How much will my broken smartphone screen cost to repair?
Accidentally dropped your smartphone? You don’t automatically have to buy a new one, but it's worth knowing how much to spend on a screen repair.
So you’ve just dropped your phone, and you’re panicking about having to buy a whole new phone.
First step: Calm down. It’s probably not that bad, because unless the screen was shattered as it went under the wheel of a steamroller, it’s a simple repair to sort out, although not always "cheap" depending on the make of your phone.
How long can I ignore it?
This is a variable question, depending naturally on the nature of the damage itself. Many phones will operate with a broken screen, although you are quite likely to find other people cringing as you swipe across its broken glass fragments. The reality with any damaged screen is that delaying a repair is just delaying the inevitable, as well as opening up the possibility of more extensive damage. A broken screen will be less water resistant and more likely to suffer additional damage if you drop it a second time, possibly damaging more expensive internal components along the way.
So you can take your chances and continue to use a smashed screen phone, but it's not wise for the health of both your fingers and the phone itself.
What you really need to do is get the phone repaired, and here you have a few choices to make.
DIY Screen repair
If you’re particularly keen -- or just cash-strapped but willing to take a few risks -- it’s entirely feasible to repair a smashed phone screen yourself.
For the purposes of comparison, we’re going to assume that you’ve smashed the screen of an Apple iPhone 6s, as there are plenty of sources for replacement parts and ways to manage a broken screen for that particular device. That doesn’t mean that if you own a different phone you’re out of luck; this just gives us a basis point around a relatively popular phone to work from.
A replacement screen part on eBay at the time of writing will run from around $120 to $150, which is a little cheaper than many repair places will offer to do the repair, but of course you’ve got to do the actual replacement work yourself.
If you’re using a different phone your pricing will vary, generally by age of the phone. Breaking an iPhone 7, for example, bumps that pricing up, whereas an iPhone 5 screen is a little cheaper.
Bear in mind that many online sourced parts are going to vary in overall quality, as well as shipping time, which could be a factor if you want to get your phone back up and running quickly. You will also need to factor in the cost of tools, although some outlets will sell you a complete phone screen repair kit that includes the needed screwdrivers and lifting tools to replace a smartphone screen.
There are plenty of online guides that will run you through the basics of screen repair, including telling you which tools you’ll need if you’re possessed of both the nerves of steel and will to go down that path.
It can be markedly cheaper to replace a screen yourself, but you’re also assuming all the risk for the repair. iFixit’s guide to replacing the iPhone screen is comprehensive if you’re inclined to go down the DIY route.
Screen repair: Paid options
Smartphones aren’t cheap, and it’s natural to have some trepidation when it comes to messing around with internal components. Equally, you might not have the time to fix your own phone, which means it’s time to hand it over to someone who does that for a living.
Keeping with our iPhone example, there is a set replacement strategy you can adopt if you want to ensure that you’re getting properly qualified parts, and that’s to take it directly to Apple. Apple will repair or replace -- and you don’t get any say in which it is -- broken iPhone screens at their Apple stores, as well as through the post if you don’t live close enough to an Apple store to make that a feasible option.
Apple’s pricing varies depending on whether or not you take out its AppleCare+ extended warranty service, which allows for up to two discounted screen repairs in a given year.
It’s worth remembering that AppleCare+ doesn’t supplant standard Australian consumer protections, so if your iPhone did develop an actual screen fault sans drop disaster, you’d be reasonably entitled to a repair at no cost, although you’d need to be able to absolutely prove that nothing otherwise untoward had happened to your device and that some kind of manufacturing fault was the cause of your screen woes.
At the time of writing, Apple’s screen repair service for iPhones is priced as follows
|iPhone Model||Screen only with AppleCare+||Screen and additional damage with AppleCare+||Screen only without AppleCare+ or out of warranty||Screen and additional damage without AppleCare+ or out of warranty|
|iPhone 7 Plus||$45||$149.00||$228.95||$518.95|
|iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s Plus||$45||$149.00||$228.95||$488.95|
|iPhone 6, iPhone 6s||$45||$149.00||$208.95||$448.95|
|iPhone SE, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5||$45||$149.00||$208.95||$408.95|
If you’re lucky enough to live close enough to one of Apple’s retail outlets, you can shave $19.95 off the asking price of a screen repair, because that’s what Apple charges for shipping and handling on screen repairs. If you’re carrying around an iPhone not listed in this table, however, you’re somewhat out of luck if you want an official repair, because Apple doesn’t offer that service for older devices. The best they’ll offer you is a replacement device at an out-of-warranty repair price, or, not surprisingly, a new device at full price.
The pricing table gives you a decent baseline to work from, because Apple’s pricing sits at the premium end of the scale. A mobile phone repair shop will be working from cheaper parts, so you should pay less than Apple's asking price if you didn't opt for the Applecare+ extended warranty. While many extended warranties are arguably poor value, given the pricing difference for higher-tier iPhones, there's some sense in perhaps opting for it in this case.
What about Smartphone screen insurance?
Smartphones are an expensive proposition, so it’s not surprising that you can get insurance for them.
It may be worth checking your household or business insurance to see if your smartphone is explicitly covered, or for that matter explicitly excluded from coverage in the case of breakage accidents. It’s also worth checking your excess payment in the event of a claim, as some policies may well have excesses that are more expensive than the screen repair in the first place.
Then there are the classes of insurance that deal explicitly with damage to smartphone screens. Both Optus and Telstra will offer you smartphone screen repair insurance as a paid extra, while holders of the American Express Essential card get coverage as an added extra. Here is how their relative deals compare:
|Telstra Premium Care Smart Cover||Optus Yes Cover||Virgin Insurance||Vodafone Cover Me||AMEX Smartphone Screen Protection|
|Excess||$75 for repairs, $150 for replacement and $250 for tablet and/or smartphone replacement||$50 for accidental damage, or electronic breakdown/failure or $150 for lost/stolen handsets||$200 for iPhone, $125 for all other handsets.||$125 for repair/refurbished replacement, $225 for new replacement and $300 for new replacement within first 90 days*||10% of the claimed amount|
|Coverage||Repair and replacement of equivalent model if lost, damaged or stolen, and unauthorised calls/data usage||Repair and replacement of equivalent model if lost, damaged or stolen, and unauthorised calls/data usage||Repair and replacement of equivalent model if lost, damaged or stolen||Repair or replacement of device if lost, damaged or stolen||Repair if device screen is damaged|
|Sum insured||$2,000 for mobile device repair or replacements||$2,000 for mobile device repair or replacements (less the applicable excess)||Up to $5,000 per claim (less the applicable excess)||Up to $2,000 per claim (less the applicable excess)||Up to $500|
|Accessory coverage||Up to $100 for accessories that are a part of or attached to the device||Up $600 for all associated accessories||Accessories included in sum insured||Up to $100 for all associated accessories||None|
|International coverage||Up to $500 for equivalent temporary replacement device and up to $100 for an emergency replacement||International coverage (limit not specified)||Up to $500 for equivalent temporary replacement device (within 14 days)||Up to $300 for equivalent temporary replacement device||Not specified|
*For devices over $600. Different charges apply for devices under $600.
Lead Picture: Stephen Heywood, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (image cropped)