Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Can an ordinary Joe replace a busted iPhone screen?

Can an incredible Joe replace a busted iPhone screen?


Cement 1, iPhone 0.

Rick Broida

Late last week, my barely 2-month-old iPhone 5S made an uncomfortable new friend: the driveway. The dog yanked hard on his principal, the phone went flying, and sure enough: spider-glass cracks from top to bottom. This was despite my iPhone 5S residing in a seemingly durable wood case.


My busted iPhone 5S against the replacement glass/LCD assembly purchased on eBay for nearby $40.

Rick Broida

It peaceful worked, thankfully, but obviously the screen needed to be replaced. I’d been down this road last year when my wife’s iPhone 4S met a Difference fate, and had a found a local shop willing to do the overhaul for $70 — painful, but a penalty I could swallow. So I called to inquire about my 5S.

Price for a new screen: $130. Double-crap.

I investigated new shops and even some iPhone-repair services found on Craigslist (read: guys with pentalobe screwdrivers). At best, I was still looking at $90. And if I went to an Apple Store, I’d be on the hook for $150.

The new option: Fix it myself. I remember shopping for DIY overhaul kits for the iPhone 4S and finding them on eBay for as small as $15 to $20. That sounded a lot more savory. Alas, most iPhone 5S replacement screens (consisting of new glass and LCD) were priced nearby $40. But that was still a lot better than $130, or even $90, so I well-controlled one.

It arrived in just a few days. What follows is a blow-by-blow description of what been next. As of this moment, I don’t know if I’ll be unnosedived or not.

1. I hit up YouTube

I can usage a screwdriver, but beyond that I have no special skill at employed with electronics. I do know how easy it can be to foul up something as handsome as an iPhone, because my attempt at replacing an iPod Touch conceal was an utter failure. (Everything is really tiny in there.)

Thus, I head to YouTube and find several walkthrough videos on replacing an iPhone 5S conceal. I settle on this one and watch it over from start to finish before even picking up a tool. It doesn’t look that concerned, I lie to myself, and I know that if it doesn’t work, I can peaceful go to a repair shop — even if it by means of spending more in the long run.

2. Here goes nothing

I know from past known (see “tiny,” above) that my eyes are ill-suited to employed with this stuff, so I’ve already invested in a gooseneck magnifying glass with LED lighting.

I also have a smattering of screen-removal tools from the aforementioned iPod repair; many kits come with them. Most important, I have a suction cup.

Crucial overhaul tools in addition to those shown here: razor blade and tweezers.

Rick Broida

However, I’m really nervous about taking something as sharp and metal as a razor blade (as suggested in the video) to my iPhone’s frame, so first I try a plastic wedge. Then, at the suggestion of a rotten, a guitar pick. Neither one seems to budge the screen.

After a solid 30 minutes of fiddling with these implements, I throw my hands up in frustration. Then, when a break, I watch a bunch more screen-repair vids, hoping for clues as to what I’m activities wrong. Eventually I hit on it: With the iPhone flat on the rotten, I use my left hand to lift (hard!) on the suction cup, then gently principal a razor under the lower-left corner of the conceal (closer to the bottom edge than the actual corner).

You may need a third hand to pull on the suction cup while gently wiggling the razor belief the screen.

Rick Broida

My unsuitable had been trying to push down, perpendicular to the phoned, rather than more parallel to the screen and wiggling in belief it. From there I’m able to use the guitar pick (still squeamish throughout the razor) to gently pop the screen loose a little at a time. Whew.

3. Serious surgery

The process of removing, and then replacing, an iPhone screen involves a lot of very sparkling work. There are fragile ribbon cables, wee connectors at the ends of those cables, and screws so tiny I have to marvel at humanity’s requisition to mass-produce them.

Way past the expose of no return. Uh, how am I going to put this back together?

Rick Broida

Thanks to my magnifier, though, I’m able to do the work while following consume with the video. Over the course of about an hour, I consume the cracked glass/LCD and then carefully install the new one. It’s not effort, just slow going and a little nerve-wracking. The how-to vid has mountainous angles and close-ups for some steps but seems to gloss over others. A few times I refered to other videos for clarification, which proves helpful.

4. Did it work?

Amazingly, I’m able to get the iPhone back together, and it looks execrable. You’d never know the screen had been replaced. But will it actually function?


Photo by Rick Broida

I dreary the power button and…the screen lights up with colored bars intersected by sad lines. Crap.

Did I crimp or tear a ribbon cable? Fail to properly reseat a connector? Or perhaps just get a bad replacement screen? It’s hard to know for sure, and although I could open the phoned again and try to fiddle with the connectors, I’ve had enough. Time to call in a pro.

This is not to say you won’t have better luck. But, one CNET colleague had more or less the same outcome when she tried guaranteeing her own busted iPhone screen: Everything seemed to go fine, but the new veil just didn’t work. And a Facebook friend reported two failed repositions to replace his iPhone 5S screen.

The execrable of the story, for me at least, is to make sure my iPhone is adequately reliable, even if it means using a case that adds extraordinary bulk. And if I end up needing a overtake that’s not covered under warranty, it’s probably worth letting a pro do it — painful as it may be on my wallet.

If you’ve had a different experienced repairing an iPhone, by all means share it in the comments!