The Cost of Replacing a Cracked Screen

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Ouch! As is often the case when accidents strike, my better half was in a rush, carrying a small pile of books with her smartphone on top when she slipped and the phone went flying off onto the floor. Crrrack! I'd soon find out the small accident carries a sizable price...

Cracked smartphone screens are as common as car dings and dents, but considering the size vs. cost, it seems repairing a smartphone after cracking a screen can cost a whole lot more than their automotive small repair equivalents. It was bound to eventually happen, considering neither of us had ever cracked or broken a phone since the days of candy bar/flip feature models. Eventually the smartphone gods demand a screen sacrifice...this is known.

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The first place I checked for repair options was eBay, searching for replacement screens. My hopes were lifted when I discovered Samsung Galaxy Note 2 replacement screens are a very reasonable $16.00-19.00 for the parts.

But after watching numerous YouTube videos and reading an endless amount of reader comments, I soon realized finding replacement parts was really the easy part. First timers will find disassembly requires several hours, specialized tools, the patience of a Benedictine monk, the steady hands of a jewel thief, and ideally a space without errant pet hair floating every which way like our own apartment. And even then, a few people made mention their results were far from pristine and if given the chance again, they'd just pay for someone else to do it. If you're curious what screen surgery and replacement entails, here's a British gent who knows what he's doing showing the onerous process:


Next, I called one of those professional smartphone repair shops I've been seeing popping up all over the city about a repair job. UBreakIFix's name says it all, and so does the $199.00 screen repair price. They promise a fast turnaround, usually no longer than the next day depending upon how much of the screen is damaged, alongside a 90 day warranty. But the almost $200 before tax is a bitter pill to swallow. iFixYoui's repair quote is even more expensive at $249.00, with professional repair shops making a tidy profit on their expertise and quick turnaround.

There's some good news not applicable nor specific to my situation, but notable nonetheless: Apple just announced they'll be offering $149 in-store iPhone 5 screen replacements for non-Apple Care covered customers. This is a big improvement, as previously Apple Stores would simply swap out damaged iPhones and give refurbished devices at a cost of $229 to those without Apple Care coverage.

For $10 less, Quick iFix will repair the front glass for iPhone 5's and $84.99 for the iPhone 4S, both with same day repair, and same/next day return delivery.

I haven't decided yet what to do with the cracked screen Galaxy Note 2. Emily is still using the phone, such is her love of the gigantic phablet and it's top notch Google apps integration. I've found one repair shop all the way out in Savannah offering a reasonable $129/front glass-only repair (the digitizer is intact, otherwise replacing both would set you back $275.00). I may roll the dice and give it a go with the DIY repair route, as I've disassembled computers and digital cameras for repairs and upgrades in the past, but this would be my first smartphone repair project.

All I know is next time I'm making sure I apply a screen protection applique, throwing on a protective case, and playing hall monitor so she doesn't run with scissors or smartphone in hand.

(Image: Gregory Han)

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