.
That’s a pretty small premium to pay to make sure it’s done right.
Beware the guy on Craigslist or the local laptop repair shop claiming they can do this for you. They might, but you should make sure they have a website, some good Yelp reviews, and offer some kind of guarantee that the repair will work. Ask them their policy if they mess something up, too. We’ve had more than a few people show up at our stores with a phone that was super glued together by some other company (in case you’re wondering, super glue should never be used on an iPhone).
There are a some really good repair shops out there but there’s a lot of bad ones, too. So do your homework before selecting a 3rd party shop.
I know it might sound self-serving but on the iPhone 5, I really think this is the best option. Why? Because for an extra $40-$50, you’ll save yourself a ton of hassle and guarantee that it’s done right.
Now for a shameless plug…
JCD Repair is on the lower end of that pricing spectrum and higher end in terms of quality (just check out a couple of our Yelp pages here and here). We’re currently offering our iPhone 5 repair for $139. We’ll continue to lower that price as our cost for the part goes down. For that price you get the parts and labor. We offer a 6 month warranty with all of our repairs. Lastly, if you bring it into our Chicago, Seattle, or Madison, WI stores; you’ll have it fixed in about 30 minutes.