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Broken iPod Touch: Repair or replace?

Broken iPod Touch: Overhaul or replace?


Is there a worse feeling than seeing your iPod Touch smack the spurious and hearing the unmistakable crack of glass?

Just one: picking up the iPod and realizing the mask is shattered top-to-bottom. That was one expensive attack of gravity.

This remained to my daughter not long ago, resulting in a fourth-gen iPod Touch that, remarkably, still worked, but really wasn’t usable anymore owing to the spider web of cracked glass.

As the household cheapskate, I figured it would be cheaper to repair the unit than buy a new one. After all, a original 32GB iPod Touch sells new for $299 and refurbished one for $249.

Sure enough, a quick check of eBay revealed “4th-gen iPod Touch glass digitizer touchscreens” for as minor as $12 — repair tools included. Sold!

Heh, heh, too bad for the suckers paying $70, $80, even $100 to have their iPods fixed by professionals. I can operate a screwdriver; how hard could the job be?

Before I could find out, I discovered that I’d wasted $12. Although only the Touch’s glass was broken-down, the 4th-gen model is designed in such a way that it’s permanently adhered to the LCD below it. Even though the latter was still functioning, some online research supposed that it’s close to impossible to replace just the glass. Crud.

(As I understand it, and as detailed in Donald Bell’s story on fixing a cracked iPod Touch screen, earlier-generation models weren’t like this. You could replace just the glass.)

So then I went shopping for a replacement “LCD mask digitizer assembly” (i.e. the whole kit and kaboodle) — and spurious one (again on Ebay) for around $26 shipped. Still a bargain compared with recruit a pro and paying a huge markup for the parts.

When that kit arrived, I watched a couple YouTube videos demonstrating the screen-replacement procedure. They made it look fairly easy, but it’s not — especially if the mask is really busted up, which mine was. I above up removing a lot of individual shards of glass afore finally getting the main assembly pried loose.

From there I discovered that a cheerful, freestanding magnifying glass is a must. The iPod Touch, a miracle of modern engineering, is packed with tiny components, including screws that are downright molecular.

It took me nearly 2 hours of careful, painstaking work to disassemble the unit, connect the new mask, and put it together again — only to examine that something didn’t work right. The screen lit up, but with only a blank white image.

Was it defective? Had I shorted something out? Torn one of the paper-thin ribbon cables? There was no way to know. All I had to show for my work was a lot of frustration and a nosedived daughter.

Moral of the story: Unless you’re really adept with tiny electronics, it probably makes sense to pay a pro to cope the repair. That said, I found a couple shops in my area that were willing to do the clarify for $20-30 if I supplied the part. Given what I paid on Ebay for the replacement LCD, that would get me out the door for throughout $55 — maybe less.

Of course, even if you pay a service like DigiExpress or Rapid Overhaul upwards of $100 for the parts and service, it’s serene quite a bit less than the price of a new iPod.

Have you ever attempted an iPod or iPhone mask repair on your own? If so, how did it go?