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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

iPhone Cracked Glass Fix: Fail

A couple of weeks ago, on my birthday, I dropped my phone. It was not from a great height, and I had dropped my phone several times before, each time I picked up an undamaged phone. In this instance, I was very saddened to see that the glass had cracked. Perhaps "shattered" is a better word. I didn't let the event ruin the evening. After all, the phone was working just fine... I was sure I would be able to replace the glass.

When I visited the Apple store in downtown New York (in SoHo, on Prince Street), I was told immediately that cracked glass was not covered by the warranty, and I would have to pay $199 for a new phone. I was literally flabbergasted. My gast was flabbered. Not pretty.

Once I had my gast back in order and had cleaned up all the flabber, I pointed out that the phone was working just fine, all that needed to be replaced was a bit of glass. I spoke with a manager, and he said that Apple does not do parts replacement. What happens if I go home then find out that there was some other damage that was not apparent when the glass was fixed? I said, we deal with it then. If I get into a fender bender in my Honda Fit, Honda doesn't look at my car and say, "Bummer, we have to replace the whole thing."

"This isn't a car - it's a phone."
"It's not just a phone, it's a computer."

The next line was that it's just "easier" to replace the entire phone. I pointed out that it was not easier for me to pay $200 to replace it! And what a waste! To throw away an otherwise perfectly useful phone.

Ultimately, I checked in to see when I would be eligible for an upgrade to the 3GS for $200 (next May), and the manager showed me the web site of some businesses that offer services to replace the glass on a broken iPhone... for $200. I thanked the manager and informed him that I would be undertaking the task myself. The bit of glass can be purchased online for $30 and the tools for $5. This past Sunday I undertook the endeavor.

I laid out my tools as well as some other necessities: a pumpernickel bagel from Bergen Bagelsand a nice cup of Gorilla coffee. Away we go.

First off: on all of the YouTube tutorials, the phone were much less absolutely smashed than mine. Prying off the glass fa├žade is far more difficult when you don't even have an inch of unbroken space on your phone. Once you get in there, it's pretty interesting. It's like a desktop, but much smaller. After about 2 hours of work, I had replaced the glass and digitizer and put the phone back together.

Unfortunately, it would not turn on. That's how it seemed at least, but when I called it, the phone rang. I just couldn't answer it. It seems I didn't get the new glass/digitizer connected properly. My guess is this ribbon labeled 3. I think I pulled it off improperly and was not able to reestablish a good connection. Bummer.

I brought the phone and all the parts back to the Apple store... and was told the replacement would cost me $400. Seems I went off warranty by opening the phone. Yeah, I figured that, but the glass replacement wasn't covered by the warranty anyway! I lost my temper a bit, pointing out that the week before, a manager directed me to a service that would replace the glass for me. They gave in and replaced the phone for $199.

So, if the glass on your iPhone 3G is cracked, but everything else is working fine, and you are thinking about replacing the glass yourself... here are a few things to consider:

  • Even though cracked glass replacement is not covered by the warranty, if you attempt to replace it yourself, you will "go off warranty" and the cost of replacement will double.
  • You may very well succeed in replacing the glass. I screwed up somehow, and the glass was in especially bad shape... but you may have better luck.
  • If you try this and fail, perhaps the way around dealing with Apple's insane policy is to put the old glass back on, then throw it against a brick wall. And/or drive over it with a Humvee. Anything to cover your tracks. The tracks you left when you tried to salvage an otherwise perfectly useful phone from a landfill.


Greg said...

I like your attitude. Funny story. I cracked my iPhone 3G in a similar fashion and am debating on what to do. Maybe sell the cracked phone on eBay and get a replacement at a pawn shop (or maybe apple). said...

Greg, you could try to replace it yourself. If that fails, there are two ways to get the replacement for the same cost as you can at sign-up:
1. Go monkey on them like I did
2. Take a sledgehammer to it to cover any evidence that you tried to fix it yourself