How much will my broken smartphone screen cost to repair?

Alex Kidman 21 June 2017

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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.

Update 21 June 2017: We've updated this guide to reflect the realities of fixing your smartphone's screen in 2017.

So you’ve just dropped your phone, and you're panicking about having to buy a whole new device.

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 broken phone screen yourself.

For the purposes of comparison, we’re going to assume that you’ve smashed the screen of an Apple iPhone 7. It's a popular phone, which means that there's a lot of competition for third-party replacement parts, and that means that pure hardware costs are relatively low. Apple doesn't sell spare iPhone parts itself, but then no smartphone manufacturer does, so if you opt to go down the DIY route you're automatically looking at using third party components.

A replacement iPhone 7 screen part on eBay at the time of writing will run from around $100 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.

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 and the resultant warranty issues that may come with it. iFixit’s guide to replacing the iPhone 7 screen is comprehensive if you’re inclined to go down the DIY route.

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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 ModelScreen only with AppleCare+Screen and additional damage with AppleCare+Screen only without AppleCare+ or out of warrantyScreen 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 7$45$149.00$208.95$478.95
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
iPhone 4sNot AvailableNot AvailableNot Available$308.95

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. All of the major telcos offer phone insurance schemes as detailed below.

Optus

Optus Device Protect covers mobile phones and tablets. If your device is stolen, lost, accidentally damaged or suffers an electronic breakdown or failure that is not covered by warranty, it will be repaired or replaced. This policy covers you anywhere in the world.

Device Protect
How much it costsWhat it coversWhat is not coveredOther costsMaximum cover
$14 per monthTheft, loss, accidental damage, electronic breakdown or failureScratches, fire, loss of data, intentional damage, wear and tear$100 excess for damage claims, $200 excess for loss and theft claimsLimit is $2,000, including up to $600 for reimbursement of unauthorised calls

Telstra

Telstra offers two smartphone insurance policies: StayConnected and StayConnected Plus.

StayConnected
How much it costsWhat it coversWhat is not coveredConditions and other costsMaximum cover
$13 per monthReplacement or exchange of your device for any valid reasonThose whose bills are not paid up to date$100 service fee for non-smartphones, $140 fee for smartphones, $180 fee for tablets and large smartphonesNo limits apply
StayConnected Plus
How much it costsWhat it coversWhat is not coveredConditions and other costsLimits and additional benefits
$13 per monthReplacement or exchange of your device for any valid reasonThose whose bills are not paid up to date$140 service fee for non-smartphones, $190 fee for smartphones and $220 fee for large smartphones and tabletsNo limits apply

Virgin Mobile

Phone insurance plans from Virgin Mobile cover both standard handsets and smartphones against loss, damage or theft.

Virgin Mobile phone insurance
How much it costsWhat it coversWhat is not coveredConditions and other costsMaximum cover
$9.95 per monthRepair and replacement of equivalent model if lost, damaged or stolen. Up to $500 for replacement device if lost/stolen while travellingMore than one claim per month, theft from an unlocked vehicle, fire damage, claims where you are able to claim benefits from a different party$200 for full phone replacement, $125 for screen repair, $75 for replacement of phones worth less than $200Up to $5,000 per claim (less the applicable excess)

Vodafone

Vodafone Keep Talking and Keep Talking Pro offers cover against damage, and in the case of Keep Talking Pro, loss and theft.

Cover Me
How much it costsWhat it coversWhat is not coveredConditions and other costsMaximum cover
$10 (Keep Talking)/ $15 (Keep Talking Pro) per monthKeep Talking: Accidental damage up to $500Keep Talking Plus: Accidental damage up to $500 plus device replacement if lost/stolen. Up to $300 for accessories or replacement device when travelling internationally.Any intentional damage, theft from an unsecured place, wear and tear or other deterioration, damage or loss when the phone was in the possession of a child under 14 on school grounds, any misuse of the deviceKeep Talking excess : $150 for accidental damage; replacement device not coveredKeep Talking Plus excess :$50-$125 for accidental damage repair, $75-$200 for refurbished replacement device, $125-$300 for new replacement device.Keep Talking: $500 less excess for accidental damage onlyKeep Talking Plus: $500 less excess for accidental damage.

$2,000 less excess for replacement/refurbished device if lost/stolen.

American Express also offers phone screen insurance as a bonus feature of its American Express Essential card, with the excess forming 10% of the claimed amount with a maximum repair cost of $500.


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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    SmritiAugust 1, 2016

    i am in Australia for a month.I accidentally dropped my phone(galaxy j7).display is not broken and sound system is perfect. But display is not working. its blank. So is it cheaper to buy new phone or repair that one. its new phone.

    • Staff
      BrodieAugust 3, 2016Staff

      Hi Smriti,

      I would recommend getting a quote for a repair at the very least. It is very likely the repair will cost more than the phone’s worth, but it’s always worth getting a second opinion.

      Cheers,
      Brodie

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