iPhone Replacement Screen Quality?
December 24, 2013 2:30 PM   Subscribe

I dropped my iPhone 4S a couple weeks ago and broke the screen. Insert humorous anecdote here. Can anyone describe their experience with 3rd-party replacement glass versus "official" replacement screen glass? Bonus points for specific locations in suburban Boston where I could get this fixed on a while-you-wait basis, since I'll be in Boston-ish over the next few days. Thanks.
posted by baseballpajamas to Technology (9 answers total)
I had my iPhone 5 repaired at Boston iPhone Repair in Harvard Square a few weeks ago and the glass looks good as new. (They couldn't fix the dents to the frame from the drop, unfortunately, but they hammered them out as best they could.) The repair was complete in 30 minutes or so while I waited. Looks like a 4S screen replacement would run you $70.
posted by Kosh at 3:09 PM on December 24, 2013

I've dropped my 4S more times than I can count with no issues, but my luck ran out and the last time it shattered. I went to a shop that replaced it for $50 (CA, so no helpful suggestions for you). It looks the same, the touch screen works just as before. The only thing that no longer works is the auto dimmer for the brightness (which is more annoying than you might think). But I have no idea if that is related to the drop or the screen. All in all, I'm happy with it.
posted by cecic at 3:11 PM on December 24, 2013

Somewhat related, I replaced the glass on a Galaxy S4 myself with 3rd party glass. I notice no difference whatsoever with the glass quality. I am much much more careful with it now though. For what it is worth, and I have no idea if it makes sense, a gentleman who works at a shop repairing glass for all sorts of phones told me that he tells his clients to kick their phone if they can when they drop it before it hits the ground. He claims that the screen will rarely hit the ground directly after a kick, but if it just falls directly, it often will land on a corner or on the screen causing damage. Hopefully, I never try this. Also, Apple themselves will repair broken screens on the 4 series and I think the 5, but not yet on the 5S.

If you are adventurous, you could do this yourself for about $10. The parts for my S4 cost about $12 including some tape I needed. I did buy a new home button ribbon which cost $5 or so. Watch youTube videos for directions and degree of difficulty.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:33 PM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't do it myself; you start with the back and head downwards. Too many bits.

We replaced my wife's broken 4 screen with an after market done by a local repair shop that charged $100. It was indistinguishable from the original.

That said, if you're out of contact I'd consider just upgrading. You'll have a new screen but the battery will still be old and you'll be out $100 to have the same device.
posted by phearlez at 6:52 PM on December 24, 2013

If you're anywhere near the Cambridgeside Galleria, there's a kiosk there that repairs all kinds of iPhone problems. It's all the way at the end near the Cheesecake Factory. A couple of coworkers had repairs done there and the quality was very good, the repairs were done in about an hour, and they were reasonably-priced.
posted by clone boulevard at 8:23 PM on December 24, 2013

I had a third party storefront replace my 4S screen a few months ago in NYC. It only took an hour and cost half of what Apple wanted to charge me. I've had no problems with the new screen.
posted by greenland at 8:57 PM on December 24, 2013

My front seems jest fine. BUT I found that the knock-off replacement BACK had a much more delicate covering for the camera lens that scratched up for no obvious reason very quickly. I bought a "mint" used actual Apple back and it seems to be holding up like the original.
posted by cccorlew at 9:47 PM on December 24, 2013

I've replaced about 12 or 15 of these for various people since a few months after the 4 came out. I've done the 4S too(which is very similar to the CDMA/verizon 4). A good replacement screen for the 4S costs like $20 now, and that's for a real quality OEM one. They're boning you on the labor if they're charging you $50-80 they've absolutely boning you on the labor. Once you've done it more than like 2 times it takes about 20 minutes. It's fiddly, but it's also very if-then and it's not like you're having to do anything all that labor intensive, just pull a bunch of screws out in-order and lift stuff out.

I haven't seen any crappy "knock off" screens. Although i make a point of always buying parts from US resellers, that's mostly to avoid BS 4 week shipping times from china post.

Don't try the "just replace the glass, not the LCD+glass combo unit" method if you do it yourself. That's completely moronic as it's glued together at the factory and made to stay that way, and the display underneath gets damaged super easily anyways. It'll never look/work quite right after and you'll likely have to replace the digitizer too driving the cost up to... about the same as replacing the entire thing as a unit. Swapping the whole face is pretty easy IMO.

After you fix it buy a candyshell case. It's the thinnest case i've seen that seems to protect the phone from getting screwed up if you drop it basically 100% of the time. I've used one since 2010, and gotten a bunch of people to buy them/given them out to friends when i found them for cheap. I've never cracked the glass on my 4/4s/5 despite being a drunken buffoon and i attribute it mostly to that.
posted by emptythought at 1:30 PM on December 25, 2013

Someone up thread mentioned the battery being old, but don't let that dissuade you. In fact, ask the repair shop how much the screen replacement is, and then ask them how much to change the battery at the same time. Batteries are not expensive and when they disassemble the device to get to the screen, they'll already have done all of the hard work to get to the battery. Bonus points - odds are you'll get a replacement battery with a fair but more capacity than the original.
posted by azpenguin at 1:43 PM on December 25, 2013

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