Best options for fixing cracked iPhone screens


If you haven't cracked the screen of your smartphone, count yourself lucky. You probably know at least two people who have. So, do you swipe the broken glass till you are eligible for an upgrade or is there an affordable way to get it fixed? We took a look at the best ways to repair your screen.

It's one of the most horrifying moments for any smartphone user -- in a split second, the phone comes loose and you watch it crash to the ground.

"I had my phone and my keys and I'm rushing to my car," said Megan Sinclair. "All you think is no, no, no, no, don't let it happen. It breaks your heart."

Sinclair showed us her brand new iPhone after she peeled it off the concrete, its perfect screen now hopelessly shattered.

Everywhere you go, someone has a horror story about how their phone's screen got shattered.

Teenager Marjorie Berend of Pacifica smashed her second iPhone, but made out OK anyway. She got an upgrade for herself and gave the old phone to dad.

"Yes it's not cool to have a cracked screen," said Berend's father.

So, what's the best way to fix a phone.

"The cheapest method if you want to get your phone repaired is to find a third party that's reputable," said tech expert Brian Tong of CNET.

Tong says you could do it yourself, but it is complicated. The screen is not just a cover, it operates your phone. Instead, he recommends finding a good repair shop.

"This one probably fell pretty hard," said Andy Patel of Cupertino Phone Repair.

Patel shows us how he replaces the screen in an iPhone 4S. He uses a tiny tool to remove more than thirty tiny screws, the size of a grain of sand.

"We have to take apart basically the whole thing," said Patel.

"For the most part, they know what they're doing. They do it over and over and over," said Tong.

So how much will you pay to repair a screen? We surveyed twenty Bay Area locations and found repairing an iPhone 4 or 4S costs an average of $65. A new iPhone 5 screen averages $110. Repairs for the iPhone 5S and 5C ranged from $150 to $195, though few shops are fixing the newest phones.

However, be warned. If you fix your iPhone at one of these independent shops, Apple will void your iPhone warranty.

"'You went to a third party and we're no longer associated with your phone,'" said Berend.

Apple would not tell us anything about its repair services. We went with Berend to an Apple store in San Francisco.

Here's what the technicians told us: the stores do not repair an iPhone 4 or 4s, but for $199 they will give you a refurbished phone. They will replace screens on the iPhone 5 or 5C for $149, or $79 if you have the AppleCare warranty.

Samsung Galaxy phones cost more to repair. The shops charge and average of $150 for the Galaxy S3, and $190 for the Galaxy S4.

Tong says, don't use the cheapest services. He told us, "Even if it costs a little more, let's say $60 or $70 versus $30, the parts that I'm getting will be better."

That brings us back to Andy -- he charged $69 to fix this iPhone 4 and then tested it. He said everything was working just like new.

Only a few shops are doing repairs right now on the newest iPhones and Galaxies. Even Apple will not yet repair the more expensive iPhone 5S. However, it should have that service available soon. The bottom line is to buy a good case.

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